Can you help with a marriage and a mentally retarded child?

I am embarrassed to ask this question. I hope you can help me. I am a practicing Catholic, my husband is not Catholic. We have been married for 6 years. This is a 4th marriage for each of us. We finally got it right! Of all my marriages, one was in the Catholic Church. I want to have our marriage blessed by the Catholic Church so that I can be a full member. Is this a possibility, and what do I need to do? Contacting the previous spouses for either of us for an anullment is out of the question. We have no idea where they are.

A second question I have is my husband and I adopted a little girl three years ago. She has been baptised in the Catholic Church. She is now 6 years old, and she has autism and mental retardation. Can a child receive their First Communiion if they do not understand? Can they ever receive the sacraments?

I would greatly appreciate any answers you can provide me. I know I have given you a very complicated case. Thank you for your help. Bless you.


No need to be embarrassed because you are a sinner. We all are! You need to see your priest about getting your marriages annulled. The ones that were outside the Catholic Church should be easy enough. That you cannot contact the spouse from your Catholic marriage does not mean that you cannot get it annulled. What is necessary is that there be witnesses who can vouch for the appropriateness of the wedding. Your husband will need annulments as well. It may be possible to get the annulments needed. See your priest.

I commend you for adopting a handicapped child. Some mentally retarded children are able to make their first Holy Communion at an age later than is usual. A lot depends on how much they are able to understand. Your diocese should have such a program.

I am asking all who read this to keep these matters in their prayers—as will I.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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