What Is a Catholic Wake Service?

A Catholic wake service is a vigil service where the Christian community gathers with a deceased person’s family to keep watch and pray for mercy and strength while grieving their loved one. A wake usually takes place in a funeral home during the visitation period.

During a wake service, scripture passages can be read and friends or family can give eulogies. The vigil service is a time to remember the life of the deceased person and commend his soul to God. Family and friends gather around to console and support one another during the service, and pray for God to provide comfort and healing during their time of grief. Prayer is a central part of the wake service.

The vigil is typically held the evening before the funeral service, which is the central liturgical celebration for the deceased person and usually includes the celebration of Mass. Because the funeral liturgy is a formal Mass celebration, eulogies are not typically allowed during that time. Thus, the wake service plays an important role in the Catholic funeral process to allow loved ones to come together, share stories of the deceased person’s life, pray for him to be united with God and draw strength from God and each other during a sorrowful time.