Funerals at Saint Steven's Cathedral
Death is something that awaits all of us and our loved ones. Yet we often wish to avoid thinking about it. As Orthodox Christians, we know that "Christ is risen from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20) and understand earthly death both as an encounter with the Risen Christ and the door to what the Lord Jesus calls “eternal life” (John 3:16). In this sense, for believers, death is not the end but a new beginning. Christians, as St. Paul writes, “do not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
A Christian funeral places a person's entire life and even death in the context of our faith in the Crucified and Risen Christ. It also enables family and friends to gather together to begin the process of accepting the painful reality of death and express their love, grief and support for one another.
When a loved one dies, before the mortuary is contacted (when possible), please contact our Cathedral Dean, Father Nick who will say the prayers for the departed and will gladly assist the family in the process of contacting the mortuary in preparation for the funeral. He will review the funeral process and participation of the family and faithful in the Orthodox Funeral Service.
The Orthodox Funeral Service is held at the Church (usually 10:00 or 11:00 a.m.) and is normally about an hour long. The Funeral Service consists primarily of the singing of verses from Psalm 119, a series of hymns on the meaning of life and death composed by St. John of Damascus (676-749AD), Scripture readings from St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians 4:13-18 and the Gospel of John 5:24-30 and a brief homily/eulogy by the priest. In the Scripture readings, prayers and hymns of the Funeral Service, a dramatic dialogue takes place between God, the deceased and everyone in attendance. The service acknowledges the painful realities of human existence and the frailty of life, yet reminds those present of God's infinite mercy and love. It asks that we "ponder how brief our life is" but also speaks of the power of the Risen Christ, the Kingdom of God, the resurrection of the dead and immortality. At the conclusion of the service, everyone present is invited to come forward to venerate the cross and offer their final respects to the deceased. Our tradition as Orthodox Christians is that only the priest offers the homily/eulogy during services in Church. Family members and friends who wish to speak and share memories may do so at the graveside or the memorial meal (dacha).
The traditional Dacha or Meal of Blessing
Following the graveside service, it is customary to invite everyone to a meal commonly referred to as the dacha. Father Nick will check our hall calendar and let the family know which hall is available for use. Cathedral members do not pay to use the hall for a dacha. A non member family may use the hall facilities if the funeral service is performed by the Saint Steven’s priest or his designee, at the cost of the current hall rental listing and stole fee.
The family and family friends may prepare the meal but a kitchen supervisor must be present if the cooks are not familiar with the facility. The family will be responsible for providing all food, linens and set up. They will also be responsible for paying the kitchen supervisor, dishwashers and kitchen usage fee.
If the family does not wish to prepare the meal, Saint Steven’s Women’s Auxiliary should be contacted, as they may be available to prepare the meal. If they not are available, the Women’s Auxiliary Catering, or another approved caterer will usually be available. The manager for Saint Steven’s catering may be reached by contacting the Cathedral office. Caterers will provide food and service of food, set up, dishwashers and linens, set up and clean up. Other charges will be the agreed upon price of the catering of food, linens, clean up/dishwashers, usage, and beverage service. Caterers will be assessed the usual fee for kitchen usage, must provide their own table linens, and must adhere to normal business day hours (9-5 Monday through Saturday) when preparing a meal.
Beverage Usage – The Cathedral’s beverage manager, Jonathan Savic is to be notified by the family to advise what beverages they wish served. Payment for beverage services will be made directly to the Cathedral after the memorial luncheon, dacha.
Saint Steven’s Memorial Endowments in lieu of flower tributes
One of the many blessings of Saint Steven’s Cathedral in Alhambra is its strong and dedicated group of faithful supporters. Over the years, a variety of people have given money to Saint Steven’s Endowment Fund and we have been blessed by their faithfulness. Their gifts invested through the years have provided substantial dollars to support the work of the Cathedral. Some church members and parishioners have even established an Endowment by putting the Cathedral in their Will or Estate Plan. Perhaps the greatest reward of giving to the Endowment or Legacy Fund is the knowledge that the gift, regardless of its size, will continue to assist the ministry and work of Saint Steven’s Cathedral as it proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ to generations well into the future.
Memorial Endowments serve as lasting memorials to the departed and provide income exclusively for the perpetuation of Saint Steven’s Cathedral.
In lieu of floral tributes at a funeral of a loved one, in the obituary, you may request that donations be made to Saint Steven’s Cathedral and those donations may be used to set up a Memorial Endowment in their memory. A minimum of $3,500 is required to establish such a Memorial Endowment. Memorial contributions made to the Cathedral within six months of a funeral may be applied to this minimum.
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