Last Rites - St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church

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Planning a Funeral: A Parish Guide


Planning a funeral is always a difficult task. This outline is meant to address the key components of a funeral and guide parishioners through the process of burying a loved on. As you anticipate the passing of a family member your primary responsibility is notify your immediate and extended family, and your parish priest.

The sacrament of the sick or “Ieleopomazannia” (an anointing with holy oil) is recommended for any baptized person who is seriously ill. This ritual invites God to bless the individual and return them to good health, should this be God’s will. You should not hesitate to call a priest at any hour. The hospital chaplain will make arrangements for another priest (Ukrainian or Roman Catholic) should you not be able to contact your own pastor. The sacrament may still be administered for a short time after someone has passed away.

As you experience the grief associated with death you may be overwhelmed by a variety of emotions, thoughts and questions. In these difficult moments of life Christians are encouraged to embrace the principals of faith, which most of us have acquired since childhood, namely:
that God who called us to life, will also call us home to live eternally;our human body is the vessel given to us for life in this world;our real identity is tied up with our soul—that invisible yet essential part of us, which continues to exist long after we have shed our bodies;whoever believes in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will not die but live with God forever (John 3:16);eternal life with God, although difficult to define with human language, will be complete and utter perfection, joy, love and holiness;the love we shared with others in life, may continue to extend into the realm of eternity in the form of prayer.

Funeral Homes
In the past our parishioners have most often relied on one of the following three funeral homes, however you may decide to make such arrangements with any funeral establishment:

  1.   Kopriva-Taylor (Lakeshore Rd. in Oakville) – (905) 844-2600
  2.   Oakview (Lakeshore Rd. in Oakville) – (905) 842-2252
  3.   Turner & Porter (Neweduk Chapel - Dundas St. in West Mississauga) – (905) 828-8000

The funeral home will arrange all details pertaining to the funeral, including cemetery arrangements, newspaper announcements, icon cards, etc.

Funeral Services
The Ukrainian-rite funeral typically consists of four elements:

  • A Prayer Service (“panachyda”) is conducted on the eve of the funeral, usually at the funeral home.  This event provides a suitable opportunity for relatives and friends to visit the family and express their condolences.  

  • Funeral (“pochoron”) is conducted at church (funeral services for non-parishioners may be held at the funeral home.)  

  • Burial (or interment) takes place at the cemetery within the context of a “panachyda” service.  

  • Memorial Luncheon (“tryzna”) is a solemn and appropriate conclusion to a funeral. It provides one final opportunity for the community to gather and share grief, encouragement and nourishment.

There are basically 2 options depending on time and family preferences:

  • Funeral Service (“Parastas”) with the Divine Liturgy (1.5 hrs)

  • Funeral Service (“Parastas”) (30 m. to 1 hr.)

 1.  The services may be held in Ukrainian or English, or a combination of both languages.
 2.  Father will arrange cantors to lead the singing.
 3.  Let father know should you wish to invite another priest to participate in the services.

Memorial Luncheon
Following the burial the family usually invites all those who have participated in the funeral services to stay for a memorial luncheon. The family may ask a friend or family member to act as emcee. The program may include an opening prayer, word of welcome, lunch, introduction of the immediate family and out of town guests, a slideshow, condolences from community organizations and individuals, a closing prayer.

Personal Touches
The following is a list of ideas to make the funeral experience a meaningful and memorable celebration of one’s life:

  • prepare a collage of photographs to display at the funeral home

  • things in the coffin that could be symbolic of different parts of their life (e.g. letters or drawings from their children or grandchildren, medals or association pins, samples of hobbies or interests, religious symbols)

  • someone from the family read the epistle for the church service

  • the priest with some details (written notes) of his/her life to incorporate into the homily

  • a family member prepare a brief tribute at the memorial luncheon

Charitable Causes
Your family and friends will wish to express their love in a variety of ways: some will send flowers, others will travel from afar, still others will arrange for prayers to be said in their own parishes. Some will also wish to make a donation to a charity of the family’s choice. In this case consider causes, which are important for your family. We also invite you to consider our parish Building Fund, which has been established for the building of our new church in the near future.

Special Notes
People often feel uneasy when confronted with death. Some may feel inept to say anything. Please be understanding of these awkward moments and know that a handshake (or embrace) and a “Thank you for coming” may be the most appropriate response.require special attention when dealing with death. Some parents chose to protect their children from funerals and funeral homes Drawing upon our faith (going to heaven, being with God, joining other relatives) is a good way to help children understand that death is a passing from life in the world to life with God.

Personal Care
Dealing with death has always been one of life’s most difficult and painful realities. The process of coping with grief is complex and long-term. It is very important that individuals, both children and adults, who have been directly affected by the loss of a loved family member, seek out opportunities and people to help them journey through grief.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
(Psalm 23:4)

May the Good Lord, who has called us to life and who will one day call us home, bring you peace and consolation in your time of sadness. If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to call (at any time).

Fr. Michael Loza

© 2023 St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church
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