Lay people to preside at funerals in England

Liverpool is the first diocese in England and Wales to commission lay people to preside at Catholic funerals.

The commissioning of 22 lay people is an effort to relieve pressure on priests.

“In some of our parishes in the diocese priests are being asked to celebrate over 120 funerals each year,” Archbishop Kelly wrote in The Tablet.

Vocations in Liverpool declined sharply in recent years, and the archdiocese projected that the number of priests will decline from 170 to 100 by 2015.

The move is supported by the archdiocese’s Council of Priests.

Archbishop Kelly said that the lay ministers – some of whom are drawn from the roster of Eucharistic ministers, catechists and religious sisters – would receive continuing support and training to ensure that the service they provide is “of the best quality”.

The move is not seen by Catholics as “second-class”.


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