“We want to get married. What is the first step?”
- Call the parish office to set up a meeting — before you set a date.
- Notify your pastor at least 6 months in advance of the anticipated wedding date.
- There is a lot of paperwork to be completed and legwork to be done. It can be a painless trek if you understand the requirements of the Catholic Church, as well as those of your pastor and parish.
Unlike the common, everyday civil marriage, the aspect of covenant and sacrament will play a key role. A covenant is a serious and permanent commitment, and there are programs in place to help you and your intended spouse begin to learn about “what it takes” to be married. Meetings with your pastor are required to discuss the various aspects of your wedding ceremony.
Requirements & Programs
There are several basic requirements for Catholics wishing to be married in the Diocese of Greensburg.
- Age: Of enough emotional maturity that enables one to grasp the meaning of conjugal covenant and to accept that covenant as permanent; usually 18 years or older – special provisions are necessary for persons under 18.
- Freedom to marry: An internal free choice of will with no sense of fear or threat of force present; no previous valid union that would be recognized by the church; and no canonical impediments such as Holy Orders, etc.
- Due discretion: A discernment of judgment proportional to the importance of the conjugal covenant; knowing what one is doing and being capable of doing it.
- Knowledge and ability to form a community of love/life: You understand yourself enough that you are aware of and understand most of your thoughts, needs, feelings, hopes, passions, dreams, fears, etc.; understand your partner enough that you recognize his or her family, history, assets, liabilities, feelings, etc.
- Openness to children: Committed to responsible parenthood and working in partnership with God to raise loving, responsible and faith-filled children.
Marriage preparation programs are the way in which the Catholic Church helps you learn about the life you are about to enter as a married couple. The wedding is a day, and marriage is for the rest of your life. Accordingly, the following programs exist to provide you with a foundation about marriage.
Engaged couples seeking marriage in the Diocese of Greensburg are expected to complete marriage preparation in one of three ways:
- Mentor Couple: Also referred to as the Sponsor Couple program, this program serves as the primary program in the Diocese of Greensburg. It is offered for engaged couples who wish to meet in private with a trained parish couple. The sessions cover issues encountered in the day-to-day living of married life. The engaged couple meets in the mentor couple’s home for a series of four, informal two-hour sessions. These are very relaxed meetings, and there is no cost. The sessions are scheduled at times convenient to both couples.
- Catholic Engaged Encounter: This is a weekend program run by the independent national organization, Engaged Encounter. Engaged couples attend and room at a retreat center from Friday evening through Sunday morning. There is a fee to cover the cost of room and board. A series of sessions are held in large groups, with married couples making presentations that address particular circumstances of married life. Details are located at www.engagedencounter.org or view the diocesan brochure.
- Evenings for the Engaged: A program where parishes in the Diocese of Greensburg have their own private, large group sessions, exclusively for their parishioners. A team of married couples presents topics similar to the way in which they are presented at the Engaged Encounter weekend. The engaged couples have the opportunity to dialog with one another about the topics. The cost, as well as the number of topics and length of time devoted to these sessions, varies by parish. Only a few parishes in the diocese offer this program.
“Do we have to do this?” The short answer is “yes.”
- Seriously think about what you are about to do.
- Marriages fail, in part, because of unanticipated and unfulfilled expectations.
- Think about all the planning that is involved for a one-day wedding.
- Now compare that to the planning for decades of married life to which you are committing yourself.
Simply having a good relationship with your partner at the present time is not going to be enough. You both will need to change to grow into the role of husband and wife. Understanding this upcoming relationship, and discussing your thoughts and plans with each other, is essential for a successful marriage. It is also important to know God’s plan for you together, and to learn about true love. With Christ at the center of your marriage, like a braided cord, Jesus, you and your fiancé will be a strong source of true love.
Marriage Encounter is designed to give married couples the opportunity to examine their lives together. The emphasis of marriage encounter is on communication between husband and wife, who spend a weekend together away from the distractions and tensions of everyday life to concentrate on each other. It is not a retreat, nor a marriage clinic. Instead, marriage encounter is a unique approach aimed at revitalizing Christian marriages.
If you are interested, wish to learn more or want to register for a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend, contact 1-800-795-LOVE or complete the form and mail to the attention of Lou and Mary Locante, 105 Snowden Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15229.
The diocese offers five programs that enrich good marriages, as well as train others at the parish level to present these sessions.
- The Five Love Languages: This session allows couples to learn their love language; how you and your spouse feel loved.
- The Lord and the Dance: Learn ballroom dancing and how a dancing relationship is like a marriage relationship.
- Fireproof: This action-packed love story is a natural ministry tool that demonstrates how love and respect are essential to make any marriage fireproof.
- REFOCCUS: Like the pre-marriage inventory, REFOCCUS is for those couples already married who need to identify their common interests and expectations.
- Empty Nesters: Have your children left home? What’s the next step? Learn how to deal with being just a couple again after years of having children around all the time.
Helping Troubled Marriages
All marriages run into difficulties from time to time. Like anything else, good maintenance is required. Occasionally attending a marriage retreat will allow you to improve your covenant relationship with your spouse, and perhaps avoid serious issues later.
Retrouvaille | A Christian Peer Ministry
There is hope for reviving a troubled relationship, especially when it’s hanging by a thread. One of the best programs is “Retrouvaille” (pronounced ret-trov-eye). Retrouvaille is a French word meaning “rediscovery.” If your marriage is tearing the two of you apart, or if there is little or no communication, or if you are considering separation or divorce, we believe Retrouvaille can help.
Retrouvaille is a weekend presented by couples who have experienced the same difficulties in their own relationships. It is not a spiritual retreat, sensitivity group, counseling session or seminar. You will not be asked to share your problems with anyone else, but rather encouraged to put the past behind you and look beyond the hurt and pain so that you may rediscover each other in a new and positive way.
For more details, please contact Rich and Marianne Mader at 412-462-0523.
There are times, however, when issues and pressures become so great that they affect the communication of love and respect that was once the hallmark of a loving relationship. All relationships take work, and in differing amounts at different times. Without the necessary care and attention, marriages can wither and couples can slowly and quietly drift apart. Sometimes, too, the rift is so large that it seems as if the marriage is hopelessly lost.
For more information on how to help a troubled marriage, please contact Catholic Charities.