I feel locked out of the sacrament of marriage

The absolute tl;dr. 4 years ago I (Catholic, 30) am a coworker and roommate of a Catholic woman (27). We are both Church-every-Sunday-and-Holy-Day people. I was an alter boy; mother ran the CCD program at our local parish. We are very connected to our home parish communities.

3 years ago, we realize we want to date, so we move home with our parents’. 2 years ago while traveling we are offered an amazing opportunity the requires us to move 750 miles away. We do not share a bed, but we are all we know of this new area, and get a 2-bedroom apartment so we will be in safe company, but still have walls between us. We do well. She is promoted to management and has restrictive hours. We earn enough for me to open a business, even more restrictive hours.

We’re in a coastal community. Only 3 local parishes. We try one for a while, but services are not reverent seemingly in an effort to accommodate vacationers. Second parish is much the same. Third parish is just right, but within two months, we receive our business license. We are not registered there. I am the sole employee, 7 days/week, 6AM-7PM, and up to midnight on nights we host events. She is here to help in mornings, then off to work until 11PM-12AM, when I wake and we have dinner together, catch a small rest, and repeat. We will have to continue this routine for at least 9 months because of the tourism cycle, after which we will reduce our hours at both jobs, I will have at least one year-round employee (almost everyone is seasonal here), and begin to live a more traditional lifestyle. Eventually the goal is my business supports us; she can stay home and raise our family - a lofty goal these days for someone of my generation, but much better for the health of our children and family.

We are now engaged, and as I am in my 30s, not keen to wait long before marriage. I understand 1 year of Pre-cana, would do willingly. However, it’s 9 mo’s until I can regularly attend masses. The local parishes require at least 6 months of regular, charted attendance before Pre-cana can begin. Then 12 months of Pre-cana. Then planning and executing a wedding.

For those counting, that’s at least 27 months until I can be wed if I wish to do so in the Catholic tradition. I do so wish, but I also do not wish to wait for over two years to be wed. I am dangerously close to choosing a secular ceremony and trusting in God to know our hearts and intention, to see that we sacrifice everything for one another, love each other as ourselves and Him above all, and fully intend to live a Christian life.

But I have not been met with priests willing to discuss my particulars. Their general sentiment is “if you don’t have time for the classes, you don’t have time for the marriage.” The time we make is during work, or during hours no priest would be able to sit. Perhaps I missed the one priest willing to counsel at 1 AM, but I don’t believe he exists.

I will answer questions if you have any, but this is the most informative I can be in the allotted character limit. Does anybody have ideas for how to complete this given our circumstances?

Check with your diocese about whether pre-Cana can be done in a shorter time frame. My husband and I attended a one-weekend Engaged Encounter workshop to complete ours.

Since you live in a coastal community with many seasonal residents, the time lines may be meant to screen out “destination weddings” and those of short term residents. Do make sure, however, that you and your wife register and start attending Mass every Sunday at the Parish you want to be married in. If that means you take an hour off and close the store or get her to come in and sit for that hour and then you do the same for her, just do it and put an envelope or note in the basket so your attendance is tracked.

It also might be possible for you to arrange a wedding back in your home town where the priest knows you and your family, but you would likely have to show proof that you were a practicing Catholic parishioner where you are living, so that’s another reason for the Mass attendance.


Wow, do you live in Naples Florida too? Your story sounds similar to mine and I’m having much the same problems :cold_sweat:

South Carolina haha, not too far off. Sorry to hear :confused:

I have seen about online courses, but I hadn’t read anything about an Engaged Encounter. I will certainly be looking into it as hard as I can. And you’re absolutely right about needing to accept the additional strain and get to Mass. It’s possible that we could make it work, but being in food service, she’s home extraordinarily late on Saturdays, and I am up extraordinarily early on Sundays. So it’s very difficult to make sure one of us can be there during these times; but, I suppose out of everything in front of me, this is the easiest problem to figure out. Thank you for your input.

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1.) i commend you for waiting for relations until married.
2.) I am concerned that you are not making mass every Sunday (unless I misunderstood you)
3.) I’m concerned about the rigidity of the priests requiring some canned class that from what I’ve experienced and read about, is useless.

I guess I would be more concerned if I was the priest that you aren’t making it to mass every Sunday than the precana classes.

I’m not really sure what to suggest except to keep speaking with the priests

Once you start saying you don’t have time for mass, you never have time for mass.

You should make time in your business schedule for mass. Don’t say can’t— you CAN but are choosing not to. All the rest of it— doing it so she can stay home some day in the future— is just noise and rationalizing. Put God first. Period. The rest will follow.

Don’t blame the church that the two of you didn’t make choices with the faith in the center of the decision making.


I wonder what my wife and I would have done if the Church had enforced a rule of that kind about weddings, in the place and at the time when we were married. I had left my old job and had negotiated a one-month vacation before starting on my new job, which involved a move to a different country. There was no problem with the Church at the time, it just required a visit to the diocesan offices to get some papers signed. The wedding was arranged, and took place, from start to finish, in the space of a week or two.

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Have any of you guys in these situations ever invited a priest over for diner and tried to establish a relationship where a priest knows your situation and can guide you?

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Like I said above, I suspect this residency requirement is a bigger issue with certain parishes located in areas that attract many tourists and seasonal residents.

The rule for weddings at the parishes I’ve been in is usually “call the Parish Office 6 months in advance”. Of course, the unwritten rule is that if the priest and admins see that you’ve been attending Mass weekly, either by knowing your face or your family, or by having a record of envelopes dropped in the basket, you get a lot fewer questions. I personally made sure I went very regularly to my parish and dropped in envelopes for several months before calling up the priest.

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We had a new priest over for dinner to get to know him.

Not to establish any kind of relationship, but to welcome him to our parish.

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day, God rested.

Rest is an important part of our faith. The Torah dictates that all be given a day of rest. There is a purpose to it beyond the commandment of God.

“We are all we know of this new area.” Church is s good place to meet people. You will see them without having long drawn out conversations (unless you want them.) You will come to feel like less of a stranger in the town.

Working all day every day can be dangerous to your health. You need more time for yourself or you will burn out.

I have no idea what your business is, but can’t you open an hour or two later on Sunday mornings? It is not the full day God took, but it will give you time to carve out an identity separate from your business. It might be a good thing for you.


Yes, I agree with this. What kind of life/marriage will you have if it consists of working all the time? If you own your own business, change your hours, if you work for someone else, you need to have a discussion.


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