“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (Catechism 1601)

Preparation for marriage, particularly in our contemporary culture, is of major pastoral importance. We earnestly desire that when a man and woman enter into the holy bond of marriage they do so in a way that not only ensures that the union be valid, but also ensures they are able to mutually support each other in life and love. No marriage is without struggle, but adequate preparation can assist a couple to persevere in faith and to know the joy and blessings of their relationship.

The celebration of marriage is a liturgical act and a form of public worship of the Church. The couple, even if one of them is unbaptized, shares in the mystery of the unity and fruitful love of Christ and the Church symbolized both in their union and in the liturgical celebration in the church. This celebration, particularly in the homily, should highlight this mystery.

The Church teaches that the Sacrament of Marriage is a commitment of life and love which stretches through the lifetime of the couple and which must grow and develop every day. In order to prepare for this sacrament, anyone seeking marriage in the Church must contact the Parish Office at least six (6) months prior to the wedding. Interviews with the priest, special classes and other preparations are necessary before a couple can celebrate their marriage in Church. Requirements are as follows:

  • Couples are to approach the Church at least six (6) months in advance of the anticipated liturgical celebration of their marriage.
  • The preparing minister is to assist the couple in the completion and collection of all the necessary documents for marriage in the Church.
  • A pre-marriage inventory will be administered and thoroughly reviewed with the couple. Normally, this will be the FOCCUS; but for those who have been married outside the Church and are seeking to marry in the Church and have been married at least three years, the REFOCCUS may be used.
  • The couple must participate in a Natural Family Planning Class, which can done either with the accredited instructors or with accredited online program.
  • Marriage preparation is a time to develop a relationship with couples, to accompany them, and assist them in becoming active members of the parish family.

Additional Requirements

Mixed Marriage: Parties in a mixed marriage (where one party is not Catholic) should discuss the raising of children in the Catholic faith prior to planning the wedding. The Catholic party must sign a promise that he/she will do all in their power to see to that the children are baptized and raised as Catholics.

Previous Marriages: Individuals who have previously been married may be required to obtain an annulment. In the annulment process, the Church evaluates the validity of a previous marriage. This determines whether that relationship was a true sacramental marriage, as understood by the Church. This must be granted before you reserve the church for a wedding date. Please visit the Diocesan Tribunal or contact Father Cliff for more information.

Premarital Pregnancy/Underage Party: In addition, there are special steps required when one person is under 19 or when there is a premarital pregnancy.

Additional Resources

For more information on Catholic Marriage, including dating, cohabitation, divorce, annulment and much more visit For Your Marriage, an initiative of the USCCB.

And to begin your marriage journey at St. Patrick’s, contact Father Clff or the Parish Office.