Published on February 26, 2014
Marriage preparation Personal and Legal preparations RUBY GRACE MESDE
The saying goes • "When you marry, you don't just marry an individual, you marry a whole family.“ • But more specifically, you are marrying the influences that family has had on your spouse. Our families have shaped our views on everything from religion to finances to sex, and, whether helpful or harmful, these views are brought to our marriage and can unknowingly affect it.
Marriage • Couples preparing for marriage should contact the rectory at least 6 months in advance of desired date. All couples are required to attend a Marriage Preparation Program.
PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE • Your personal preparation is crucial for the success of your marriage. Your family and friends, the priest and the Church as a whole have a responsibility to support you in these preparations. Realizing that you have already begun to think about (your personal relationship), the church has developed a formal preparation required of every couple seeking to be married. This will assist you in exploring those issues in even greater depth.
• The priest or deacon you have selected will be your principal advisor in the formal marriage preparation process. Therefore, you should contact this priest or deacon at least six months before your proposed wedding date. If you plan to be married in a church other than your own parish, or if the priest or deacon whom you have asked to officiate is NOT a member of your parish staff, you should also contact one of your parish priests.
• The priest or deacon who is to assist you in preparing for marriage will give a general overview of the entire preparation period and settle on a schedule of the steps to be taken that is convenient for all concerned. There are five elements in this preparation process.
The Personal Preparation: • You need to select a marriage preparation program from among those certified by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Marriage Preparation and Enrichment office. These are the Pre-Cana Conferences, Sponsor Couple Program (parish based), Remarriage Preparation Program (for couples where one or both have been married previously), and the Engaged Encounter Weekends. For additional information, please contact the Marriage Preparation and Enrichment office, (410) 547-5417.
The Legal Preparation: Civil law requires that the parties present a license valid from the city or county where the marriage is to take place to the clergyman who officiates. The universal law of the Catholic Church requires that parties respond to a pre-marriage questionnaire and furnish certain documents mentioned, including (for Catholic parties) a baptismal certificate of recent date (i.e., within six months of the proposed marriage). The priest or deacon assisting you will present the questionnaire and guide you in obtaining the documents that may be needed.
Personal Preparation: Register for Marriage Preparation • In cooperation with the priest or deacon officiating at your wedding, each couple will participate in a marriage preparation program certified by the Archdiocese of Baltimore listed below. You have several options for completing this element of your marriage preparation. Your parish is the first source to which you should turn for this program.
Parish Sponsor Couple Program • This program is available only at parishes with trained sponsor couples, so inquire about availability at your parish. A married couple from your parish is trained to guide you through your preparation course, using a Pre-marriage Discussion Inventory to facilitate communication and understanding. Meet with the sponsor couple at their home. Register directly with your parish.
Parish Remarriage Preparation • This program is similar to the Sponsor Couple Program, with additional attention to stepfamilies and other special issues of remarrying couples. Remarriage Preparation is only available at those parishes that have teams of remarriage sponsor couples, so inquire about availability at your parish. Register directly with your parish.
• Archdiocesan Remarriage Preparation For schedule and to registration. • Parish Pre-Cana Programs - Your parish may offer a group program open only to parishioners. Check with your parish about this option. Register directly with your parish. • Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends This weekend marriage prepararation program is an approved option. Visit their website to view the schedule and register online.
• Archdiocesan Pre-Cana Conferences These workshop-style group programs are open to any couple. Take a pre-marriage discussion inventory to facilitate communication and understanding. Priority is given to couples from the hosting parishes and programs fill up six to nine months in advance, so inquire promptly at the Archdiocese Marriage and Family Enrichment, (410-547-5420)
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