Rosary at the Visitation

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: When my dad died back in 2016, we had an evening Visitation with the Vigil Service, then the Mass of Christian Burial the next day, along with the Committal at the Cemetery.  A few weeks after the funeral, someone at my mom’s parish asked her why we didn’t pray the Rosary for my dad at the Visitation.  My mom told her we followed the Catholic Funeral Rites and that the Vigil Service is what the Church encourages.  She told my mom, “Don’t worry, I’ll get some people together and we’ll pray a Rosary for him.” 

It does seem that a lot of Catholics think the Rosary is the proper prayer to accompany the Visitation, whether the Visitation occurs the evening before or the hour before the Mass of Christian Burial.  And I sure commend people who want to pray the Rosary, especially if the deceased had a strong devotion to praying it.  But it seems to have become the default choice for families when there is a funeral to plan.  I realize that the Vigil service might not be preferable when the Visitation occurs an hour or two before the Mass, but I’m amazed at how many Catholics assume 1) there needs to be a rosary and 2) it needs to be led by a priest.  

I realize as someone in parish ministry that we need to keep educating people and moving people toward the Catholic Funeral Rites.  I wonder about offering a simpler version of the Vigil Service as an option, while still offering the Rosary as an option as well, and how much freedom we might have in a parish to adapt the Vigil Service?


A: Even though it was eight years ago, my condolences to you on the loss of your father. God bless you for taking such good care of him at the end of his days.

It would surprise many Catholics to know that the word “rosary” occurs nowhere in the Order of Christian Funerals. As you say, many presume that if you don’t lead one, you didn’t do a funeral the right way.

You do have some freedom with that Vigil service. Many people like to blend parts of it with the rosary. I would advise at least include some proclamation of a scripture reading.

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