Big question on conversion

Hi everyone,

I have had a very long and frustrating journey through Christianity that started with me being an atheist years ago, but I came to find faith through hardship - that hardship of mine just so happened to be divorce. Since then I have explored a great many churches and denominations, and while I am a believer, I always found them to be lacking in one way or another, but that is another topic.

I know that it is often possible to be granted an anullment by the church, but what if I have no idea how to contact the other party to assist the church in the investigation of the marriage?

A few details: She was raised Catholic up until the age of 7 or 8 and had not attended since. We both considered ourselves atheists and made it a point to have a secular wedding and neither of us wanted children. All of this went about as well as you would expect and it ended with her having an affair and leaving to go live on the opposite coast of the United States with the man that she was having an affair with. I have had no contact with her since the divorce (6 years) and would not even know how to begin to contact her if the church wanted to speak to both parties for the anullment process.

I have been drawn to and studied about the Catholic Church for a year now because of the void that I saw in non-denominational churches, and most recently the episcopal church. Would there be any conceivable way to have an anullment granted if I do not know how to contact old friends or her side of the family from that time in my life?

I don’t know about contacting her but it looks like a lack of form annulment to me. Are any of her family local or at least contactable?

Would you have any proof that she was raised Catholic.

Were ypu ever baptised?

Speak to your priest.

This. Could you elaborate on age you both were, and what made you both decide this and why?

Hi there,

I am so sorry to here of the suffering that you are experiencing. God calls many of us back to Him through hardship, in that you are not alone. In one priest’s homily I heard this year, he was talking about how sometimes we are stripped of something dear to us, though God never causes suffering, He uses these instances to ask us to trust in Him and depend on Him. My priest used the example of homelessness, but my experience was the death of my father when I was young, and again when I was battling the effects of long-term abuse and depression. In those experiences, when we are stripped by circumstance into a life we don’t recognize, we are more able to receive and know our God, because we desire that love that always provides and is constant no matter what our lot. He so desperately thirsts for us to rely on Him, to give Him our hearts to be loved. Our greatest gift to Him is receiving the love that He gives in the way that we alone can receive it. (See Seek Conference, Sr. Bethany Madonna) In accepting and committing to a personal relationship with Him, that centres us. In the pain of loss, we are more keenly aware of that deep longing to be loved, and to be loved perfectly, as only God can. To be fulfilled as only God can. I’m praying for you to be comforted this Holy Week.

As for the annulment, you were not married in the Catholic Church, and therefore my understanding is that you do not need an annulment. If you found yourself called to be baptized into the Catholic Church, you would most-likely receive Confession and Communion all around the same time. If you feel you need to be healed and unburdened from some form of sin in your past marriage, if something is bothering you, this first confession would do just that.

The void you’re feeling in non-Catholic Churches is probably because you can sense the real presence of Christ in the tabernacle of the Catholic churches you’ve been to. - This was true of a girl I knew who also converted to the faith and was baptized at Easter. Most Protestant Churches see the Eucharist as a symbol of Christ’s Body and Blood, rather than the real presence of Christ. In the Catholic Church at every mass, the bread and wine is consecrated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The leftover Eucharist, of which there always is made sure to be, is put in the tabernacle, that Christ’s real presence, contained in the host, is always in the church. (At anytime, you can go and pray before the tabernacle. Some Churches even have perpetual Adoration in which the Eucharist is exposed on the alter.) I hope this is helpful :slight_smile:

Peace of Christ,

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Incorrect. An annulment will be needed but seeing as he was married to a baptized Catholic without a dispensation it should be a straightforward process.


This is not any kind of a bar to conversion. Please speak to a Catholic pastor. He can answer your questions.

thank you for correcting me! Ahh potential heresy. I will read more before I speak about something I’m unsure of next time

There are two possible avenues here.

First is lack of canonical form since she was baptized Catholic. For that, you would need your marriage and divorce paperwork, plus her baptismal records. If you know or can find out what church she was baptized in your pastor or diocesan office can request her sacramental records from that parish and it should proceed fairly quickly. If she was from a small town or area where there were only a few churches, this may be fairly easy. If she was from a large city or you don’t know much about her childhood background, it may be more difficult to obtain her sacramental records. I am not sure if an affidavit would suffice in this situation.

If you cannot pursue lack of form, you can pursue a full declaration of nullity. You don’t have to know where she is, you just have to make a good faith effort to give contact information to the tribunal, such as last known address, etc. If they cannot find her, the process can still proceed without her. The respondent has the right to participate, but if they refuse or cannot be located, the case can still move forward.

First step, talk to your local pastor. Divorce is not an impediment to entering the Church. You do need to understand that without being declared free to marry-- which involves examination and disposition of your first marriage— you aren’t free to marry anyone going forward.

Best wishes on your continued journey to the Church. This will all work out. Make an appointment after Easter to talk to your pastor about your situation.


No local family of hers whatsoever. Mother deceased, father is much older and in extremely poor health the last time I saw him (6 years prior), so he may not be with us anymore, and her brother is in the navy so there is no telling where he is. I believe that I may be able to prove that she was raised Catholic through her parish, and no, I was never baptised.

I will be contacting a priest soon.

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You may be able to apply for Petrine/Pauline privilege then.

You’d need to prove that she was baptized Catholic but it may be possible. If you know where the tribunal/your parish may be able to access her records.

Ah yes, you not being baptized when married may make the process go smoother.

God bless

I had just turned 22 and she was 23 upon marriage. And we never wanted children because at the time we had no problem being selfish and admitting that it was because they were inconvenient, loud, expensive, etc.

Obviously those feelings have changed in the years that have passed.

You may want to table this discussion until you’ve done that. A lot of people come into this process expecting the annulment process to be more complicated than it is, then find out that their own circumstances make it rather straightforward once they’ve spoken to a priest.

Also - welcome home!


Thanks very much for the candidness. It seems to me your marriage was just a convenience for your then wife, until something else came along. It is harsh. But I wish you well in your forward journey my friend.

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