Let me just say that the Catholic Church doesn’t want its people to get divorced. Although I grew up in a Catholic household, went to Catholic school, know many people who went through the marriage steps, attended many Catholic weddings, I knew nothing of this right of passage.
Here is what is required at our parish, St. Dominic’s, in order to get married and have it recognized by the Man.
Well, before I start, let me add that you must be a registered parishioner. If not a registered parishioner, you must get the permission of your own pastor. And if none of the above and you have a special circumstance (i.e., you’re a typical Catholic who only goes to church on Christmas and Easter), then you have to write a letter explaining your situation.
Ever since moving to San Francisco, my parish has been St. Agnes which was a block away from where I first lived on the Panhandle. As much as I love my church, the easiest thing for us as a couple was to setup parishioner status at St. Dominic’s. We chose St. Dominic’s because of convenience and we liked their marriage program.
If you think wedding planning is hard, take a look at what we have to do for the religious aspect.
The preparation period is six months prior to the wedding.
We each separately take a 90 minute test, bubbling in information on goals, family, sex, commitment, values, conflict resolution. The test is scored, then you are called in to meet with the Church’s family therapist to go over the results. She summarizes the results and the joint discussion and writes a letter to the pastor of the Church.
You must meet at least three times with a priest. We’ve met with ours twice already and I can’t imagine only meeting with him one additional time. I feel like we’ll be meeting with him up through our June wedding.
You must take the Church’s introductory wedding classes.
You must take the Natural Family Planning class.
You must attend an Engaged Encounter weekend.
The pastor of our parish talked about the importance of all these steps and how many couples complain about fulfilling the obligations. “I never said that you need to rent out a winery and buy nice flowers and get matching outfits. That’s your problem. A wedding is one day. A marriage is a lifetime. Think about that. What do you want to spend more time preparing for? A day or a lifetime? If I had my druthers, we’d have a nice ceremony here at the church. You tell all your friends to bring food and wine, then we head to the park and have a hell of a time, yeah?”