The mutual love of man and woman becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves humanity.
Congratulations on your engagement! This is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter and we are pleased to support you along the way.
The Diocese of Bathurst has 17 parishes. You can have your wedding in any of the churches within these parishes – perhaps one that’s near your home or a favourite destination within the Diocese.
What is the Catholic Understanding of Marriage?
God created man and woman in his image and likeness. By coming together in a permanent, publicly declared, committed relationship of love they ‘become one flesh’ and image God’s love in the world.
The union of a man and woman is a great joy. This union is ordered to the communion and good of the couple and to the generation and education of children: to the formation of a family. Through the complimentary nature of their relationship, the bride and groom are called to a love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful.
Matrimony or Marriage is a natural institution that is the foundation of society. But Jesus has also raised this institution to be a sacrament. When two baptised people enter into marriage, the spouses receive special graces and their relationship is an important part of how they live as Christian disciples and become holy. In this sacrament, they become not only an image of God’s love for humanity, but also an image of Christ’s love for the Church.
What is necessary for a Valid Marriage?
Marriage is between two adults who are not already married or in religious vows and who freely and publicly declare their love through life-long vows. This declaration must be freely given without coercion and it must be witnessed. The couple must also clearly understand the commitment they are making, which is one reason marriage preparation is important.
In order to clearly express the commitment of marriage, couples must choose a Church-accepted form of the marriage vows and cannot compose their own. They must also publicly declare a positive answer to these three questions, which outline the essential elements of a valid marriage:
- Have you come here to enter into Marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?
- Are you prepared, as you follow the path of Marriage, to love and honour each other for as long as you both shall live?
- Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
In the Catholic Church, the public declaration or exchange of vows occurs in a liturgical celebration, either a Liturgy of the Word or a Nuptial Mass. It is an act of worshipping God. When the marriage is a sacrament (between two baptised people) it must be held in a church unless there are serious reasons which would cause the couple to seek special permission from the Bishop for the wedding to take place in another appropriate location.
The ministers of the sacrament of matrimony are the couple themselves, however their declaration must be made before a witness authorised by the Church: usually a priest or deacon.
In Australia the priest or deacon is also a government-authorised marriage celebrant and so a Catholic wedding is recognised by both the Church and the State.
What should I do first, to organise my wedding?
If you have chosen a church in the Diocese of Bathurst that you would like to celebrate your marriage in, contact the local parish where the church is located, to discuss the booking process and begin your wedding preparation.
At your first meeting with the priest or deacon, you will need to supply copies of your birth certificates, recent transcripts of your baptism certificates, and photo identification (driver’s license, ID card, passport).
Does my wedding ceremony have to be a Mass?
Our priests are asked this question a lot! The answer is no. When you get married in a Catholic church, you have the option of a ‘Wedding Ceremony’ or a ‘Nuptial Mass’. A Wedding Ceremony celebrates the Liturgy of the Word and includes Scripture readings (which you select with the celebrant) and the Liturgy of Marriage, where you exchange vows and rings and the priest will pray a nuptial blessing over you. A Nuptial Mass includes the above celebrations and is followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The parish will discuss these options with you and help you choose what’s best for you and your family.
Do I have to be Catholic to get married in a church?
As marriage is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church, at least one party to the marriage (either the bride or groom) should be a baptised Catholic. It’s not necessary for you both to be baptised Catholic.
What is marriage preparation?
Before your wedding day you will asked to complete a marriage preparation course. It will be an opportunity for you and your partner to discuss your goals for the future, your roles in the relationship, how you’ll deal with conflict, parenting and many other critical things in the lead up to your marriage.
There are a few different options available for couples including private one on one courses or group sessions with other couples. Ask the local priest what the preparation requirements are in that parish.
Centacare Bathurst is the endorsed relationship course provider in the Diocese of Bathurst. Contact Centacare at email@example.com or ph: 02 6331 8944 to talk about options for courses in person and online.
What if I have been married before?
The vows taken at a marriage are for life. While some couples sadly may separate or divorced civilly, Catholics believe that the bond of a valid marriage cannot be broken in this life. As long as one’s original spouse lives, a person is not able to enter into a new union.
Though the Church does not accept the breaking of the marriage bond, there is a process by which the original marriage may be declared null. An annulment is not Catholic divorce. Rather, it is a declaration that the marriage was not truly valid after a confidential process conducted through the Diocese’s Marriage Tribunal.
If you have been married before, the annulment process will need to be completed before your marriage preparation begins and a date is booked for your wedding.
If you have been married before and would like to marry in the Church you should make an appointment with your local priest to discuss your situation. This will be handled confidentially and with sensitivity.