Congratulations! If you are looking at this page, you likely just got engaged and are looking to get your preparations for marriage underway. We want you to have the best marriage possible, and our Preparation for Holy Matrimony is designed to do just that.
What do we do first?
The first thing to do is pray together as a couple. Ask the Lord to assist you in preparing for your lifelong commitment together. Jesus loves to bless us, but he often wants us to ask and to participate in our growth.
"The family that prays together, stays together." - Al Scalpone (March 6, 1947)
Next, call the pastor to set up an appointment. Our policy is to not set a date in the calendar until after the couple has been able to sit down for an initial meeting with the pastor. A $150 deposit (non-refundable) must also be made to the parish before the date is reserved. There are other contributing factors of parish events and other couples who may wish to reserve the same date, so have several options of dates ready when you sit down with the pastor.
"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized." (canon 1055, Code of Canon Law)
Jesus takes marriage seriously, and so as his spouse--the Church--we do too. In order for you to have the best marriage possible we want to make sure you have all the resources and preparation necessary for success. Our parishes follow the policies and guidelines set forth by canon law (the whole Catholic Church), our local diocese, and those established by the parish. At first it will seem like there are a lot of things to be done, which is why we require at least six months of preparation, but the end result will help you to be well informed for your wedding day and the marriage that follows.
A Brief Overview of Requirements
Couples receive a Marriage Preparation Booklet (MPB) with a full outline of requirements and options in planning for marriage when they sit down for the initial meeting with the pastor. Here are some of the primary requirements:
- Four meetings with the pastor.
- Four meetings with an assigned Sponsor Couple from the parish.
- $150 deposit (non-refundable). Additional fees apply and are defined in the MPB, the full balance of which must be paid at least two weeks prior to the wedding date.
- Attendance at the Diocesan Marriage Course or an approved alternative.
- Collection of necessary paperwork: e.g., baptismal certificates, etc.
- Planning of wedding Mass/Service details, liturgy planning, et cetera.
The coordination of schedules between all parties involved in the process is usually the greatest obstacle in the preparation process, though there may be other circumstances that can delay the wedding, e.g., the processing of annulments of previous marriages or serious concerns of the capacity of one of the parties to be able to give consent or live the marriage vows.
Again, all of these elements are covered when you as a couple sit down with the pastor.
The Church presumes that parish members seeking to marry want to get married at the home parish of either the bride or groom. Couples who are not members of our parishes will need to discuss options available to them with the pastor before a date can be set. Additional fees will apply for non-members.
Catholics & Non-Catholics
We welcome those couples of whom one is Catholic and the other is not who wish to be married at our parishes. It is understandable that differences of faith can bring complications to a relationship. Our marriage preparation process addresses the common difficulties faced by those who are entering a "mixed" marriage in the Church. Because of our high regard for the vocation of marriage, as Catholics we have certain expectations of the Catholic party entering marriage, including the promise to raise any children they may have in the Catholic faith. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and so at least the Catholic party is responsible for his or her and the children's weekly attendance at Holy Mass and participation in the life of the parish community. The non-Catholic party does not need to make the same promise, but he or she must be aware of the responsibility of his or her spouse to live out these promises.
Mixed-marriages often bring the challenge of whether or not the wedding will be celebrated within the context of Holy Mass or simply within the marriage Service, due to our faith in the Eucharist and who may or may not receive holy communion. We understand this challenge, and so this choice of Mass or Service can be talked about at length with the pastor during the first meeting before a decision needs to be made. Ultimately, we know couples want their extended family to feel comfortable during the wedding celebration, so the Church has options available.
Marriage Outside the Church
Some couples have chosen to not get married in the Catholic Church but now want their marriage recognized (blessed) by the Church. It is possible to have one's civil marriage blessed, but this usually involves many of the above requirements, including the hours of preparation with the pastor and sponsor couples. Please know that, with Jesus, we desire that your marriage be blessed, and we are ready to help make it happen.
It is important to understand that our Catholic faith not only brings great blessings as we learn how to live in relationship to God and one another, but it also places the responsibility for us to live in communion with the Church, including through our marriage. Therefore, we encourage couples to involve the Church in their marriage as much as possible, especially before the wedding.
2nd Marriages / Remarriage / Divorce
These days, it happens more often that couples approaching the Church to be married or have their marriage blessed may have been previously married. It is important to understand how this may affect your readiness to be married in the Church.
- The presumption of the Church is that Catholics marry once, for life, and according to the norms of the Church (i.e., inside a Catholic church with the approved minister). Therefore, any second marriage can only be recognized and blessed after the first marriage is proven to have been invalid. This does not mean the marriage was imaginary, but that the permanent spiritual bond did not form when the vows were made, i.e., making it a sacrament. (see #2)
- Civil divorce is legitimate within the Catholic faith, though it does not mean the person is yet proven free of a spiritual bond formed at the first marriage. We have a sophisticated and fair process of evaluating whether or not a first marriage was valid, that is "lawful": it is called the "annulment process." Jesus said,"Anyone who divorces his wife--unless the marriage was unlawful--and then marries another commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). The annulment process provides a means for the Church to find out if the marriage was, in fact, unlawful.
- The Annulment process is meant to bring healing to an already messy and broken situation. It may involve talking about elements of one's previous relationships, but the benefit is knowing that one is free to marry someone else. The process can take a few months to a year or two, depending on the circumstances. Couples seeking to enter a second marriage must first complete the annulment process before a wedding date can be set.
- Children of a first marriage are not considered illegitimate just because the marriage was declared to be null and void.
- Those who did not marry in the Church but now want to have their marriage blessed must first talk with the pastor.
If you are ready to prepare for your marriage, contact the parish office to set up an appointment with the pastor: 218-631-1593.