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Michael Newhard of Bartholomew Funeral Home On The Inclusion Of Faith At Funeral Services

For many families, faith is an essential part of closure after the loss of a loved one. The funeral is for family and friends to say goodbye to their loved one, but including their faith and beliefs in the service is an important reminder that death is not the end. The bereaved need to be reminded their loved one is in another, better place.

Michael Newhard of Bartholomew Funeral Home understands this and cites how his faith has guided him throughout the years. He understands that each client has different, but essential, religious needs to help see their loved ones move on to their next destination.

“Every client is different than the last,” said Newhard, “When they come to us to prearrange their funeral, we speak with them and get the statistical info in preparation for the death certificate, which includes what faith, religion, or organization they belong to.”

Bartholomew has a dedicated area in their funeral home for religious services, though their staff is aware that many prefer a more traditional setting like a church, or other religious places of worship to hold their funerals.

“That’s something that always changes from client to client as well. We’ll discuss if they want to have the funeral in a church or in the funeral home. For example, Catholics tend to prefer funerals in their church as a funeral mass.”

If the funeral is held in on-site, staff at Bartholomew accommodate to make the setting as familiar to the family if they are religiously driven. Sometimes, this includes adding or removing different items or symbols from the funeral home.

“There’s different symbols at each religious funeral. The most common being the crucifix for Christians and the Star of David for Jewish funerals,” Newhard continued, “But there are things that are often absent at some religious funerals. For example, many Jewish funerals don’t have flowers, or sometimes there is no embalming done.”


Newhard also explained that with some religions and faiths, there is a limited timeline that needs to be met and completed quickly to complete the funeral. Clients that are Jewish Orthodox request for the body to be returned to the ground as quickly as possible. This process sometimes needs to be completed within 24 hours from the time of death.

“Every funeral is a learning experience. Most of my life has revolved around my faith, so I empathize with clients and I understand how important it is to get each detail right.”

Newhard was raised Catholic and attends mass regularly at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Valparaiso.

“The faith is truly embedded with me. I grew up as an altar server and I did that until I was at least in high school. That probably was my first brush with funerals. I did other services like weddings as well, too. At both services sometimes we received tips from a person attending the service, which as a kid you think is great!”

Even though his years of being an altar server are over, Newhard is highly active with his church. Since arriving to St. Paul’s, he has been a member of the church board in the past and is currently a eucharistic minister.

“I deliver the eucharist to people in the hospital that can’t make it to church for communion. Sometimes the patients are going into surgery or recovering for surgery. It’s a time they have a lot of uncertainty and angst in their lives. I enjoy going there, speaking with the patients, and saying prayers with them. It's a big deal for both of us usually.”

If you would like to know more about Bartholomew Funeral Home or have questions about religious services provided, please visit for more information.


Bartholomew Funeral Home
102 E. Monroe St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383
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