What was missing in my wedding outside the Church?


I realize there are a lot of questions here about convalidation of marriages performed outside the Church and whether or not one can receive communion prior to convalidation and I have read many of them.

I still wanted to ask about our situation.

My husband and I were both raised in the Church, baptized and confirmed Catholic. We both were non-practicing for many years. When we married, we were married in a non-denominational church by a non-denominational minister.

I recently returned to the Church (after a 20-year absence) and made a full confession. I received communion the next day.

Several days later, I discovered the concept that my marriage is not “valid” in the Church. To my dismay, I learned I shouldn’t receive communion.

My husband does not desire to return to practicing the Faith at this time, but is fully supportive of me. The validity of our marriage is confusing to both of us as we don’t know what our ceremony was “missing.” My husband is quite upset that the Church would not recognize our marriage and I’m disappointed to have this roadblock placed before me after going through the agony of getting myself back to the Church in the first place! I have made an appointment with our parish priest to discuss convalidation, but it’s not until April.

In the meantime, if we do not have marital relations, may I continue to receive communion or do I have to wait?




Dear F,

Your ceremony was lacking the authority of the Catholic Church. That’s what was missing. If you wanted to become a Canadian citizen and went to a US federal official who signed a document which confirmed you as a Canadian citizen, you still would not actually be a Canadian citizen because US federal officials do not have the authority to do such a thing. On their own, non-Catholic clergy do not have the authority to witness marriages between Catholics.

Your husband may be upset that the Catholic Church does not recognize your marriage, but it is not the Catholic Church’s fault that you chose to be married outside of it.

In the meantime you may, by all means, go to Confession and receive Holy Communion if you are not having marital relations. You both are in my prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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