Matters of Faith: Making it Legal

…except not legal? Religiously legal? Legitimate? I don’t know…

Anyhow, I’ve mentioned how we’re getting married at my Presbyterian Church, but we aren’t the same religion.

So we’ll be getting married in my church, but it’s still important to Shamrock that our marriage be recognized by the Catholic church. That means going through the Diocese of Chicago to follow the appropriate steps. [I’m not Catholic, but I’ll do my best with how it worked for us.]

First, the Catholic Church does not taking getting married outside of a Catholic church lightly. It was explained to us as “you better have a very good reason,” which is pretty much always a mixed-faith marriage. So a Catholic-Indian wedding in a hotel would be ok because it follows the Indian tradition. Luckily, so is getting married in another church when one half of the couple is a member there. (But if you just always wanted to get married on a beach, it won’t be valid in the eyes of the church.)

We were initially sent several forms, starting with our information form (pretty standard; it looked a lot like what we filled out for my church as well). We were also told we would need freedom to marry affadavits (2 each) and copies of our certificates of baptism and confirmation, both dated no more than six months before the wedding date. We also needed a pre-Cana certificate and a questionnaire completed. (More on all that stuff in a second.)

Shamrock’s church (Old St. Pat’s in the Loop–how appropriate!) required the file be started at least 8 months out, so we submitted our information form (enough to start the file) and then set up an appointment with the priest who handles weddings that will not be at Old St. Pats.

We showed up for our appointment, and he told use to wait in his office, but when he showed up I was promptly dismissed back to the lobby–apparently this is an individual thing. He started with Shamrock (since he’s Catholic), and then it was my turn. He asked some pretty standard questions (about how long we’d known each other and what I do) and then got into the more personal questions:

  • Do you plan to give Shamrock the right to have children?
  • Will you raise your children in a faithful/religious/something home? [I don’t remember the details, but he didn’t say Catholic, which I thought was interesting.]
  • Do you promise to be faithful?

After I got those three right, he paused to let me know those were the answers the church cares about most. Then he wanted some details about my involvement in my own church (I’m pretty involved, so this was no big deal). My portion went a lot faster than Shamrock’s, and then I went and grabbed him from the lobby for the rest.

He reviewed the rest of the requirements with us:

  • We both have to have two people (our parents, or at least someone who has known us since middle school) fill out an affadavit and get it signed by a priest.
  • We need proof of baptism (Mine can be dated whenever, but Shamrock’s must be within 6 months of our wedding date, and he also needs proof of confirmation. This is because Catholics record this in the register at that church.)
  • We need to complete a pre-wedding counseling program. Pre-Cana counts for this, but both churches accept the others program; since we’ve paid for the program at my church as part of our wedding fee, we’ll probably just do that one, but I’m open to doing pre-Cana as well.
  • We need to check in with the wedding coordinator and will have to submit proof of our marriage afterwards.

We don’t plan on having a priest at our wedding (he can’t officiate outside the Catholic church, so he would just be doing a blessing.)  and that’s fine. It sounds like this is up to the individual church you go through–our priest told us it wasn’t necessary and we’ve completed the requirements, but the coordinator from MY church was pretty sure we would need to, so it sounds like requiring a Catholic priest is fairly common.

Our parents have their forms (well, Shamrock’s mom & his sister, and my mom & Dad’s wife), I have my proof of baptism, and we should be on our way to having our marriage recognized by the Catholic church.

I did want to add one more thing: Shamrock is divorced, but had his first marriage annulled (in Northwest Indiana, before we met)–the only way he can get married again and have it recognized by the church. The annulment states you have to do additional preparation or something like that if you get married again, and he did ask the priest and was told he’s good–meeting with the priest counted. Again, I’m sure it depends on the individual church, but this has been our experience.

Are you getting married in a church? Anyone else out there navigating multiple traditions?


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