Heartbroken /Desperate re: Marriage Advocate Long post

I’m heartbroken. A little background for clarity: I’ve attended my local parrish for two years as well as RCIA both years. I’ve been married 30 years, however was previously married and divorced 37 years ago; so an annulment is required.

Oct 2007 Literally had to chase down the parrish marriage Advocate regarding annulment paperwork. I was hopeful that an annulment would be granted and I could be part of the church. It was not to be. The Advocate scared me right out of applying. One reason being that this marriage occured 37 years ago and I couldn’t come up with witnesses. I’m almost 60 so it has been awhile and many witnesses have passed on. Both sets of parents from that marriage are deceased as well as aunts, uncles and other little known relatives whereabouts are unknown. Only my ex’s brother is still alive, I have no siblings. I moved and didn’t keep in touch with or know the whereabout of friends and co-workers from that time in my life. My Advocate assured me that I would not receive an annulment without those witnesses. So I continued going to RCIA and attending Mass. But I knew that I wanted to fully participate in the Mass and become a Catholic.

So in Nov 2008 after a lot of searching I found a friend from that period of my life who knew a lot about my marriage. So I submitted the annulment paperwork to the parrish Advocate. He asked that I mail it to his home and so I did. Well… In Jan 2009 my check to the Diocese hadn’t cleared the bank; so I called my Advocate. Nope didn’t receive it. So I quickly regrouped and resubmitted everything to the Advocate. Handed it to him this time.

Fast forward to February almost March 2009 and I’ve heard nothing from my Advocate. I call to see if everything was submitted to the diocese. Well…No, he said my baptismal certificate needed certification ??? No one had heard of a baptismal certificate that states I was baptised in the trinitarian manner needing certification. Also my legal documents needed to be issued within the last 30 days. So I secured those again and resubmitted.

The Advocate still wasn’t satisfied with the baptismal record and kept asking “what do you want me to do?” The diocese would never grant an annulment with insufficient documentation. Of course the fact that I only had two witnesses wasn’t good either. I literally wept with despair.

Last night at the cathecumate ceremony I find out that two others have had the same problems (baptismal certificates/ no witnesses from long ago marriages), Both people submitted their annulment paperwork around eight months ago and have had a very difficult time dealing with the Advocate. Going to my priest is not an option as this is his first church and would likely not know the answer to this problem. He didn’t know we had an Advocate in the beginning so I know he’d be lost regarding this matter.

I feel as if I’m in a battle trying to become a part of the CC. Does anyone know what I (we) could do regarding these problems. BTW I finally told my Advocate that I would be re-baptised to just ignore my baptismal certificate which breaks my heart but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to move this along.

Still…I can’t get an answer whether he has even submitted my petition yet.

Any help would be appreciated.

Without getting into specifics, your best bet would be to call the tribunal at the diocese and see if you can submit the paperwork directly. It seems that the advocate is not acting in your interests. You have a right to have your case heard.

Deacon Ed

Call the Tribunal and/or Judicial Vicar of your diocese and discuss your issue with them. You can find these numbers on your diocesan website or just call the main number and ask for the Judicial Vicar.

Also, the St. Joseph foundation assists Catholics who need help with their rights under Canon Law. As a Candidate, this means you.


Call the Tribunal directly something is not correct. A Baptismal certificate should not be holding up an annulment case.

You are in my prayers. Jesus loves you!!

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Rom 12:12

Do not be discouraged because of a bureaucratic delay, we all have to focus on eternity in heaven with Jesus and to minimize the annoying trials each day brings.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


To explain usually the Baptismal certificate does need to be certified (have the seal of the parish on it) and be not older than a year after issuance. You can contact the diocese tribunal directly and explain the difficulty you are having with the “Advocate”.

Talk to your pastor asap. Tell him what you’ve related here. Tell him that if the baptismal certificate you submitted cannot be accepted, that you insist that he administer a "conditional Baptism "rite: ‘‘If you are not baptised, I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’’

Sometimes, if RCIA candidates cannot find official documentation of their Baptisms, the Church will accept a sworn statement from an eye witness. Your advocate should have given you the affidavit form. If that verification isn’t possible, then a conditional Baptism can be done.

I’m sorry the advocate hasn’t truly been an advocate. Shame on him for just sitting on the documents. Don’t presume the new pastor doesn’t know anything, however; at the least, he needs to learn that this is happening in his parish.

If you are already baptized, rather than being called a “catechumen” you should be called a “candidate for full communion with the Catholic Church.”

Please get that “conditional Baptism” asap.

Thank all of you for replying to my post. I heard from my Advocate via email. He has finally sent the paperwork in but was upset that apparently Father advised him that the baptismal certificate was adequate.

Here’s the new problem, he says that he has never seen an annulment granted when only 2 or 3 witnesses can be produced. My relatives that were knowledgeable regarding my previous marriage are deceased. It’s been 37 years ! I have three cousins; I have had zero contact with in 37 years. He feels they can be witnesses?

I’m sure that calling the Diocese will be the best answer but I would like to have some input from the Forum regarding problems such as lack of witnesses.

I’m also under the gun as I have a very serious medical problem for which nothing can be done. I haven’t revealed this to my adocate or anyone at church except my RCIA advisor; but asked her not to let it be known. Those who have asked about my use of a triopod-cane I just respond that it’s due to my MS not an inoperable condition. I do not want anyone to pity me; period. I however do want to be a Catholic before it’s too late.

Call the Tribunal today.

In the Ozarks, you are in the Diocese Springfield/Cape?

Tribunal contacts are listed here:


They are great people to work with.

I’ve sent through annulments with only 1 witness and gotten it approved. If your cousins knew you and your ex at the time of the marriage they might be acceptable witnesses – but you’d need to contact them and see if they are willing to respond and if they remember what was going on then.

I’m also under the gun as I have a very serious medical problem for which nothing can be done. I haven’t revealed this to my adocate or anyone at church except my RCIA advisor; but asked her not to let it be known. Those who have asked about my use of a triopod-cane I just respond that it’s due to my MS not an inoperable condition. I do not want anyone to pity me; period. I however do want to be a Catholic before it’s too late.

This is something that needs to be mentioned to the tribunal – they can work with that in mind.

Deacon Ed

For one thing, my experience with seemingly difficult advocates is that going directly to the tribunal and telling them all you can about your situation, is helpful. Remember, He is directing this and may be delaying your annulment for reasons that only He knows. There were numerous frustrating delays with mine that turned out to be a healing period for me (and only He knows what else).
Regarding your serious medical condition, I will pray for you (as I’m sure all on this thread do also). Commend yourself to our mother, the BVM, and trust in Our Lord! Remember, He is not limited as we are. Your desire to be a fully practicing Catholic is so much more than some actual presently “practicing” Catholics. You do not sound lukewarm at all. Praise Him!

It may help you to read about the Divine Mercy.

Thank you for responding. I’m in the Little Rock Diocese. After receiving the information from all of you; I was able to secure a face-to-face with my advocate today. So if this meeting (my first face-to-face) I will call the Diocese. I know my Bishop knows of my situation for he gave permission for my grandson to be baptised at the Easter Vigil.

God Bless

I think your priest (and for that matter the Diocese Tribunal) need to know the extent of your problems. I would write them down just as you have told us. Also the fact that two other people had the same difficulties indicates to me that this person probably is not the one that needs to be the “Advocate” and you may be doing your Priest and the Diocese a favor by being the one to come forward with information. Good luck and God bless.

Great Diocese :slight_smile:

I am also in the Little Rock Diocese, feel free to PM me. I’ve a friend who is an advocate here in our Diocese. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the prayers for they are an awesome force ! I’ve accepted God’s will regarding my medical condition. I truly live in the now; each moment is precious to me.

My advocate agreed to meet face-to-face with me on Wednesday. Told him I would be at Adoration Wednesday morning and he agreed to take a few minutes to discuss the annulment. We all know that God works in mysterious ways but I wasn’t prepared for what occured then or again today !!

I had been in the nave probably an hour when I realized that he had arrived. Shortly thereafter we entered a small room off the sacristy to discuss my case. He seemed kind of nervous but I thought it was just me ! Then he started wipping tears…and explained he never attends adoration, but did so because I had told him that’s where I would be. He said when he entered there were four people, myself and three elderly ladies. He further explained a feeling of guilt overcame him; for there were these ladies; devoted life-long catholics and a not-yet-catholic in silent adoration. It was “a wake-up-call for lukewarm “ways””, he explained. He said my desire to be a part of the church and my devotion while not yet a catholic was humbling.

Personally I know it was God who gave him the wake-up; not me. While reading your post today it was I who was awe-struck for your words were almost identical to those he spoke to me.

Your desire to be a fully practicing Catholic is so much more than some actual presently “practicing” Catholics


Again, thank you for your prayers.

Again, thank you for your prayers.

And a good reminder for me that…“you never know what people are struggling with.”

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