Note: Because each couple’s situation is unique, persons interested in having their marriage recognized by the Church (known as convalidation) should speak with their parish priest or local Tribunal.
Why does it matter if we marry in the Catholic Church or not?
Unlike other marriages, Catholic Marriage is a Sacrament which makes the love of Christ present in the world. The relationship between spouses imitates that of Christ the Bridegroom with his Bride, the Church. Through their exchange of vows, the couple receives the power of God’s grace to help them sustain their love and commitment to one another all the days of their lives. Read more about the Sacrament of Marriage here.
What if there is a prior marriage?
If a Catholic would like to marry in the Church and either party has been married previously, the spouse from the previous union must have died or the Church must have issued a declaration of nullity (or annulment) of that marriage.
For information on seeking an annulment in the Diocese of Arlington, click here.
Is convalidation just a blessing of our existing union?
No, convalidation requires that a new, free act of consent be made. In order for a valid Catholic marriage to come about, both parties must be capable of marrying, give their free consent, and follow canonical form.
- To be capable of marriage, both parties must be emotionally mature, psychologically stable, physically capable, and free from all impediments. The priest will help you determine if there are any impediments.
- Consent involves the free commitment to a lifelong, exclusive marriage that is open to children. Consent makes marriage: “The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage” (1057, §1).
- Canonical form requires that vows be exchanged in the presence of a bishop, priest or deacon and two witnesses according to the Order of Celebrating Matrimony. Special permission is required for Catholics to marry in a place other than their parish church.
How do we get started?
Contact your local parish to request an appointment with the pastor or his delegate. If there is a prior marriage, seek a declaration of nullity. To reach the pastor of St. Agnes email [email protected].