Convalidation/marriage prep - anyone been thru the process?

Hello - I’ve been in touch with my parish priest, who told me to get in touch with a deacon, regarding marriage preparation. My (civil) husband and I have been legally married since March 2001. I’m returning to the practice of my Catholic faith, he is not.

Anyhow, I left a phone message for the deacon last Monday, with no response. So I emailed a (polite) follow up today.

I’m curious for those who have had their marriage convalidated - what kind of preparation process did you undergo? I’m worried because we have a baby due around Christmas time, and she will be exclusively breastfed. So, I will not be able to leave her with anyone for lengthy marriage prep classes. If I can bring her with me, then there won’t be any problem. I could try getting her to take an occasional bottle of expressed milk (after breastfeeding is established, of course) but 2 of my 3 girls would not take a bottle at all - even though I was working and/or in school at the time.

I really don’t want the convalidation to be delayed for any longer than absolutely necessary. The thought of having to wait until the baby is old enough to eat other foods/drink from a cup is kind of depressing!

Thanks in advance.

in this diocese, it depends on how long you have been together, and whether or not you have children, as the preparation is geared to your needs. there are several weekend or one-day conferences
engaged encounter – engaged, never married, no kids
re-marriage encounter – those marrying after divorce/annulment, with kids forming blended family
convalidation conference (one-day) there is one for those together less than 3 years, no kids
and another one for those with children or those together longer
common law/civil marriage are treated the same

the all cover the same ground but slanted to needs and experience of couples: finances, children, Church law on marriage, communication, NFP similar issues.

that is the diocesan portion

the parish portion is similar to prep for engaged couples, but your sponsor couple has been especially trained to address situations such as yours. the time period is also be shorter since the goal is to bring you into union with the Church and back to the sacraments as soon as possible. Therefore there will also be individual counselling sessions with the priest, and also of course opportunity for confession before the marriage. Ceremony will be planned to suit your situation and wishes as well.

also addressed when you meet the deacon will be other sacramental issues, if either needs confirmation and first communion, for instance, so that you can be prepared at the same time, and receive those sacraments as soon as your marriage is convalidated.

our deacons is extremely accommodating to personal, work and family schedules.

Thanks for replying. We’re meeting with the deacon on 11/30, so hopefully he can explain the process to us in detail. I know the Church doesn’t (and shouldn’t) allow people to marry haphazardly without a full understanding of the sacrament, it’s just that now that I’m coming back to the Church I want to ‘regularize’ our situation as soon as possible. After seven years of civil marriage and three kids together (four total; my oldest is dd’s stepdaughter though I was never previously married, civilly or otherwise), going through a process designed for engaged couples seems a little redundant.

I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes… Prayers would be greatly appreciated.

After a renewal of faith…We had our marriage convalidated after ten years (J.P. style) and three kids (now four) later. All we had to do was meet with our parish priest once so he could take down info. He obviously knew we were committed. We didn’t have to go thru any marriage prep. Just the one meeting. It was a little weird when Fr. kept referring to me as the “bride”. He was happy to see us come to him. I am sure your deacon will be the same way.
I don’t know what your deacon will have you do…but know that anything that is required by him is so worth when you exchange your vows in the Church…it is beyond words when you receive that sacrament. I am also sure that your deacon will be more than happy to accommodate you. God Bless…you are in my prayers.

Are you able to take part in the Eucharist while you have only a civil union?

No, you must have your civil marriage convalidated in the church first before you can celebrate either the sacrament of Reconciliation or Holy Eucharist.

This is what I thought, but a couple in our RCIA have a civil union, been living together for 3yrs and have a child and I see them take the Eucharist. I truly don’t think that they know.
Can you show me where this guideline is in the Catechism?

This is the best I can find in the catechism:

1630 The priest (or deacon) who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. The presence of the Church’s minister (and also of the witnesses) visibly expresses the fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.

1631 This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement:132

  • Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church;
  • Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children;
  • Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses);
  • The public character of the consent protects the “I do” once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.

They probably don’t know, assume they don’t, because if they do know, then they’re committing sacrilege by receiving Holy Eucharist. What they probably don’t understand is that the church doesn’t know that they are married, so basically their marriage does not exist. Marriage is a sacrament in the church just as Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation are. Before you marry in the church, you should have all three of these sacraments done first. They’re basically just living together as far as they’ve told the church.

If you have ideas about approaching them on the subject, be very gentle. You will effectually be taking Jesus away from them for a time until they normalize their marriage with the church. All they have to do is go to their priest, and then he writes to the bishop to get permission to marry them, but this can take some time depending on how busy everyone is. They’ll have to abstain from Holy Eucharist during this time. That does not set well with a lot of people. Also, if either of them had a prior marriage, even if it was only a civil marriage, that prior marriage will have to go through the tribunal. It can be a very very lengthy process depending on the individual circumstances. Pray for them a lot!

You say they’re in RCIA? Are they even Catholic? If not, then they certainly should not be receiving communion since they are not yet fully a part of the community. If this is the case, you might want to mention to your priest of the issue and hopefully he will speak with the RCIA instructor and have the obligations toward the Holy Eucharist explained to all the RCIA candidates.

We did have our marriage blessed and my DH did his First Communion also. A month later we both were confirmed it was the best thing we did for our marriage. Hopefully your DH will convert.

DH and I have been civilly married for 11 years and have two children. My DH was going through RCIA. We had to meet with the priest once and complete paperwork. Otherwise, I went to confession and our marriage was convalidated after the Easter vigil when DH came into the Church.

I am civillay married myself for 10 years and would like like to convalidate. What was the ceremony like? I really dont want any pomp and circumstance.

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