The Catholic Church distinguishes between a legal marriage and the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Sacrament of Matrimony involves two baptized people, one or both of whom are Catholic, becoming husband and wife through a sacred covenant with God and each other.

A valid Sacrament of Matrimony requires the presence of a priest or deacon, a bride and groom, and two witnesses of any religion. The bride and groom are the real ministers of the sacrament, because their “I do’s,” make them husband and wife. The priest or deacon is just an official witness for the Church — necessary, but still just a witness.

In addition, both partners need to pledge that the marriage will have the following characteristics

Permanent: Unto death. You can only receive the Sacrament of Matrimony once unless your spouse dies.

Faithful: No adultery.

Fruitful: Open to the possibility of children if God wills it.

Most Catholic weddings take place during a wedding Mass. Vows are exchanged as part of the Mass itself. If either the bride or groom isn’t of the Catholic faith, the Church usually suggests a wedding ceremony without Mass. And when a Catholic couple gets married in a civil or non-Catholic ceremony, they need a convalidation ceremony to make their marriage valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE: Please make arrangements with the pastor at least six months prior to the tentative date for you marriage. While Fr. Mike is on medical leave, please contact Decan Larry in the parish office 262-646-8078.

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