Congratulations on your decision to marry! The next months will be busy ones as you plan your wedding celebration and prepare for your up-coming marriage. We hope during this exciting time that you take time to listen to God’s call in your lives as you journey toward a Christ-centered marriage.

The following policies of the Diocese of Saint Cloud have been carefully designed with you and your future in mind. It is from a profound concern for couples, like you, who are planning to be married that we strive to provide quality marriage preparation. The issues and pressures you face today are more demanding and stressful than ever before. By focusing on Gospel principles, you will begin your marriage with the tools that will make a faithful, lifelong love possible.

 

Length of Preparation

Engagement and marriage preparation is a time for discernment of God’s call to commit to each other for the rest of your life. Sufficient time is needed to discover strengths and areas for growth of your relationship and to understand the meaning of the vocation of marriage. When you call to arrange for a wedding date, the date is considered “tentative” until the marriage preparation process is completed. Couples begin the marriage preparation process immediately following engagement, no fewer than six months prior to the wedding celebration.

The marriage preparation course and discussion of the Fully Engaged inventory must be completed three months prior to the wedding.

The Process

Within two weeks of your engagement, arrange a meeting with the priest or deacon in your parish. He will guide you through the process of preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. You will:

  • Complete the pre-nuptial investigation with your priest or deacon.
  • Review the parish guidelines and diocesan policy.
  • Take the Fully Engaged pre-nuptial inventory.
  • Discuss with your priest or deacon the Church’s teachings on marriage and faith development, including an explanation of chastity.

At least three to six months before your wedding, you will:

  • Attend the Marriage Preparation Course. (dates and locations)
  • Meet with your priest, deacon or trained Sponsor Couple to discuss the Fully Engaged inventory. This will take approximately four to five meetings.
  • Supply your priest or deacon with a current copy of your baptismal certificate, if you are marrying outside the parish of your baptism.

Three months to six weeks before your wedding, pray together and select Scripture readings, petitions, music, etc.

Forty-five days to one month prior to your wedding, meet with your priest, deacon or parish staff to discuss details of the wedding liturgy.

Either a few days prior to your wedding or after your rehearsal, participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (for Catholic persons.)

Delay in Marriage

If serious difficulties become evident during the course of your preparation, you may decide or the priest may recommend that the marriage should be postponed. The decision to delay is made only after serious and prayerful deliberation and with appropriate consultation. Appropriate referral for counseling will be provided by the priest if there is a delay.

If a couple wishes to appeal a decision made by their priest not to witness their marriage, the couple may appeal to the diocesan bishop or his delegate.

A priest or deacon may not witness the marriage of a couple after another priest has decided not to witness the marriage, unless permission is given by the Bishop.

Ecumenical Guidelines

If you or your fiancé is not Catholic, marriage preparation is an opportunity to grow in your knowledge of your own faith while developing a sensitivity and respect of your partner’s faith tradition. Your priest or deacon will provide you with a copy of “Ecumenical Guidelines for Roman Catholics Marrying Other Christians” and discuss ways you can build a life of faith together.

Remarriage

If you and/or your fiancé were previously married, your preparation will also include:

  • In the case of a civil divorce, you will need to provide a divorce decree and procure a declaration of nullity from the diocesan Tribunal, establishing freedom to marry. Counseling may be required, as indicated on the declaration of nullity.
  • Address grief issues and closure of the first marriage, step parenting, and blended family issues, when appropriate.
  • Participate in a diocesan approved marriage or remarriage weekend, conference or series of classes as recommended by your priest or deacon.

Validation of Marriage

If you have been civilly married and are seeking a validation in the Church, preparation of the Sacrament will follow the length of preparation previously stated. You will participate in an approved marriage preparation course or marriage enrichment weekend which emphasizes the issues of sacramentality and faith development. You will also complete and discuss with your priest, deacon or Sponsor Couple the Fully Engaged inventory. Your priest or deacon will recommend the appropriate weekend and inventory.

Cohabitation

If you and your fiancé are living together before marriage, your priest or deacon will discuss with you your living situation and challenge you to follow the teachings of the Church, to live separately and chastely. He will answer your questions and provide you with a copy of “Living Together: Questions and Answers Regarding Cohabitation and the Church’s Moral Teaching.” He will give you time to prayerfully reflect and discuss with each other all pertinent issues.

Pregnancy

If pregnancy is a major factor in your decision to marry, caution should be used and serious consideration be given to delay marriage until after the birth of your child. A professional evaluation is required. If the evaluation indicates that professional counseling is required a decision is made by the priest to delay the marriage.

Teen Marriages

The priest or deacon will not witness the marriage of anyone under the age of eighteen. Marriage preparation may begin, but the marriage itself will not take place. If either you or your fiancé are under the age of 20, the decision to proceed may be given only after the Fully Engaged inventory has been completed, reviewed and discussed with you by the priest or deacon.

Special Concerns

In individuals requesting marriage, a professional evaluation is required if there is evidence of:

  • Active chemical dependency (e.g. alcohol, drugs)
  • Other addictions (e.g. gambling, internet, pornography)
  • Physical, sexual or psychological violence
  • A history of psychological or emotional problems
  • Physical or mental disabilities

If the assessment indicates that counseling or treatment is required a decision is made by the priest to delay the marriage.

Marriage Preparation Outside the Diocese, i.e. Military Couples/Absent Partner(s)

If you intend to marry in the Diocese of Saint Cloud, you will follow all diocesan policies.

If you or your fiancé are in the military or live outside the area, it is the responsibility of the celebrant to make sure the Fully Engaged inventory is taken, scored here, discussed with you and areas of concern are shared with the other location. The priest or deacon assists you in marriage preparation and/or helps you with referral to a pastor in your respective locations.

If both of you reside outside our diocese, you must be in contact with the priest or deacon of the parish in which you intend to be married. He will discuss with you the marriage preparation requirements and then be in contact with the priest or deacon in the diocese of your residence to convey to him the preparation that is required.

If one of you is a resident, you will attend the Marriage Preparation Course together. If not possible, the resident must still complete the Marriage Preparation Course alone, and will be provided with materials for the non-participant.

Ethnic and Cultural Differences

If you are unable to communicate in the same language as the priest or deacon preparing you for marriage, the priest or deacon will contact the Office of Multicultural Ministries or the Office of Marriage & Family for assistance with resources.

If you are not able to communicate in the same language with each other, the priest or deacon will contact the Office of Marriage & Family before going forward with the preparation.