Policies and Key Documents

Policies and Key Documents


The Order of Christian Funerals states that “A member or a friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased.”  OCF#170
The Order recommends that these words be spoken after the Communion Prayer and before the Final Commendation.  In the Diocese of Sandhurst the preference is for the words to be spoken at the beginning of the rite, after the greeting by the Presider and before the placing of the Baptismal symbols.

Some points to be considered regarding the words of remembrance:

• Clear and consistent practice must be established in parishes.  A sheet with a suggested approach would be helpful for families needing to prepare for a funeral.
• The words of remembrance are a valid part of the funeral rites and cannot be omitted unless the family chooses to leave them out.
• There should only be one person speak at the funeral rather than a series of people.
• The words should recall the good life of the deceased, and suggest how the person could be best remembered with inspiration.  They should remember that, as Christians, we anticipate our meeting in the next life and our future resurrection together.
• The words should deal compassionately of the deceased’s life
• The words must be appropriate to the context of a worship space and its gathered community.  Inappropriate language and content should be avoided.
• The words should be a reasonable length. 5 – 7 Minutes in total
• The reflection should be written out, practiced in front of others and if possible given to the Presider ahead of time.
• The funeral is not the only place where words of remembrance may be spoken.  It is more suitable that words are spoken at the Vigil, Committal Service and/or the Wake, where anecdotes, personal stories, poems, songs or Power Point presentations may be responded to more readily.
• The Homily is never to be a eulogy.  The homilist should dwell on God’s compassionate love and on the Paschal mystery of the Lord, as proclaimed in the Scripture readings.  OCF#27
• The words of remembrance cannot replace the homily, nor should they immediately follow it.


Reference Material
General Instruction to the Roman Missal (2002)
Chapter 5 – The Arrangement and Furnishings for Churches for the Celebration of the Eucharist (288-318)
Built of Living Stones (2000)
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963)
Chapter 7 – Sacred Art and Sacred Furnishings (122-130)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994)
Part II: Chapter II: Article IV – Where is the Liturgy Celebrated (1179-1186, 1197-1199, 1379)
Code of Canon Law (1983)
Book IV – The Sanctifying Office of the Church

The Altar
• It is desirable to have a fixed altar in every church…but in other places set aside for liturgical celebrations, the altar may be movable.
• The major altar must be freestanding and central.
• The altar is to be of natural stone, though the Conference of Bishops may judge that another material may be used that is worthy, solid and artistically made.
• Moderation should be observed when decorating an altar
• There is to be a cross, with the corpus, either on the altar or near it, which is clearly visible to the people gathered together.
• The credence table should be sufficiently large for ablutions to be easily and discreetly performed in the sanctuary area

The Ambo
• The dignity of the Word of God requires the church have a suitable place for the proclamation of the word that is a natural focal point for the faithful.
• It is appropriate that the ambo be stationary and those using it be visible.

The Presiders Chair and other seats
• The Presiders chair should stand out as a symbol of his office.  Thus it is best suited facing the people within the sanctuary area.  Anything resembling a throne is to be avoided.
• A number of suitable chairs for concelebrants should be available.

The Tabernacle
• The tabernacle should be in a part of the church which is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer.
• The tabernacle should be immovable, not transparent, and lockable.  There should be only one tabernacle in each church.
• It is in keeping that the tabernacle  in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved not be on the altar on which the Mass is celebrated.  The location is made according to the diocesan bishop, either in the sanctuary apart from the altar of celebration (not excluding an old altar no longer used for celebration).  Or in a chapel suited to the faithful’s private adoration and prayer, which is connected and conspicuous.
• A special lamp which burns continuously must be near the tabernacle, to indicate the presence of Christ.
• The placement of the tabernacle must be carefully considered.  All possible solutions should be examined from building a new chapel, the redeveloping an existing space to maintaining the status quo.
• In case of dispute the diocesan bishop will have final judgement.

The plan of the church must mark off the sanctuary area from the body of the church.  The baptismal font may be near the sanctuary, or some other place where the participation of the congregation during Baptisms is possible.  The arrangement of the space should remind the faithful where they are and encourage them to prayer.

The Confessional provides an opportunity for an anonymous encounter with a fixed grille or face-to-face encounters as the penitent chooses.  Privacy from the outside must be ensured.

The places for the faithful should be arranged with care so they may be able to be full, conscious and active participants.  The seating should be arranged so the faithful may take the postures required during the celebration, and provide unimpeded access to receive Holy Communion.  All ministries must be able to be seen and heard.
There should always be an accessible area at the front of the Sanctuary for the placement of the casket during funerals and the possibilities of gathering of members of the faithful for blessings.
Sacred Images are appropriate and may be displayed for veneration so they may guide people to the mysteries of the faith celebrated there.  The images should not distract the worshiping community and should not be increased indiscriminately.  There should be only one image of any given saint, and the images should be beautiful and uniting.

The church should be designed so that a choir and musicians may be part of the gathered community.  The location should assist the choir to exercise their ministry.
The organ and other lawful instruments should be so placed, that they may be heard by all, and sustain the singing.

The Baptismal font should use clean water, be attractive and if possible accommodate immersion and well as infusion.

A Place of honour should be made for the Easter Candle, the Oils of Baptism and the Sick, and any processional cross used.

Denise Braddon 2006
(derived from DLC document 2002)

Time has seen the increase in the use of electronic media within the worship spaces of the Diocese of Sandhurst. This has called for the formulation of guidelines within the Diocese, so that there is may be a common understanding of the benefits and the uses of electronic devices, in particular Data Projectors.

Placement of Projections
The most appropriate place for the screens, whether they be LCD, plasma or white screens, is to the right or left side of the Sanctuary.  This will allow most visibility by the congregation.   It should be noted though that this could lead to a limited visibility by those on the sanctuary.

The focus for Eucharistic worship is the table of the Eucharist, which we as a community gather around.  It is therefore inappropriate to ever project images directly above the table in the centre of the sanctuary.

What to project
The use of projectors should be limited within worship.  The projection of hymn words and some of the assembly’s prayers and responses in Eucharistic services is the primary use for projection.  There may be pastoral reasons for a more expanded use of projection  on some occasions, such as Masses when a larger part of the gathered community may be unfamiliar with the responses of our liturgy. Because the elements of bread and wine will be used in reality on the table it is best not to repeat those images on screens near the sanctuary.

Use during Sacramental Rites and gatherings
Parishes need to make clear that the projection of slides during Masses is not appropriate.  Slide shows during the rites for funerals, weddings, sacramental or school Masses is not to be promoted.  Slides show may be shown before or at the conclusion of the Eucharist but their use during the ritual takes the emphasis away from the sacred nature of the Eucharistic celebration.  After consultation with the local parish priest there may be a limited number of slides used after communion to unite the community gathered, but permission for this should not to be presumed.

A few slides before the entrance procession or after communion with photos of the deceased at a funeral liturgy would be appropriate, or the lives of the couple for marriage.  If the liturgy is celebrating the life of a particular saint there could be some images from their lives.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal offers the possibility of silence after communion which is something that could be promoted rather than filling up every gap with something to occupy the senses. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal #88 (2006), also mentions the possibility of a hymn of praise here. If there is to be music which accompanies these images it should be ensured that it is appropriate to a worship setting.  It is important that any presentation does not over extend the length of the Mass, or make the slide show the primary focus of the gathering.

Slide shows can become a passive activity and it may be difficult to bring the focus back to the rite itself afterwards.

With non-Eucharistic celebrations there is much more flexibility for the use of slide shows.

As with any reproduction of images and words, care must be taken that the copyright of these are not broken.  This is especially relevant when the words of songs are reproduced.  The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) have brochures on their website that may be downloaded.  These cover “Music Copyright for Churches” and “Music Copyright for Schools”.  If you do not know what can be used these documents will help you.  They may be found at www.apra.com.au and may be copied without obtaining permission.  But most notable any commercial song may be used in a liturgical setting, providing you own the original CD or tape.  But you may not print or project the words of the song.

Advantages of Data projections
Data projectors and other electronic media present an excellent opportunity for presenting information and ritual so that more people gathered can be included.  The “full, conscious and active participation of the assembly” called for by the Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #14 may be assisted by the use of data projectors.  Projected images assist the assembly with music and words, especially if particular rites use uncommon responses.

Changes may be made to the liturgical action of the day easily with computers.  Their immediacy makes the computers flexibility very valuable.

Screens up on the wall rather than books means people look up to sing and respond allowing their voices to more readily fill the worshipping space.

It must be remembered, however, that technology should serve the assembly and not control it.

Diocesan Liturgical Commission
Diocese of Sandhurst
For all the clergy, teachers and catechists, parents and children and all parishioners in the parishes and schools of the Diocese of Sandhurst.

Policy and Guidelines for the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and first Eucharist, and their preparation, celebrations and catechesis.

A Guide to Marriage and Marriage Education in the Diocese of Sandhurst.

  1. The Sandhurst Diocese believes in the dignity of all young people, regardless of cultural background or employment or relationship status, and seeks to find new and better ways to promote this.
  2. Young people come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, yet all of them seek to develop meaning and purpose in their lives.
  3. Young people belong - in an important, significant, and irreplaceable way - in the life of our Church community and wider society. As such, their contributions should always be respected and encouraged.
  4. The Sandhurst Diocese is committed to helping young people find a sense of meaning and purpose in life, to achieve their full potential in our community, and to know the true and unconditional love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
  5. Young people are called by the Church community to use their talents in working towards a better world, and to live this out in their daily relationships with others.
  6. Every member of the Sandhurst Diocese is called to assist in the fulfilment of this vision.

March 2001


To facilitate the faithful in full, conscious and active participation in the liturgical celebrations in the Diocese of Sandhurst

The liturgy presupposes in the life of individuals and the community, a commitment to the "Mystery of Salvation." This implies a commitment in faith to Jesus the Christ, risen and present in the individual, the Church and all creation. Therefore when we gather he is present in the assembled community, the Word proclaimed, the Eucharist and the minister.

The structure of the Commission aims to foster broader communication and to facilitate more local participation. It follows the recommendations contained in the "Directory for Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism (part 42 45)" March 1993.

The Order of Christian Funerals offers rich and varied rites and texts as well as valuable general principles and instruction. These notes presume that celebrants, funeral directors and parish bereavement groups are familiar with it and have assess to it. These accompanying notes serve to complement it and give further pastoral guidance on preparations and local customs.

The people and ministries

Every person, including nursing and medical staff, welfare personnel and other carers, funeral directors and pastoral and liturgical ministers, has their particular and important role when someone dies. The family of the deceased, the priest and the parish bereavement team or liturgy group are normally involved in preparing the funeral liturgy. Specific roles are expanded upon below.

The places for various celebrations

The home or hospital, the church, the cemetery or crematorium and the reception hall or home are places which have their own significant and appropriate rituals for the dying, the deceased, the bereaved and the community.

Three major rites in the Catholic Order of Christian Funerals have their own purpose, genre, structure and a special sense of progression:

  • The Vigil in the church, chapel or home is often the first time for family and friends to gather for prayer and keeping watch. Some families may be unaware that the Order of Christian Funerals provides many options from a rich Catholic tradition of readings and prayers. The rosary, if especially desired, may be integrated into the vigil liturgy. Other ritual and words may be better suited here than at the funeral Mass, especially sharing stories and symbols of the person’s life.
  • The Funeral Mass in the church is the central funeral liturgy focusing upon the death and resurrection of Christ and the faith and hope of Christian people. For some families unfamiliar with the Mass, a Liturgy of the Word with final commendation may be chosen. Other Masses should not be needlessly added to distract from this central liturgy. Because of its public and growing popular nature, the celebrant and planners must be aware of ecumenical and social issues and be sensitive to the needs and anxieties of the families and a very varied congregation.
  • The Committal Rite in the cemetery or crematorium is the final farewell and separation of the body of the deceased from the community and so should not be neglected in importance or preparation.

When the rites at these times and places properly explained and performed, the family are helped in their grieving process. There are both human and divine elements in the progression of the rites from the initial notice of death to the final letting go. Care and wisdom is needed in choosing the appropriate rites, texts, gestures and actions at these places so the life and death of the Christian is commemorated and farewelled with pastoral sensitivity and in accordance to current Church practices.

Preparing the Liturgy

The places, dates and times for the funeral liturgy (and vigil, if desired) and burial service (rite of committal) should first be negotiated with the priest and family. A time should be arranged early for the family to gather with the priest and/or parish bereavement ministers to prepare the liturgy.

Parishes should have easy to follow resources to assist the family to select readings, prayers, prayers of the faithful, music and hymns.

Booklet or leaflets may be helpful but are not always needed. Hymnbooks or overhead projector screens may serve the purpose well. Preferably the congregation should listen to the scriptures proclaimed rather than follow texts from booklets.

Preparing the booklet may be a way for people to contribute to the preparation, or it may be an unnecessary burden upon them or the parish. Ensure that copyrights are observed and texts are correctly arranged and placed in booklet to avoid page turning during a specific rite or texts.

Liturgical ministries (readers, leading prayers of the faithful, servers, eucharistic ministers) are integral to the liturgy and properly express the nature of liturgical celebration. Family and or parishioners should be selected with care, and be prepared for their tasks beforehand.

Liturgy of the Word - the readings

The readings express both the Christian meaning of life, death and resurrection and are important to express our faith and receive consolation and encouragement. The Gospel should be the first chosen, then readings from the Old Testament and Psalm and the New Testament (if required). Paraphrased readings are not suitable and non-scriptural readings do not have a place in the Liturgy of the Word. The readings should be proclaimed from the Lectionary or other worthy liturgical books.

Preferably the Psalm or at least the response should be sung. The Gospel Acclamation, if not sung, may be omitted. Note that the Alleluia Verse is not said or sung during Lent but may be replaced by another form of the Gospel Acclamation.

Prayers of the Faithful

Often the family would like to spend time preparing these prayers. Resources, which lay out samples in sections: for the church, for the deceased, for the family, for the community, and for particular needs, are most helpful.

Placing of Symbols

Christian symbols (paschal candle [preferably already lit], white pall, cross, sprinkling of holy water, bible, rosary beads and missal) may be placed on or near the coffin before or during the Funeral Mass. They have their own special significance and should be placed simply, with dignity and without much explanation. Short verses and responses or music may accompany the action. Other symbols or personal articles should be restricted to the vigil or the home and, if left in the Church, placed on a table distinct from the altar and coffin.

Music and Hymns

The responses in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist have first priority to be sung, though pastoral considerations may modify this general principle.

It is a good to choose a gathering song, which is accessible for the entire congregation to sing. Instrumental music is preferable at the Presentation of the Gifts, though a hymn reflecting the action of presenting the gifts of bread and wine may be sung.

A communion hymn should be familiar and easy for the congregation to sing without undue reference to words, e.g. a song with a repetitive chorus.

When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances allow, a reflective hymn to assist silent prayer or a hymn of thanksgiving may be sung. The "Song of Farewell" may be sung during the sprinkling with holy water and incensing of the coffin. Otherwise this is done in silence.

The final hymn may be replaced with suitable instrumental music. If a hymn is chosen, it should speak of our faith in the resurrection and eternal life.

Choosing hymns or songs that were the deceased person’s favourites are often not appropriate for the occasion of mourning, or liturgical celebration and congregational participation. They may be more fitting to play and listen to at smaller, intimate gatherings to commemorate the person.

The Words of Remembrance

Words of Remembrance, recalling the life, deeds and special stories of the deceased are best given by only one family member or friend as part of the Introductory Rites, that is after the greeting by the presider, and before the placing of Christian symbols. These words should avoid a purely biographical account or series of anecdotes, which are more familiar in so-called eulogies and more appropriate after the vigil or at the reception. The length of the words of remembrance should be in keeping with the length of the homily, that is five to seven minutes, so that the liturgy is balanced and progresses evenly. These words should be written out, and if possible, shared with the celebrant beforehand.

See update guidelines


The homily serves to illumine the scripture texts and focus on the death and resurrection of Christ, God’s compassion and love and the faith and hope of Christians. The homilist, likewise, should avoid words that are simply biographical or anecdotal in nature.

Rite of Commendation

The rite commendation and farewell immediately follows the post-communion prayer. Silence or a hymn may be sung during the sprinkling and the incensation of the coffin; the celebrant should avoid explanation. The Lord’s Prayer is not said here. The final blessing and dismissal are omitted.

Pastoral Care

After the burial or committal rite, the gathering for refreshments or a meal is both natural and an opportunity for people to meet informally. It is also a sign to the bereaved family that people and ministers continue to care for them.

Funerals present an enormous opportunity for evangelisation and Christian service and witness. People can experience the human face of the Church through its care, concern and effective liturgies. For some it may be their only experience in many years of the Catholic Church and for them an opportunity to explore questions about their faith.


Written and recommended by the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, 27 April 2003

Approved and promulgated by the Bishop of Sandhurst, 4 July 2003

This article accompanies Notes on Funerals.


  • CWB: Catholic Worship Book
  • GA: Gather Australia
  • TIS: Together in Song
  • AOV: As One Voice


  • Jubilee Mass of Pope Paul VI---Percy Jones CWB 534
  • Mass Shalom---Colin Smith CWB 537
  • Mass of Creation---in GA
  • Responsorial Mass---John Hogan (manuscript)
    A Mass setting the parish knows well.


  • Crimond (CWB 833) or any version of Psalm 23, such as CWB 33 set by Sr. Kathleen Boschetti, or by Joseph Gelineau GA 29.
  • Ps. 114/115, I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living CWB 152a
  • Ps. 102, The Lord is kind and merciful CWB 152b
  • Ps. 30, I will praise you, Lord GA 29
  • Ps. 23, Shepherd Me, O God GA 24
  • Ps. 116, In the land of the living GA 68 Refrain III
  • Ps. 91, On Eagles Wings GA 452
  • See also Psalm index in Catholic Worship Book, Gather Australia & Rising Moon for many more suggestions.


  • Celtic Alleluia GA 141
  • Plainsong Alleluia CWB 545, GA 142
  • Easter Alleluia CWB 559
  • Glory and Praise to You (Deiss) CWB 569 GA 148
  • Praise and Honour to You CWB 564 GA 146


  • Welcome Home---Frank Anderson


  • Come as you are GA 212
  • Here I am Lord GA 496
  • Come to the Water AOV 74
  • Lord of the Dance TIS 242
  • Song of the Body of Christ GA 200
  • Gather us in CWB 684 GA 526
  • Though the Mountains may fall GA 453
  • Strong and Constant CWB 812
  • Micah's Theme CWB 548
  • Day is Done, but love unfailing CWB 666
  • I Thank my God---Frank Anderson
  • Yahweh I know you are near GA 451


  • Eagles Wings---Frank Anderson
  • Isaiah 49 GA 472
  • Our Supper Invitation GA 202
  • Do Not Be Afraid (Willcock) CWB 593
  • Make me a channel of your peace CWB 793
  • Make me a means of your peace GA 516
  • My Peace be upon you forever GA 518
  • People of Peace---Carey Landry
  • Keep in Mind CWB 730
  • Come to me all who labour CWB 660 GA 471
  • Eat this Bread---Taize GA 205
  • Bless the Lord, my Soul---Taize GA 84
  • Adoramus Te Domine---Taize
  • You satisfy the hungry heart CWB 751 GA 191
  • My soul is longing for your peace CWB 751 GA 519
  • The Beatitudes CWB 817 GA 489
  • The Lord is my Light CWB 594
  • I am the Bread of Life CWB 718
  • Jesus, Remember Me---Taize GA 308


  • On Eagles Wings GA 452
  • Farewell my soul (Finlandia) GA 237
  • Restless is the Heart GA 239
  • When human voices cannot sing GA 236
  • I know my Redeemer lives CWB 162c or d
  • Lord, You raised Lazarus CWB 162e
  • May the Angels CWB 164a


  • Any of those in the Reflection section plus:
  • Be not Afraid GA 449
  • Lead Kindly Light---Frank Anderson
  • Be Thou My Vision (Slane) TIS 547
  • Lord of all hopefulness CWB 738
  • Lord of Creation CWB 739
  • Lord, be my vision CWB 733
  • In Faith and Hope and Love CWB 722
  • In Paradise---Frank Anderson

The Professional Standards Committee of the Diocese of Sandhurst is part of the structure under the protocols established by Towards Healing process (n. 39) which requires that each Bishop have a consultative group to assist him in the formulation and review of Diocesan policies and practices relating to professional standards, specifically implementation of the process outlined in Towards Healing for responding to allegations of abuse of children, young persons and vulnerable adults.

The Professional Standards Committee of the Diocese of Sandhurst is part of the structure under the protocols established by Towards Healing process (n. 39) which requires that each Bishop have a consultative group to assist him in the formulation and review of Diocesan policies and practices relating to professional standards, specifically implementation of the process outlined in Towards Healing for responding to allegations of abuse of children, young persons and vulnerable adults.

sandhursr diocese coat of arms 125pxPlease find a list of Child Safety policies held by the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

sandhursr diocese coat of arms 125pxPlease find a list of Child Safety policies held by the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

sandhursr diocese coat of arms 125pxPlease find a list of policies held by the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst

sandhurst diocese coat of arms 125pxBishop of Sandhurst Leslie Tomlinson reads the Plenary Council Prayer at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday in preparation for the Plenary Council in 2020.