When can marriage be recognized in the Church?


My husband and I were married in a civil ceremony seven years ago. Since then we have been taking the steps to become Catholic. At what point will we need to get married in the Church so our marriage is recognized? After we are fully recieved into the Church or before? I ask only because I’ve heard different views on this. We also have two children who were baptized Catholic.


What did the priest at your parish say? Are you in RCIA? Just wondering if you have received any answers from your own parish yet?


If neither of you was a Catholic at the time of your marriage, you do not have any steps to take at all. Your marriage is valid.

Caveat: This presumes neither of you have any prior marriages and that neither of you was baptized as a Catholic.

If either of the “caveats” apply to you, then yes you will have to do some work to convalidate your marriage. What and when will depend on your individual situation.

Go see your priest to make sure you have the correct information.


Your children were baptized Catholic and neither of you are Catholic? Did the church know this?


Yes, the church knew. From what I’ve read and been told the Catholic Church does not withhold the sacrament of baptism from children. If I’m wrong I’m sure someone will correct me. We do attend Mass, are in RCIA and the priest knows this. We are even enrolling our oldest in Catholic School. We didn’t baptize our children on a whim, we truly love the Catholic Church and want our children to be raised in it and appreciate it.

On the caveat: there were no prior marriages and we were not baptized Catholic, but Protestant.

A religious educator at the church told us in passing we would have to get married in the church in order to fulfill all our sacraments, but then she said it was up to the priest. Thus the confusion. We haven’t talked to the priest about it yet. That was basically why I was asking so I would know more about it before we go to him.

Thanks again!


She is mistaken. You have received the Sacrament of Marriage already. The priest is not the minister of the Sacrament, the couple are the ministers and confer the Sacrament upon each other.

Only Catholics must contract marriage in the Catholic form with a priest as witness. You both were validly baptized and therefore conferred the Sacrament on each other when you exchanged consent and vows.

Yes, I can see why. This religion teacher needs to brush up on the Sacrament of Marriage.

He can confirm your marital state.


Since neither of you were Catholic when you married, and this is a first marriage for each of you, your marriage is presumed to be valid and there is no need to do anything more.


there is to much missing info in OP to answer, and since every situation is different, can’t answer with authority about an individual situation here. the priest should interview you, in fact should have already done so, and that is where you lay out all the facts about your marriage, your baptismal status, previous marriages, and so forth so he can give you a solid answer. The general rule is that marriages between non-Catholics who are otherwise free to marry are considered valid, and if both are baptized, are also considered sacramental. If non-baptized persons who are validly married receive baptism, their marriage becomes sacramental as well, with no other action needed.

complications arise when there are previous marriages, when one party was baptized Catholic, for example, so unless the priest has all the relevant info, hard to do in a casual conversation, you can’t get an answer that applies to you.

oh, and welcome home to you and your family.


Thanks for all the great responses. :thumbsup:
It helps.

God Bless!


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