The Rich Traditions of a Catholic Funeral

Did you know Chicago ranks as the seventh most diverse city in the United States? Palatine and Glenview are also incredibly diverse. Here at Smith-Corcoran Funeral Homes, we believe our area’s rich culture of diversity is its greatest strength! Think of our beautiful tapestry of ethnic neighborhoods, including Little Italy, Greektown, Chinatown, the Irish in Mount Greenwood, and the Polish Triangle. And then there are the religious communities that have shaped Chicago’s storied history.

One of the largest faith communities in the Chicago-area melting pot is Roman Catholic, with nearly 350 parishes serving 2.2 million Catholics in Cook and Lake Counties. The Catholic Church holds many unique and meaningful traditions for each stage of life, and funeral customs are no exception. Our professional team is involved in many of the local parishes here in Chicago, Glenview, and Palatine and knows how important it is to create services honoring religious traditions.

In the Catholic Church, the funeral rite is made up of the wake, Funeral Mass, and burial. Each holds its own significance in helping a family pay tribute to their loved one who has died. The wake, or vigil, happens first and is similar to a visitation in that it takes place the day or evening before the other ceremonies. Traditionally, it will take place at the funeral home, with a priest or deacon leading the wake, and includes brief readings. Many families also choose to include music, and our Smith-Corcoran staff can help select beloved hymns or even hire live musicians. Our three convenient locations have amenities perfectly suited to hosting this traditional celebration.

Following the wake, Catholics hold a Funeral Mass, which reflects the sacrament of baptism. A priest serves as celebrant, reading Scriptures that mirror the passages used at baptismal ceremonies. Unless the mass is on a specified holy day, the priest also wears the same white vestments at both celebrations. Smith-Corcoran Funeral Homes can coordinate with an officiant of your choosing and work with one of the many Catholic churches in the area to host a full Funeral Mass.

The last aspect of a Catholic funeral is the burial, where friends and family gather to say goodbye. According to Catholic teachings, this farewell is temporary, as families will see each other again in heaven. To help carry out this tradition, Smith-Corcoran offers transportation options to accommodate travel to the burial location, including our unique and beautiful Mercedes hearse. We also offer a variety of personal touches to add meaning to the event. To make sure your farewell is exactly what you had in mind, our preplanning process gives you and your family the opportunity to make all of these decisions ahead of time.

It’s in these values and traditions that so many of us find comfort and a sense of peace. If you have any questions about how our caring team can help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.