Why do some new Catholics marry during the Easter Vigil?


I have always wanted to ask about this because it has puzzled me.

Every year, on Holy Saturday, we usually have at least a few adult Baptisms. We also have people-adults-who were baptised but are receiving the Eucharist for the First time. Some are those just baptised. Some were baptised as infants but never received Holy Communion until they were adults. We have also have people being confirmed.

So far, I don’t think any of this is unusual. What I did find unusual was that after Holy Communion, a group of couples came up to the Altar to be married.

The person in charge of the religious education at that time told me that the Pastor had told these people that unless the Spouse consented to be married in a Catholic Ceremony, the Pastor would not permit these people to be Catholic. Is this the usual way to do this? All the ceremonies of Holy Saturday make for a very long service and I just wondered if the marriage part was appropriate to do then. Would not the Saturday afterward or another time be permitted? I just am curious because I know absolutely nothing about the rules concerning this type of thing.

Also, another part of this situation has always concerned me. Apparently, several of the people were being-well I guess being baptised conditionally would be the right way to express this. The reason I was told was the demonination they were baptised in does not use oil in their ceremony.

I know Catholics, Orthodox and others use oil in the baptismal ceremony but I never heard that was essential to a valid baptism.
When I was a child over 50 years ago, the Nuns made sure we-we were only grade school children-knew how to baptise in case of an emergency. There was no oil involved.

I’d be grateful if you could comment on what I have explained to you.
Thank you.


Dear bh,

The couples you refer to consist of a Catholic who has been married outside of the Catholic Church. His or her spouse has now become a Catholic. What the pastor is doing, is validating (blessing) those marriages so that the couple doesn’t fall immediately into mortal sin by having intercourse within a marriage that is not valid in the eyes of the Church. This is a very necessary thing to do.

As for baptizing conditionally, this is done when there is some doubt about the validity of the previous baptism—or if there is no proof that a baptism ever took place. The lack of the use of oil would not require a conditional baptism.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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