Funerals short course to explore Catholic beliefs about death

8 June 2018
Very Rev Peter G. Williams (centre). Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Dealing with death is never easy and when we find ourselves suddenly having to arrange a funeral for a loved one at short notice and with little or no experience to draw on, it can seem overwhelming.

On four Wednesdays in July, ACU Centre for Liturgy is presenting a short course exploring Christian beliefs about death and how Catholics celebrate the death of a loved one according to the Order of Christian Funerals. From the Diocese of Parramatta, the Very Rev Peter G. Williams will be presenting parts of the course. A special session of the course will focus on how priests and funeral directors can work together to care for the grieving, and the course will culminate in a practicum where participants will actually prepare a Catholic funeral.

Professor Clare Johnson, Director of the ACU Centre for Liturgy explains that “Catholic funerals serve a number of different purposes. They offer a way for mourners to remember, honour and give thanks for the life of a loved one through beautiful and consoling rituals, and they also offer a way for the Church to proclaim its profound hope and belief in Jesus’ promise of eternal life after death.”

Very Rev Peter G. Williams. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

While acknowledging that talking and thinking about death is not easy for many people, Professor Johnson believes that more people need to consider what will happen when they or a loved one dies, before it happens. “If people can start to think now about what decisions they will need to make in order to arrange a Catholic funeral, they will be far better prepared to celebrate meaningfully and beautifully when the time comes,” she says.

When asked about what the Centre for Liturgy hopes people will get out of this short course, Professor Johnson explains that “We hope that this short course will offer support to those who are facing the death of a loved one as well as an opportunity for deeper learning about how Catholics celebrate the death of a member of the Church, and what Catholics believe about what happens after death.”

Presenting “From death to new life: preparing and celebrating Catholic funerals” will be Dr Jason McFarland, Very Rev Peter G. Williams (Diocese of Parramatta), Fr Robert Borg, and Mr Brett Kennedy from W.N. Bull Funerals who are co-sponsoring the short course along with Liturgy Brisbane, the Liturgy Office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, and Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria.

The short course will run from 6.30-8pm on Wednesdays July 4, 11, 18 and 25 at ACU’s Strathfield Campus.

For further information and registration go or call 02 9701 4751.

With thanks to ACU.

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