Lay people will start to conduct funeral services in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, The Tablet can reveal.
Twenty-two Lay Funeral Ministers, men and women, have been commissioned to lead funeral services where there is no Requiem Mass and no priest available.
The move, which comes into effect in the autumn, is due to the declining number of priests and the large number of funerals that take place in parts of the archdiocese.
A leaflet issued by the archdiocese, "Planning a Catholic Funeral", explains that a lay funeral minister can lead the prayer vigil service before a funeral, a funeral service, and the committal, the prayers at the graveside. Lay ministers will only lead a funeral service if there is no priest available.
A spokesman for the archdiocese said the lay ministers were "specifically trained to lead funeral services with an appropriate liturgy of the word, readings and prayers."