Marriage - Preparation Guidelines - "Your Wedding Day"
The Catholic Church believes that Christian Marriage is a sacred covenant that fulfills God’s plan for humanity—that it is a relationship between two persons bonded in a permanent union. Our Church desires that couples enter into marriage with the highest degree of freedom and knowledge about the vows they will exchange before god and humanity. Here at St. Margaret Mary our marriage preparation process is designed to help couples “begin with the end in mind” and to better understand the challenges they will encounter in their marital relationship.
Couples desirous of celebrating their marriage ceremony at St. Margaret Mary must contact our church office a minimum of six (6) months in advance of your anticipated marriage date and be officially registered at our parish for a minimum of six (6) months prior to beginning your marriage preparation. At least one of the parties making application for marriage must be a baptized, practicing Catholic.
The couples are asked to take the FOCCUS or RE-FOCCUS Inventory to encourage going deeper on issues related to building a healthy, holy, permanent marriage. Couples who are getting married for the first time are required to take the FOCCUS and couples married civilly more than three years are required to take the RE-FOCCUS.
First developed in 1985, the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study) Pre-Marriage Inventory, is widely known and used by marriage educators in a variety of settings in the United States and around the world. Research based and offered in multiple editions and languages, the Inventory addresses the relationship challenges faced by today’s couples in a user-friendly format at a reasonable price. Couples complete the Inventory online, SEPARATELY, and then participate in facilitated discussion on key topic areas. They also have the opportunity to review, reflect and discuss together particular strengths and growth opportunities within their relationship as they prepare for lifelong marriage. Neither the FOCCUS nor the RE-FOCCUS Inventories are not “tests” and are not meant to label couples or predict marital outcome. The Inventory was developed for use with couples of all ages, those preparing for a first or subsequent marriage, couples marrying within different faith traditions, married in a civil ceremony, and couples who may or may not be bringing children to the marriage.
The couple is then given an interview with a priest or deacon of their choice. At that meeting the priest or deacon gives them an overview of the church’s expectation for their marriage. In most situations, this is the priest or deacon who will officiate at the marriage ceremony.
During a subsequent meeting the priest or deacon shares the result of the FOCCUS inventory, discusses the date for their marriage, completes the necessary paperwork for ongoing preparation, including sessions with a married couple to discuss the FOCCUS or RE-FOCCUS inventory, and the 2 day marriage formation sessions at the parish. All necessary documents are also collected at this time.
Subsequent meetings with the priest (or deacon) can be arranged when seen as necessary.
PREPARING For Sacramental Marriage: for the newly engaged
The Catholic Church is not just a beautiful place for your wedding. The Church has the wisdom to help you live out your most noble intentions, to have a forever marriage, rich beyond your dreams. We welcome Catholics and non-Catholics who desire the Sacrament of Matrimony. Research suggests 2 key factors determine how much a couple will benefit from marriage preparation: how willing the couple is to learn something about Christian marriage and how much each person is committed to the lifelong task of becoming a better person. Please contact the parish office at least 6 months in advance to complete the steps below. (Please note steps 4 & 5 below may occur in different order depending on your situation.)
STEP 3: Complete the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory. Logons provided though parish office.
STEP 4: Complete the Sacrament of Marriage Program. Offered 3 times a year usually in February, April, and August. Class is a 10 hour class beginning on Friday evening 6:30-8:30pm AND continuing on Saturday 8am-4pm. Couples must complete both sections to meet this requirement. Specific topics addressed in these sessions include: communication, spirituality, money and practical issues, family of origin, personality, sexuality, and parenting. CLas material combines 2 national Catholic resources: TOBET4ENGAGED: A Christ Centered Guide for Happy Marriages by the Theology of the Body Evangelization Team in Dallas TX and UNITAS: Preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage by St John’s University.
STEP 5: Discuss FOCCUS inventory with sponsor couple. Sponsor couple assigned by the parish. 3 sessions required.
PREPARING For Sacramental Marriage- for those civilly married more than three years:
STEP 3: Complete the REFOCCUS Marriage Enrichment Inventory. Logons provided though parish office.
STEP 4: Complete the Sacrament of Marriage Program. Offered 3 times a year usually in February, April, and August. Class is a 10 hour class beginning on Friday evening 6:30-8:30pm AND continuing on Saturday 8am-4pm. Couples must complete both sections to meet this requirement. Couples civilly married more than 3 years and who might already be parenting children, will complete breakout sessions specific to what the couple has achieved, what can be celebrated, and what would benefit from further discussion.
STEP 5: Discuss REFOCCUS inventory with sponsor couple. Sponsor couple assigned by the parish. 3 sessions required.
Resources for all couples to review:
"Saying I Do: What Happens at a Catholic Wedding," http://www.foryourmarriage.org/saying-i-do-what-happens-at-a-catholic-wedding
Our Wedding Day Preparation Information for St. Margaret Mary Church: https://stmargaretmary.org/ministries/sacraments/marriage-preparation-information-our-wedding-day
Pope Francis: List of tips to make a marriage work
What is an Annulment?
An understanding of a Church annulment has to be based within the Church's teaching of the Sacrament of Marriage. The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a community of life and love, an enduring partnership between a man and a woman for the giving and receiving of love and for the procreation and education of children. Marriage is a permanent and exclusive covenant, an interpersonal union which extends to the couple's total life together, to physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual community, and to the procreation and education of their children.
According to Catholic church teaching, every valid marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament, and thus it is permanently binding and cannot be dissolved. In addition, the Church recognizes the validity and permanence of the marriages of unbaptized persons. The Church teaches that certain elements must be present in order for a marriage to be valid. Some of these would be minimal maturity, a personal commitment to marriage and to the other party, average emotional stability, a belief that marriage is a lifelong and faithful union, an openness to children, and a sufficient evaluative judgment in entering marriage.
An annulment ( also called a "decree of nullity") is a judgment of a Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Church concerning the invalidity of a particular union. If an annulment is granted, it means that in the eyes of the church a basic element was missing from the union in question from the very beginning, and that on account of this, it was not a valid sacramental marriage from the start. The annulment does not deny that a real relationship may have existed, nor does it imply that the union was entered with ill will or moral fault. Rather, an annulment states that the relationship fell short of at least one of the elements seen as essential for a true, valid Christian marriage. Finally, an annulment does not seek to establish guilt or innocence, but rather validity or invalidity.
“What Difference Does it Make?”
There are many people attending Catholic parishes or in Catholic families whose marriage is somehow not fully recognized by the Church. Catholic Church law ordinarily requires baptized Roman Catholics to marry before a priest or deacon. Unless they requested and received a "dispensation from canonical form," Catholics who exchange marriage vows in the presence of ministers from other religious traditions or authorized civic officials are not considered having a valid, sacramental marriage.
Those couples may seek to have their union officially recognized by the Church. (In technical terms, this is known as “convalidation” of a marriage.) After a convalidation, they are able to fully participate in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church.
Preparing for a convalidation is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on and deepen your relationship. It can make a difference!
For more information, call Marlena Templet @ 407-998-5657
If you are in need of your Marriage certificate you can fill out this form: https://stmargaretmary.org/sacrament-certificates and we will be happy to help.