Welcome! We’ll be glad to see you again. I hope your parish is helpful in building you up in Christ. If they are not, find another parish nearby that is more helpful. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a horrible 2 and 1/2 years and I pray you will find peace joy and blessing going forward.
I wish I could say that all Catholics were tolerant, open-minded and non-judgemental, but we are a church of sinners and some may feel they have a right to look down upon you, which is unfair. In our parish, we have openly gay members, reformed drug users, and divorcees, all of whom are welcomed lovingly and none of whom are seen as a pariah. I’ve heard our priest chastise members who disparage those who are openly gay - reminding them that the Church is hospital for sinners, and that we all belong there. So if you are looked down upon, it will be by a few and they have no right to do so. You are welcome here, sister.
Absolutely! I think most parishes only ask that you be registered members. Usually there’s a wait for weddings (to give couples time to discern) but not for baptisms. Since you’ve been away for 5 years, they may ask that you sit in on a class (should be free of charge) on what baptism means and what is expected of Catholic parents. This will also help you meet other church members.
Remember that all children are created in the image of God Himself, and so their ability to be baptized has nothing to do with whether the parents are married. If anyone in authority disparages you for this or tries to prevent the baptism, please contact the office of the bishop or archbishop.
Oh, this is wonderful news! I’m very happy to hear this and hope you have the wedding day you’re wanting.
Marriage is taken very seriously and so there is a longer process that includes counseling called Pre Cana. This needs to be administered through your local parish but I think there is some leeway on where exactly the counseling is done. If you live near the St. Louis, Mo., area, I can recommend a good Pre Cana program that we felt very good about (not that there are bad ones), and if you’ve had a few difficult years recently you may benefit from some counseling to help you move beyond the difficulties you’ve faced and enter married life refreshed.
If either of you were married previously - whether civil or religious - you will need to get an annulment for the previous marriage. This is a lengthier process but it is to ensure that you both are eligible to marry.
If you are in my area, please contact me and I’ll offer whatever help I can. Again, welcome home!