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Catholic Burials at Sea

Catholics have been buried at sea since the first ships left the shores. The Catechism states that “bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection.” Modern adaptations from the Vatican indicate that ashes can be placed in a place of meaning for the deceased, “provided that every type of pantheistic, naturalistic, or nihilistic misunderstanding is ruled out.” Which could be interpreted by those as deeply connected to the ocean as the perfect location to honor those who have passed, it is solely up to the deceased and their families. For additional guidance it’s always best to connect to a priest or spiritual advisor. 

Traditional catholic funeral services with a vigil (where the family and friends can view the body) followed by a full service mass (same day or at a later moment) can still be selected by the family to occur in advance of a burial at sea service. Masses can be held with the full body or the cremated remains (Cremation has been permitted in the catholic church since 1963). Burials at sea can also be with the whole body, the cremated remains can be placed in biodegradable urn, or there can be an ash scattering with the cremated remains. 

There are unlimited options for catholic families looking to combine their faith and the pull of the sacred ocean.  

What happens in a traditional catholic burial at sea 

Wake (Virgil): Day 1

A vigil is a serene and solemn occasion for coming together to mourn and view the body for the last time. The activities during a death vigil can differ depending on the family’s preferences. Attendees sit together in quiet reflection. It’s also a space where the family can host a rosary, let family and friends share anecdotes to reminisce about the departed individual, and or play a slideshow. 

Funeral Mass (Liturgy): Day 2

The remains are brought into the church for blessings and final prayers through a mass service. As Catholics believe in an afterlife the mass is focused on the hope for resurrection rather than mourning and sadness. 

Burial at Sea Service: 

A burial at sea can be hosted directly after a mass, the following day, or any other time that is convenient for the family. Some families need additional time for the body to be cremated after the mass and or they aren’t ready to place them yet and prefer to do it on another day of meaning like a birthday or as a 1 year memorial. 

catholic burial at sea ash scattering
What to wear to a catholic burial at sea

Traditionally it is customary to wear black modest clothing to a catholic funeral service. 

What needs to be arranged at the church by the family in advance of the funeral mass. 

Funeral services can vary from parish to diocese so it’s important to verify what is expected, many parishes are more than willing to help make any choices about readings and songs if the amount of choices is too overwhelming. The family will need to confirm with the church the booking time for a service 

Part 1: Introductory Rites

  • Placing of the pall (pallbearers) or presentation of the urn: To be done by which family member

Part 2: Liturgy of the word

  • Reading 1: (Family to choose speaker & reading)
  • Responsorial Psalm: (Family to choose speaker & palsm)
  • Reading 2: (Family to choose speaker & reading)
  • General Intercessions; (Family to choose speaker & intercessions)

Part 3: Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Gifts to be brought forward: (Family to choose)
  • Remarks of remembrance : (Family to choose speaker)

🖨️ Here is an easy printout to bring your selections to your parish: here

For insight Highly advice looking into purchasing:  

Through Death to Life: Preparing to Celebrate the Funeral Mass  by Joseph M. Champlin

Can Catholics be cremated?

Yes. In May 1963, the Vatican’s Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) lifted the prohibition on cremation. This decision was subsequently included in the revised Code of Canon Law of 1983 (Canon #1176) and incorporated into the Order of Christian Funerals. 

Client Reviews

Los Angeles Yacht CharterExcellentLos Angeles Yacht Charter4.9 Based on 260 reviews from ★★★★★ A beautiful yacht and everyone was so kind, thoughtful, and helpful. They truly took care of everything related to the remains I highly recommendChelsea T.Chelsea T. ★★★★★ I held a memorial service on one of their yachts, and it was absolutely beautiful! The crew was so very helpful and so professional and yet gave me and my family. The space we needed when we needed it. It was so nice to have the option of a harp player, a bagpipe player, and doves to be released. We did the doves and it was so beautiful. It was more meaningful than I could ever imagine. I highly recommend their first class service to anyone interestedTammy Van H.Tammy Van H. ★★★★★ My family and I chartered a boat through LA Yacht Charter for scattering of our mother’s ashes. Our host, Carlos did a lovely job. He layed out the ashes in a beautiful display prior to the scattering and Captain Nick got us where we needed to be on time. Everything was handled professionally and all was well organized. It was beautiful and meaningful to my whole family and the dove release was also beautiful!Rosalia R.Rosalia R. ★★★★★ My family and I used Los Angeles Yacht Charter for my brothers ash release at sea on his first heavenly birthday. From the start Brit and her husband were incredibly helpful and made arrangements easy. If I could give them more stars I definitely would. The day of services captain Troy along with his crew member were beyond amazing and made such a difficult time peaceful and beautiful. The boat Lady M is beautiful, clean and perfect for any occasion. My family was so grateful we decided to go in this direction it was everything we could have hoped for. We will definitely be back to use services for my brother's future heavenly birthdays. Thank you all again.Jessica G.Jessica G. ★★★★★ Our experience with LA Yacht Charter was wonderful. It was easy to book, and all our questions were answered quickly. They were waiting for us at the appointed time, and our party of 12 even left the dock early. Chaplain Carlos and Captain Nick and the rest of the crew were very kind and respectful, carefully explaining everything that was going to happen. They include some flowers that are spread with the ashes, but we also brought quite a few of our own to toss into the water, which really felt meaningful. We were very pleased with the whole experience. Thank you all!Pat L.Pat L.js_loader

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Los Angeles Yacht Charter

Los Angeles Yacht Charter is the premier yacht rental company in Southern California. We offer a wide variety of services to help tourists and locals alike enjoy the beautiful moments that the ocean has to offer. Whether you're looking for a private yacht rental for your next vacation, a romantic sunset cruise, a burial at sea, a private fishing trip or a passenger boat rental for a large group, we have you covered.

We understand that not everyone is familiar with the ins and outs of renting a yacht, which is why we offer a concierge service to help you with everything from booking your charter to planning your itinerary. We want you to relax and enjoy your time on the water, so let us take care of the details!


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Based on 260 reviews