”We want to get married. What is the first step?”
- Call your parish priest to set up a meeting — before you set a date.
- Notify your pastor one year in advance of the anticipated wedding date.
- There is a lot of paperwork to be completed and legwork to be done. It can be a painless trek if you understand the requirements of the Catholic Church, as well as those of your pastor and parish.
Unlike the common, everyday civil marriage, the aspect of covenant and sacrament will play a key role. A covenant is a serious and permanent commitment, and there are programs in place to help you and your intended spouse begin to learn about “what it takes” to be married. Meetings with your pastor are required to discuss the various aspects of your wedding ceremony.
Requirements & Programs
There are several basic requirements for Catholics wishing to be married in the Diocese of Greensburg.
- Age – Of enough emotional maturity that enables one to grasp the meaning of conjugal covenant and to accept that covenant as permanent; usually 18 years or older – special provisions are necessary for persons under 18.
- Freedom to marry – An internal free choice of will with no sense of fear or threat of force present; no previous valid union that would be recognized by the church; and no canonical impediments such as Holy Orders, etc.
- Due discretion – A discernment of judgment proportional to the importance of the conjugal covenant; knowing what one is doing and being capable of doing it.
- Knowledge and ability to form a community of love/life – You understand yourself enough that you are aware of and understand most of your thoughts, needs, feelings, hopes, passions, dreams, fears, etc.; understand your partner enough that you recognize his or her family, history, assets, liabilities, feelings, etc.
- Openness to children – Committed to responsible parenthood and working in partnership with God to raise loving, responsible and faith-filled children.
Marriage preparation programs are the way in which the Catholic Church helps you learn about the life you are about to enter as a married couple. The wedding is a day, and marriage is for the rest of your life. Accordingly, the following programs exist to provide you with a foundation about marriage.
Engaged couples seeking marriage in the Diocese of Greensburg are expected to complete marriage preparation in one of three ways:
- Mentor Couple – Also referred to as the Sponsor Couple program, this program serves as the primary program in the Diocese of Greensburg. It is offered for engaged couples who wish to meet in private with a trained parish couple. The sessions cover issues encountered in the day-to-day living of married life. The engaged couple meets in the mentor couple’s home for a series of four, informal two-hour sessions. These are very relaxed meetings, and there is no cost. The sessions are scheduled at times convenient to both couples.
- Catholic Engaged Encounter – This is a weekend program run by the independent national organization, Engaged Encounter. Engaged couples attend and room at a retreat center from Friday evening through Sunday morning. There is a fee to cover the cost of room and board. A series of sessions are held in large groups, with married couples making presentations that address particular circumstances of married life. Details are located at www.engagedencounter.org or view the diocesan brochure.
- Evenings for the Engaged – A program where parishes in the Diocese of Greensburg have their own private, large group sessions, exclusively for their parishioners. A team of married couples or the parish priest presents topics similar to the way in which they are presented at the Engaged Encounter weekend. The engaged couples have the opportunity to dialog with one another about the topics. The cost, as well as the number of topics and length of time devoted to these sessions, varies by parish. Only a few parishes in the diocese offer this program and we are blessed to offer it here at Immaculate Conception.
“Do we have to do this?” The short answer is “yes.”
- Seriously think about what you are about to do.
- Marriages fail, in part, because of unanticipated and unfulfilled expectations.
- Think about all the planning that is involved for a one-day wedding.
- Now compare that to the planning for decades of married life to which you are committing yourself.
Simply having a good relationship with your partner at the present time is not going to be enough. You both will need to change to grow into the role of husband and wife. Understanding this upcoming relationship, and discussing your thoughts and plans with each other, is essential for a successful marriage. It is also important to know God’s plan for you together and to learn about true love. With Christ at the center of your marriage, like a braided cord, Jesus, you and your fiancé will be a strong source of true love.