Sunday, December 6, 2015


One of my parishioners who came into the full Communion of the Catholic Church from the Episcopal Church many years ago asked that I participate in his Episcopalian mother's funeral at one of our local Episcopal Churches. I was happy to do so as I had already participated in his father's funeral last year at the same church.

The particular church is in a transitional time with their minister, thus a supply minister officiated. She called me and asked if I would read the Gospel. (The service was not a communion service.) I said I'd be more than happy to do so.

Then she asked me if I would do the Committal Rite at the graveside. I was under the impression that she would not be there. So I said certainly I'd be more than happy to do so.

Since I had available the Rite of Committal for the Anglican Ordinariate Use, I decided that I would use it.

The Episcopal supply minister decided to attend the Rite of Committal. I felt awkward doing it myself with her there since I'm a Catholic priest and this was an Episcopal funeral rite. I asked if she would prefer to offer it but insisted that I do it. I had already cleared it with my parishioner, the son, the night before because I wasn't sure how his mom would have felt with a Catholic priest doing it and not an Episcopal minister. He was happy for me to do it and even provided me his copy of the Anglican Ordinariate's previous service book for it.

The Catholic service of the Anglican Ordinariate uses the old English  which I found a bit difficult to use publicly as I am not use to it. But overall it was nice but very Anglican and as I am not familiar with the Anglican Patrimony for funerals, I felt a bit like a fish out of water using the Catholic version of the Episcopal Funeral Rite at an Episcopal funeral with primarily Episcopalians present including their supply minister!

I am so ecumenical! Indeed I did feel honored to be asked by my parishioner to participate in the way I did.

I might also add and ask, kosher or not, that as her church is without a minister currently and I was called by my parishioner to visit his dying Episcopalian mom in the emergency room, I offered her the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick with the apostolic absolution. She was in a coma and her son asked that I do it. I was more than happy to do so under the circumstances. I used the Ordinary Form Anointing as I don't have the Anglican Ordinariate's form of it.

1 comment:

John Nolan said...

Masses for the dead were prohibited after the Reformation (Protestants denied the existence of purgatory) and so there is no Anglican patrimony in this respect (Anglicans who did pray for the dead in the Catholic manner had to use Roman rites). The BCP funeral service is sonorous and memorable but reflects a different theology.

The Novus Ordo funeral rites are also deficient. I don't know why Bugnini & Co. destroyed the existing and time-honoured liturgy for the dead or why Paul VI acquiesced in it. I only know that I had to see off both my parents in this lamentable form, although I tried to make it as Catholic as possible. But there is no way I am having it for myself. As the saying goes: 'A Novus Ordo funeral - over my dead body!'