If you are members of St Charles Borromeo Parish or are a regular participant in the Mass celebrated for English Speakers, and you plan to be married, please bear in mind the following:
1. Contact the English-speaking priest 6 months before the time when you hope to have your wedding. Bear in mind that you should do this before you set a wedding date and before you invest money in reserving a place for the wedding reception, as not every date may be available for using the church. Also, it is very important to make sure that there are no impediments to a Catholic marriage. This can only be determined by an open discussion with the priest.
2. During or after your first meeting with the priest, you will need to submit the following documents:
- An official copy of both the bride and the groom’s baptismal certificate. This copy must be dated within three months before the proposed wedding date. These certificates may be ordered from the parish or church (if one party is not Catholic) where you were baptized. In the case of non-Catholics, where no baptismal certificate is issued, a stamped, “official” letter from a church representative is needed.
- An affidavit of freedom to marry. If you are Catholic, living in Poland, this information should be noted on your baptismal certificate. For foreigners, the process can be more complicated, and your national embassy or consulate may be able to help you. Whatever the circumstances, the priest must be certain that you are free to marry. Discuss your situation with him in the first meeting with him for advice and information how to proceed in this matter. If one or both of you have been married previously, you will need to present a copy of your former spouse’s death certificate, or a copy of the Decree of Nullity indicating that the Church has determined that a previous “marriage” was in fact, not valid.
- Certification of Holy Communion and Confirmation. These sacraments are necessary for complete initiation into the Catholic Church. If you are Catholic, but have not yet received the sacrament of Confirmation, you will probably be asked to do so before you are married (see Canon 1065).
- If you do not reside within the boundaries of St. Charles Borromeo parish, but wish to be married in the parish church of St. Charles Borromeo, you need to get permission from your own parish priest. (The priest will explain the entire process in your meeting with him.) This can take additional time if your home parish is not in Poland.
Only when the priest determines that all of your paperwork is in order, will your wedding date be officially ‘set’ and reserved in the church. The sooner you begin the process of submitting your documents, the better.
When the priest has your paperwork and has determined that you are free to marry, the process of preparation for the sacrament beings.
3. At a second meeting with the priest – usually the same meeting when you turn in the paperwork required above – you will be asked as a couple to complete a pre-marital survey in a face-to-face interview with the priest. These questions refer to your capacity and readiness to undertake the serious responsibility of Catholic Marriage, and that you are entering into the sacrament with full freedom and understanding.
Once it has been determined that you are able to be married in the Church, you can consider you wedding date to be ‘official’ and as far as the Church is concerned, it’s safe to send out invitations.
4. Depending on circumstances, after the first or second meeting with the priest, you will be asked to complete a formal marriage preparation program (if this has not already been done.) This program will also include a Natural Family Planning Course. You will be required to present a certificate indicating you have completed the course.
5. The parish spends a considerable amount of time and money helping you to prepare for your marriage. In many countries, parishes charge a set fee to cover some of this expense. In our parish a fee is not specified, however, it is customary to offer a monetary gift, usually when the paperwork is completed. How do you determine the appropriate amount? You could offer reasonable percentage of what you expect to spend on the whole wedding, or offer as much as you choose to spend on more “optional” elements of the wedding, such as the cost of photography or wedding clothes. However, all eligible persons have a right to receive the sacrament of marriage, even if they are not able to make a donation to help the parish with the costs of their wedding.