Personal and Legal preparations
RUBY GRACE MESDE
The saying goes
• "When you marry, you don't just marry
an individual, you marry a whole family.“
• But more specifically, you are marrying the
influences that family has had on your
spouse. Our families have shaped our views on
everything from religion to finances to sex, and,
whether helpful or harmful, these views are
brought to our marriage and can unknowingly
• Couples preparing for marriage should contact
the rectory at least 6 months in advance of
desired date. All couples are required to attend a
Marriage Preparation Program.
PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE
• Your personal preparation is crucial for the
success of your marriage. Your family and
friends, the priest and the Church as a whole
have a responsibility to support you in these
preparations. Realizing that you have already
begun to think about (your personal
relationship), the church has developed a formal
preparation required of every couple seeking to
be married. This will assist you in exploring
those issues in even greater depth.
• The priest or deacon you have selected will be your
principal advisor in the formal marriage preparation
process. Therefore, you should contact this priest or
deacon at least six months before your proposed
wedding date. If you plan to be married in a church
other than your own parish, or if the priest or
deacon whom you have asked to officiate is NOT a
member of your parish staff, you should also contact
one of your parish priests.
• The priest or deacon who is to assist you in
preparing for marriage will give a general
overview of the entire preparation period and
settle on a schedule of the steps to be taken that
is convenient for all concerned. There are five
elements in this preparation process.
The Personal Preparation:
• You need to select a marriage preparation
program from among those certified by the
Archdiocese of Baltimore, Marriage Preparation
and Enrichment office. These are the Pre-Cana
Conferences, Sponsor Couple Program (parish
based), Remarriage Preparation Program (for
couples where one or both have been married
previously), and the Engaged Encounter
Weekends. For additional information, please
contact the Marriage Preparation and
Enrichment office, (410) 547-5417.
The Legal Preparation:
Civil law requires that the parties present a license
valid from the city or county where the marriage is
to take place to the clergyman who officiates. The
universal law of the Catholic Church requires that
parties respond to a pre-marriage questionnaire and
furnish certain documents mentioned, including (for
Catholic parties) a baptismal certificate of recent
date (i.e., within six months of the proposed
marriage). The priest or deacon assisting you will
present the questionnaire and guide you in
obtaining the documents that may be needed.
Personal Preparation: Register for
• In cooperation with the priest or deacon
officiating at your wedding, each couple will
participate in a marriage preparation program
certified by the Archdiocese of Baltimore listed
below. You have several options for completing
this element of your marriage preparation. Your
parish is the first source to which you should
turn for this program.
Parish Sponsor Couple Program • This program is available only at parishes with
trained sponsor couples, so inquire about
availability at your parish. A married couple
from your parish is trained to guide you through
your preparation course, using a Pre-marriage
Discussion Inventory to facilitate
communication and understanding. Meet with
the sponsor couple at their home. Register
directly with your parish.
Parish Remarriage Preparation • This program is similar to the Sponsor Couple
Program, with additional attention to stepfamilies and other special issues of remarrying
couples. Remarriage Preparation is only
available at those parishes that have teams of
remarriage sponsor couples, so inquire about
availability at your parish. Register directly with
• Archdiocesan Remarriage Preparation For schedule and to registration.
• Parish Pre-Cana Programs - Your parish
may offer a group program open only to
parishioners. Check with your parish about this
option. Register directly with your parish.
• Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends This weekend marriage prepararation program
is an approved option. Visit their website to view
the schedule and register online.
• Archdiocesan Pre-Cana Conferences These workshop-style group programs are open
to any couple. Take a pre-marriage discussion
inventory to facilitate communication and
understanding. Priority is given to couples from
the hosting parishes and programs fill up six to
nine months in advance, so inquire promptly at
the Archdiocese Marriage and Family
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