(Closed) Complications with the church…have advice?

posted 5 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
Member
384 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

We had a horrible time getting the church to allow us to marry in. Fiance and I are from two different hometowns, I have been going to church every sunday AND monday (went to catholic school) until I graduated college in 2009. Fiance has had the same church since he was a baby, and even attended their catholic school. While he wasn’t going on the regular, mostly holidays, his family attends all the time. We had since moved to Florida (both from NY, where the wedding will be as well) and decided upon a Catholic Ceremony since its a huge part of our lives. We immediately contacted his church (since i”m from a small town and he’s from an actual city it made more sense to have the wedding there), the priest wouldn’t let us because we weren’t members of the congregation any longer. This literally went back and forth from calling my home town priest, to any one I knew in the diocese (my grandma is principal of a catholic school and knows many people lol). Finally the priest “allowed” us to get married in his church, with a “small fee” of 200.00 just for the church, if you want the priest thats another 200.00 and bc we’re not members anothe 150.00 etc. Oh also he wouldn’t let us have the wedding at 2pm like originally scheduled bc a more active member was getting married that same day so we were bumped to noon.

 

I could not believe after all these years of being involved in the Church its this hard to get married there. In the end I almost gave up. I kept saying its not worth the stress, but then I decided how I really wanted a traditional wedding, and to me that meant in a church. So I guess I settled for the fees, and the ridiculous noon wedding lol

We did our pre cana in FL and now have to meet a priest here (we haven’t even joined a church yet lol) who can then contact the priest where the wedding will be and “recommend” us for marriage..ugh

 

GOOD LUCK!

Post # 4
Member
1326 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

One of the conditions of getting married in our church is being registered members of the church. I think that’s fairly common? The membership of our church is pretty large, but they’re trying hard to grow. I believe it’s a combination of being most accomodating to members’ weddings and encouraging people to register.

Based on the Priest’s email, it sounds like he’s against having the vows recited anywhere but the Church. That seems like a fairly mainstream point of view. I am not sure why you would want to do that anyway?

When you meet, mention your mutual interest in Catholic marriage preparation. Emphasize what the Sacrament of Marriage means to both of you and why you are seeking a Catholic marriage. The Catholic Sacrament of Marriage is a lot different than a civil marriage, which I am sure you know if you have been a practicing Catholic for a long time. Perhaps the Priest has misunderstood?

Post # 5
Member
993 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@mrschmura:

I know its really tough to deal with the church…it took us months to get a phone call back just to meet with our Pastor.

Maybe attend mass and sign up as a member of the church and let the pastor see that you are committed?  I know getting the other parish to send a letter is annoying but he’s just following the protocol.  You don’t have to be a signed up member of your parish church because based on where you live you are considered part of that parish.  Just let them know that you are choosing to go to the other one and can the pastor send a letter acknowledging that.  

I find meeting face to face works much better in these situations, as email doesn’t always give the opportunity to discuss things that people aren’t seeing the same way.  I would recommend you make a meeting with your pastor and go see him, explain the situation.  Skip past the marriage coordinator lady if possible to avoid miscommunication.  If you need to, have your old pastor with whom you served with write a letter as a sort of reference.

Are you intending to have two full ceremonies? One for the church and then one outside? This is a bit confusing as you seem to be doubling up – it kind of looks like you don’t consider the Catholic marriage real so you have to re-do it over right after (I think that’s how the pastor might see it).  

Don’t give up!  Just be very clear and firm with what you want.  I honestly think they make it difficult on purpose so you have to work for it – its good practice for marriage, but frustrating.  It is a beautiful time in your life and the sacrament is so meaningful… you’ll get there and once you do it will feel so good.  Good luck!!!

 

Post # 6
Member
831 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

From what he wrote it seems clear that he definitely has an issue with you having a “ceremony” anywhere other than the church. 

You need to clarify with him that you did not choose your words correctly and that the celebration aftewards is a reception for your guests only, and does not include a ceremony.  I am assuming that is what you meant, right?  If you are getting married in the Church, that is the only ceremony you need.

Go meet the pastor in your home parish and nicely explain the situation. Hopefully he will not make you jump through to many hoops to get the letter.

Post # 7
Member
347 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

@mrschmura: 

Canon Law requires Catholics to get married in their own parishes.  Their parish priest can give permission and help make arrangements to get married at another parish, but he still has pastorial authority over his parishioners.  As such, the marriage prep would take place at your own parish.

You do not need to be worried about not settling down in a parish you like.  Your parish is determined by where you live.  What makes it confusing is that we can become members at neigbhoring parishes without moving.  We do this through registration. 

Canon Law also explicitly forbids two ceremonies taking place because the marriage is formed through the consent exchanged.  The priest is a witness to this consent.  Having a second ceremony makes it seem like its just a formality.  As such the advise the priest gave you is correct.

 

I will admit, though, its very frustrating.  My husband and I were devout Catholics, and I thought the only reason it’d be difficult is if a priest saw there was an impediment to our marriage.  I kept thinking people were judging me, like “Wait you’re seeking us?  Did another priest reject you?  Is that why you’re coming here?” 

Post # 8
Member
2712 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@mrschmura:  Honestly, this all sounds pretty standard.  Most Catholic churches require you to be a member of their parish before they will marry you.  Many do it because they don’t want people getting married in the church for pretty pictures, to have the ceremony to appease family, or if they do not fully believe in the Sacrament (ie want the Catholic wedding but don’t have any intention of attending mass afterwards).  You can’t really blame them for not wanting to be taken advantage of.

We got married in the church I grew up in.  But because I now live 500 miles away, I had to register with my current parish here, take all the Pre-Cana classes, meet with my current priest, and then he would send a letter to the priest who was marrying us stating that we could be married in the church.

I also think your priest is hesitant because you said you plan to have a second ceremony.  Why are you having a second ceremony?  I can understand how having another ceremony would give the impression that the Catholic one wasn’t good enough or you are not taking it seriously.

As you know, getting married in the Catholic church is a big deal.  You can’t just call up a priest, select a date, and call it good.  I suggest registering at your current parish and start communicating with both priests.  You’re going to have to do your marriage prep anyway and it will most likely be with the priest who is closest to you.  I’m also confused as to what this second ceremony is.  I’ll need more details on that before I can offer up any advice.

 

Post # 10
Member
1310 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

@mrschmura:  I’m so sorry for all this trouble! The priest your dad talked to is correct that often there is a ceremony at the church and then a second event outside. The thing is though that the ceremony at the church is always the “real” aka legal wedding. You can still have the garden celebration… but at that point you will already have been married.

I think the priest is trying to say this in his email but not getting it across properly.

I don’t want to suggest you be dishonest or sneaky or anything but nobody is going to watch you and tell you off if you happen to repeat your vows at the garden reception. You could treat it as a vow renewal of sorts. About 12 hours later…

the key thing is they don’t want you to be thinking that the Church part of it is just a bit of administrative paperwork or a dingy chore to be gotten out of the way before the pretty ‘real’ outdoor party with all the guests and pomp and circumstance. The Church ceremony is the big deal, the real thing, the whole enchilada, and the outdoor thing is just icing on the cake. 

I think probably the priest is worried that you have the wrong emphasis esp. if you planned the garden part of it before planning the church part. It makes it seem like you think the outside bit is more important. I’m sure that’s not the case, just trying to read his mind here.

Don’t give up though! Are you willing perhaps to just have the reception outside? That’s what I would do in this situation.

Post # 11
Member
1326 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

What about asking the priest if he’d do some other sort of blessing outside? Like maybe bless and item for your home, something like that? Maybe a cross? They did that at our engagement encounter and I thought it was pretty nice.

There’s so much ceremonial stuff in the Catholic Church, I feel like you could find *something* to do outside besides another set of vows.

 

Post # 12
Member
330 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@mrschmura:  What was your home parish? Darling Husband was a member at St. Louise in Bellevue, we went there for a while, but since I’m not Catholic (Lutheran) we’ve had a hard time finding a place where we are both comfortable. I don’t necesssarily have a problem with attending mass, I just thought StL was too big (they have like 6 masses/weekend and 3,000 families! My home church has ~50 people). So since we’ve moved to Seattle, we’ve tried a few places but haven’t found a new home.

That being said: we had troubles with the church & getting married too. The Seattle archdiocese is very traditional. Unlike Yakima or Spokane, where they’re a bit more flexible and…progressive…Seattle is not. So, it can be hard to get married in the church if you’re not both Catholic (because they give preference). We ended up doing our Catholic PreCana & a Lutheran ceremony.

You can always have a ceremony & later do a blessing, like @solidarity suggested. Although, if they’re going to be strict about it, you might want to find a different church (not what you want to hear) or do a Catholic ceremony (without a full mass if you don’t want to. Your call) and have a reception elsewhere. They are REALLY hesitant to do a “church” ceremony and then let you have a civil ceremony. You can argue, but I don’t think you’ll win…from experience 🙁

Also, until we started planning our wedding, I kinda liked the Catholic Church. Since then, I’m pretty ambivalent. But we had a bunch of problems with our ceremony.

Good luck!

Post # 13
Member
275 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

This reminds me that I need to become a member of my now-hometown church.  Thanks for the reminder!

 

Good luck~I hope it works out the way you want!

Post # 14
Member
3697 posts
Sugar bee

@mrschmura:  Good luck with getting all of this settled! A couple of thoughts:

– Part of the misunderstanding seems to come from the difference between how parishes define membership and how ordinary laypeople usually think of it. For us in the pews, we consider ourselves “members” of a parish when we join it by registering, or by attending there regularly. If we stop going to church for a while, or move and haven’t started attending a new parish yet, we tend to think of ourselves as “not really having a parish yet/not being a member anywhere.” Administratively, though, it doesn’t quite work like that. Parishes are geographic divisions of a diocese, and wherever you live, you are automatically a member of that parish by default, whether or not you’ve ever set foot in that church. You can always choose to belong to a different parish by registering somewhere else, but, if you haven’t done that, you default to the parish where you live. So, according to the official rules that the priest has to go by, you “belong” to the parish where you live now and he needs to jump through the bureaucratic hoops (i.e. the letter of permission he mentioned) in order to officiate at your wedding. It’s not a big deal, really, couples do it all the time – but it does create paperwork for the priest. So, he’s not rejecting you or trying to kick you out of your childhood parish. He’s just working with the reality that you now live in a different place and so he has to follow different rules than if you were still living in his church’s territory.

– My second suggestion: if you can make it work with the distance, etc., definitely go talk to your priest in person (or at least over the phone) rather than via email or through the parish secretary. Parish secretaries aren’t always the best or most accurate conduits of information, especially if there are wrinkles or special circumstances involved (as there clearly are here). And face-to-face communication is just much better for making sure that all parties understand one another and misinterpretations get cleared up. Even over the phone you at least have tone-of-voice cues that can help avoid misunderstandings. So try to talk (not write) directly to your priest to start sorting this out.

 

 

 

Blessings, good luck, and Happy Easter!

 

 

 

Post # 15
Member
3720 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@mrschmura:  I am sorry you are going through this. What we ended up doing was joining the parish where we are living now. We registered, attended mass for a month, then asked the priest about getting married. It was way easier than getting married at my home parish.

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