Marriage advice and conversion

Hi all, I am here to ask a series of questions relating to my current situation with my Fiance and our upcoming marriage.

I’ll start with myself. I am a 24 yo man living in Australia, I come from a Maltese/English family. The Maltese side (mums side) is Catholic and Dad’s side are Church of England. My mother and father were prepared to be married in the Catholic Church, but as my father was divorced (and this was around 30 years ago, in a less progressive state in my country) they chose to get married in the Church of England. Therefore I was Baptised and Confirmed in the Church of England

My mother was hurt by being rejected by the church at the time, and has never returned since. However her experience did not cause her to lose faith, but to find the next best possible thing at the time.

Now we’ll continue with my Fiance. She is from Poland originally, with her mother’s side being Catholic and her father’s side being Seventh Day Adventist (I don’t understand how there are so many Polish SDA people in Australia?) , and as a result of this she is Adventist (non practicing). Her Adventist family are quite religious and very good people who have never tried to force their faith on me. I have been to their church 2 or 3 times and felt uncomfortable as it was so different. We have been together for 6 and a half years now and we are extremely strong together. I have informed her for the last 5 years that I intend to return to the Catholic Church and that I want to be married in the church. She agreed as it was important to me.

She was baptised in secrecy at a Catholic Church in Poland by her grandparents on her mother’s side. To this day only she and I and her grandparents know this.

Now the dilemma:
Ever since we got engaged, she has been saying that her family would react negatively to a Catholic Church wedding, and that her Father would be upset. I conceded that we could have a civil ceremony, and only I would convert to Catholicism, and was greatly disheartened by the thought.

Only upon talking to my mother did I realise that a piece of paper is not enough for a marriage, that it needs to involve god. My Fiance doesn’t have anything against the Catholic Church, and agrees to bring the children up Catholic. She doesn’t even understand the SDA church, but seems to believe all the things her father (who is no saint) tells her about why the Catholic Church is so evil. she will convert with me - but she doesn’t want to create a rift or hurt her family.

So I’m no theologian, and I need some advice on how I can convince her to revert to our previous agreement. As I said before we love each other very much and are very strong in our relationship, but it seems we are at a stalemate and don’t know how to move forward.

Is there any delicate way of making her family understand? I asked her father for her hand in marriage and he was happy and said nothing about religion to me. Why the big fuss now? He would have known we wouldn’t get married SDA.

I am thinking of going to see a priest this weekend to start my own conversion - How long does this generally take? I have until October 2015 (approx) until we get married.
Is it OK for my Fiance and I to sit in on the mass and wait to talk to the priest after?

I have done a bit of research and I know conversion is a bit of a process, but I’m prepared for it.

Will a priest marry us if only I am Catholic?

Sorry for the long nature of my post here, but I felt that background information was important.

Make an appointment to meet with a priest. They are often busy and in demand before and after mass, so it’s not a great time to try to talk about serious issues. Just call the local parish office and set up a meeting. There are a lot of different issues involved here and he can help you work through them.

One comment I’ll make is this: you are adults. You must make your own choices. Do not let family concerns dictate the way you live your adult lives, especially regarding such serious issues as faith and marriage. Be gentle with them, and always respectful, but equally be firm and determined. If you have the choice between what God wants for you and what your family wants, always choose God.

Thanks for the advice, I haven’t been to church for such a long time. You’re right that it will be better to see the priest at an off-peak time. I’m going to try to find a Polish priest, which might make it easier for her family

Yes, make an appointment to talk to a priest as soon as possible. Explain your situations as you have here. You can attend Mass but should not take Communion until you are Catholic. You are both old enough to make your own life decisions as to what is best for you and your future children. Be tactful but don’t worry unduly about your parents.

You can also both attend RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes to learn what the church teaches with no obligation. Then you will have a better understanding of Catholicism and can get all your questions answered.

It sounds as if her Baptism was valid but illicit (done against Church law). However, it should be recorded and she is still bound by the rules of the Catholic Church.

If her family would be very upset by a Catholic wedding, and you are not Catholic, you do have the option to get a dispensation from the Church to marry outside the Catholic faith. If you get this permission, your marriage will be valid from a Catholic perspective.

If your fiancee was validly baptized in a catholic Church she is a catholic and bound by Canon Law. According to Canon Law, she must either marry in the Church or receive dispensation to marry elsewhere in order to have a religiously valid marriage.

My opinion?

It’s you and your fiance’s wedding and not her parent’s wedding.

She is Catholic and therefore bound by cannon law to marry within the Church. If you don’t, your marriage would be invalid.

If it were me and my parents were making a big deal out of it, I’d say tough. It’s my wedding and not yours. Don’t come if you don’t agree. But you need to set up boundaries that are seperate from them from the beginning.

Your wedding, your decisions and your choice on who to marry, where to marry and when to marry.

Everyone else can just zip it. Tell your fiance this. She needs to understand that this is her day and not her parents day and if she needs a Catholic wedding, she should have no problem having one.

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