Planning a funeral

Death in some ways is nearly always unexpected. Even when a loved one has been sick for some time the actual moment of death takes us by surprise. The family, then, generally has many decisions to make in a short space of time. The staff at Saint Lawrence’s want to help as much as possible so that the family can celebrate the life of their loved one in a way that best honors that life and respects the faith of the community.

This information sheet has been designed to help make you aware of the possibilities when planning a vigil and funeral Mass for yourself or a loved one.

It is not morbid to plan ahead for your own funeral or that of a parent or loved one. It can lessen the stress at the time of death to know that readings and music have been chosen. We have materials to help you and we are happy to assist. If your loved one was not Catholic we can still offer a Mass of Christian Burial or we can prepare a service that meets your needs.

Informing the parish office

Please call the office at (408) 296-3000 as soon as possible after a death has occurred. It is even helpful if you contact us when someone may be close to death, we can alert those who help with the arrangements so that we are better able to provide your family with everything you need.

The funeral home

If you need help in selecting a funeral home please ask. Your funeral home will call us to confirm or ask for times of services. At the time the vigil service is held we typically begin with a Rosary or Scripture Service to prevent interrupting the visitation.

Time and place of services

In recent years it has become more common to have both the vigil and Mass in church—where we worship. The vigil may be held in the evening with a Mass following and burial the next day, or both Mass and burial the next morning, or we can also do a visitation in the morning before the Mass and burial. In winter time wakes tend to be earlier to avoid driving after dark.

Meeting with the priest to plan services

We prefer to meet with you in the Parish office as soon as possible after the death to gather information about the deceased for our records and to help in the selection of readings and music for the services.

The funeral Mass

Funeral Masses should be blessed with music. We have a list of appropriate music from which to choose; as well as a booklet of readings, and suggestions for intercessions so that the Mass can be your personal celebration.


Many people opt for cremation. Cremation used to take place after the funeral Mass but we can celebrate a Memorial Mass with the urn containing the cremains in the church. The ritual is very much the same at a funeral mass with the casket.