Differences Between Protestant and Catholic Funerals

By: Tom Gallagher
Wednesday, April 27, 2022

If you've ever attended funerals for people of different religious faiths, you've probably observed that the funeral rituals vary somewhat from one ceremony to the next. At Thomas M. Gallagher Funeral Home we know that catholic funerals are generally more ceremonial, while Protestant funerals are far less ritualistic and provide more details about the deceased.

The following are some of the other distinctions between Catholic and Protestant burial customs:


In Catholic funerals, the Prayer Vigil is a suitable opportunity to eulogize the departed or offer civil/fraternal tributes. The funeral mass does not include the delivery of eulogies. In Protestant services, eulogies are often included in the ritual.


The Catholic Church has always opposed cremation. However, in today's society, it is permissible for Catholics to be cremated. While the Protestant church prohibited cremation, they progressively embraced it as part of their beliefs after WWI.


Both Protestant and Catholic religions hold visitations or wakes to see the body and pay homage. A Catholic viewing is conducted in the church before/after the Prayer Vigil. The night before the funeral ceremony, a Protestant visitation is typically conducted at the funeral home.

Ministers and Priests

One or more Catholic priests always celebrate a Catholic funeral mass. A bishop may officiate at a Catholic mass in various instances. Although there are many distinct Protestant faiths, most funerals are conducted by a minister or pastor rather than a priest.

Norms for Burial

The primary distinction between Protestant and Catholic funerals is that Catholics bless the mausoleum or ground before burying the remains or urn. Only a few prayers and commitments will be said for Protestant funerals. Different Protestant faiths have their funeral traditions.


Whether you are planning a Protestant or Catholic funeral service for a loved one or family member, we at Thomas M. Gallagher Funeral Home can help. Contact us or give us a call at 318-640-1375 today.

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