Engaged Couple Interview with Priest
So, you’re getting married in the Catholic Church and you’ve booked a meeting with the parish priest. You may be wondering: What questions will the priest ask? We’ve got you covered below!
We’re really glad you’re here and are honoured to be part of your journey to marriage. The Catholic Church is a community of believers with diverse personalities. Like you, we have good days and bad days and although we try to be consistently cheerful and helpful, you may find that we are sometimes a little abrupt or resistant to some of your ideas.
There can be all sorts of reasons for this – father may have been called to the hospital in the middle of the night or have come from a difficult meeting. The parish secretary may be caring for a dying parent or a truant child – yes indeed – we are normal people, with everyday worries and stresses.
Another reason may be because your specific request falls outside what is permitted in Catholic weddings, such as re-writing the vows or omitting certain essential elements from the ceremony. Some parishes also have policies regarding confetti, flowers, photography and schedules. Please don’t take it personally if we disappoint you in some way as we are trying our best to help.
While there are variations in the paperwork requirements in each state or country, usually the following is required:
- Minimum 6 months’ notice – some places require 12 months’ notice so please check with your local Catholic parish or diocese.
- Birth certificate (and passport and visa details if not a citizen).
- Baptism certificate (this should be less than 6 months old and can be issued by the parish where you were baptised).
- If either fiancé was previously married: documentation regarding the former spouse’s death, or the divorce and annulment.
In some countries, Catholic priests/deacons are registered with civil authorities to officiate the legal requirements. These usually have additional paperwork or applications.
But don’t worry! The priest or parish administrator will assist you in completing all necessary paperwork. If you are uncertain what is required, reach out for assistance.
Right now, your love is vibrant and strong. It can be hard to imagine that you might ever be in the difficult circumstances that bring some marriages undone, but the reality is that hardship can strike any marriage.
To prepare you for the life-long commitment of Catholic marriage, you are required to complete a preparation course. Even if you have been previously married, are living together or are of mature years, the formation is an essential part of your spiritual and emotional preparation for marriage.
Most couples find this formation experience extremely valuable. The specific formation requirements vary from parish to parish but generally will include:
- Practical relationship skills to assist you with communication, conflict resolution and decision making.
- Training in fertility awareness.
- Education in the theology of Catholic marriage and in the theology of sexual love.
- Spiritual formation and faith development.
- Participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).
- Preparation of the wedding liturgy.
In your initial interview, the celebrant/parish leader will talk to you about which resources they use to prepare couples for marriage.
SmartLoving Engaged Online Course
The SmartLoving Engaged online course covers all these elements but you should check with your celebrant before you enroll to be sure that it will be accepted. If he is unfamiliar with it, you can refer him to the SL website where we have information for priests.
Praying and Preparing Spiritually
This is an important formation period for you and the Catholic community wants to support you spiritually. Some parishes invite engaged couples to a parish Sunday Mass where they are blessed by the priest and the community. Others may offer you an informal blessing at the end of your initial interview. If you are open to this, make sure you let the priest know that you would like a blessing.
In addition, you are strongly encouraged to pray regularly, preferably daily, for your upcoming wedding and the commitment you will make. For some suggested prayers, visit the SmartLoving Blog
Most parishes will want to have one or more follow-up interviews with you as you progress through your formation journey. These meetings may be with a parish sponsor couple, the priest or both. They are an opportunity for you to consolidate what you are learning together and deepen your understanding of the vocation of Catholic marriage.
Typical questions you may be asked include:
- Your understanding of the Sacrament and theology of Marriage.
- Your experience of the formation course(s) and your ability to apply the relationship skills taught.
- Strengths and growth areas of your relationship that you have identified.
- Your understanding and willingness to commit to the essential aspects of Catholic Marriage.
- Any questions or concerns you may have about the wedding or entering Catholic Marriage.
Sometimes, the formation process brings to light areas of your life that need healing. We strongly encourage you to take the opportunity now, before the wedding, to address anything that might inhibit your ability to make a free and total gift of yourself to your future spouse. Your celebrant, sponsor couple, or other parish/diocesan leaders will be able to assist you with referrals to appropriate support.
The Wedding Ceremony
The church building is not just another wedding venue like those offered by reception centres. It’s a sacred place of prayer where Christ truly dwells. You probably sense this yourself and it’s one of the reasons why you want to make your vows in this sacred environment.
It also means that there are protocols for the wedding liturgy that aren’t open for negotiation, although we do try to be accommodating where we can. Some things that can’t be changed are the words of the wedding vows, the use of scripture for the readings, and the use of appropriate music. Within this are some options – for example, you can choose which scripture readings and intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful) to include.
Catholic weddings have two formats:
- Wedding Ceremony (without Mass)
- Nuptial Mass (wedding ceremony with Mass).
Both formats include readings from scripture, the marriage rite, prayers of intercession and a nuptial blessing. Generally, if one of you is not Catholic, or you do not attend Sunday Mass regularly, the priest will recommend the Wedding Ceremony (without Mass).
A Wedding Ceremony without Mass may have either a priest or deacon as celebrant. A Nuptial Mass will require your celebrant to be a priest.
SmartLoving Wedding Liturgy Planner
The wedding liturgy is one of the things the parish priest/celebrant will discuss with you as he will want you to think about and pray on the scriptures. You might like to take one scripture each week to discus and reflect on it together. A list of suitable readings can be found in the SmartLoving Wedding Liturgy Planner.
Each parish has its own schedule of fees. Some have an all-inclusive fee and some separate the fees according to venue, preparation course(s), celebrant stipend (A ‘stipend’ is a gift payment, not a professional fee). Some parishes also include a fee for flowers, especially if the church regularly has more than one wedding each weekend.
Keep in mind that these fees reflect only a fraction of the costs of maintaining the church building, completing the administration, conducting the ceremony and preparing a homily. The celebrant will likely spend many hours with you in preparation, as well as the rehearsal and the wedding itself. Usually, fees associated with a Catholic parish church wedding are substantially less than fees charged by secular venues and celebrants.
None-the-less, if the fee is beyond your means, you should discuss your situation with the parish priest. Please, do not let financial constraints deter you! If a Catholic marriage is what you are truly determined to live, it is our joy and desire to make it possible.
After the Wedding
As a community of faith, we want to pray with you and for you during this time, so that when you come to the altar on your wedding day, you are fully aware and confident in the commitment you will make. We also want you to feel supported after the wedding as you establish a family together.
That’s why it’s a great idea to establish regular participation in your local parish community now. Even if one of you is not Catholic, couples who worship together and pray regularly are more likely to have enduring marriages.
To help you set firm foundations for your marriage, we invite you to enroll in SmartLoving Newlywed. Designed as a series of date nite activities, SL Newlywed will introduce you to practical tools and helpful ideas to fortify your love.
Got a question?
Reach out to us in the comments below.
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