Were you married outside of the Catholic Church? Would you like to have your marriage blessed by the Church?
This is called the marriage convalidation process, and the Church is here to help.
Couples may find themselves in this situation for a variety of reasons. It may be that a Catholic entered into marriage outside the Church and did not realize that the Church asks us to marry in the Church. Alternately, it might be because one, or both parties, was not free to marry in the Catholic Church due to a previous marriage or because he or she was awaiting an annulment. No matter the situation, now is a great time to explore the convalidation process. Consider this your invitation!
Marriage involves a call from God and a response from two people who promise to build – with the help of divine grace – a lifelong, intimate and sacramental partnership of love and life. Read more about marriage…
The first step in this process is to contact your local parish. When you call or visit the parish, you will likely first speak with the parish secretary. Let that person know that you would like to set up a meeting with a priest to talk about marriage. This will get the process started. Need help finding your parish?
The priest will be your official guide for this process. He will seek to get to know your story so that he can accompany you in a more helpful manner on your journey toward a full sacramental marriage. This will include compiling the necessary paperwork for your marriage file. If an annulment is needed, he can also assist you with that process. If you have any questions along the way it is always better to ask than to guess, so feel free to ask him any questions you may have!
But marrying in a church is much more than an obligation. It’s an opportunity to hold a celebration that is joyful and meaningful, one that can have a positive impact on the rest of your married life. Ready more from “Why Marry in the Catholic Church?” …
Marriage Preparation? Even for us?
Because a convalidation is not simply a renewal of the previous intention to marry but the creation of a valid marriage in the Church, the priest will also guide you through a preparation process to help you as a couple prepare to make these new vows to one another. This process will include some paperwork, ongoing conversations, meetings, attendance at a seminar, prayer, etc. Most of these events will take place locally at your parish. Others are part of the preparation process for all couples preparing for marriage in the Diocese of Rockford which take place in various locations around the diocese. Your priest will help you navigate the requirements of your specific situation.
Here is an overview of what this preparation might entail:
Multiple meetings with a priest or deacon at your parish – This is an opportunity for him to get to know you as individuals and as a couple. It also gives you an opportunity to get to know him and to explore the Catholic faith and marriage-related topics together as a couple with his guidance.
Attendance at a Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation seminar – This seminar is an opportunity for you and your spouse to step away from the busyness of everyday life in order to spend some time in conversation, reflection, and prayer. Many couples who have been married for years have attended this seminar. They have shared with us that this day helped deepen and strengthen the gift of their spousal life. We are optimistic and hopeful that this day can benefit your relationship in a similar fashion. The goal of this seminar is to draw your spousal life into the depth, wisdom and beauty of living marriage as a sacrament. This binds you more deeply to your spouse and draws both of you into the vibrant life that God offers us when we weave His love more perfectly into our family. Click here to REGISTER.
Inventory – Your parish may have you take what is called a Convalidation Inventory. It is basically a series of questions that you and your spouse will each answer. This is a tool specifically designed to help couples identify areas where more conversation would be helpful. A priest, deacon, or mentor couple will then guide you through some discussions.
Instruction in Natural Family Planning – With the help of an instructor (a.k.a. certified NFP Provider) over the course of a few months, a woman will come to understand herself better and both spouses will deepen their understanding of what the Church teaches with regard to married love, the dignity of sexuality, and responsible parenthood.
Planning the ceremony – Some people prefer to keep their convalidation ceremony very simple and small; others like to plan a larger celebration and invite their family and friends. It’s up to you and your priest, so feel free to discuss these details with him.
Should you have any questions, feel free to contact your priest. He will be able to give you specific details about what this entire process will look like for you, based on your parish’s guidelines and what he thinks will be most formative and helpful for you as a couple.