Sunday, January 23, 2011

Turned Away By My Church

So to make a long story, short... I have two boys, one will be 3 in March and the other is 4 months old as of last week.  My husband and I are both Catholic and come from very Catholic families.  Since I was still finishing up college when I got pregnant with my kids and we had no time to plan a big, fancy wedding at the time, we decided, what the heck, let's just go to the court house and get married in the meantime and we'll have our official wedding ceremony with friends and family once the second baby is born, I'm graduated from college and things aren't quite as hectic.

So one random March afternoon (it was actually the day before our son's 2nd birthday), we went to the courthouse, got the paperwork taken care of, and in a matter of only an hour or so, we were in this small, quiet museum right in the middle of this small city.  While we both took it seriously, we both also realized that it was very important that we be married by a Priest in a church, in front of God and our family and friends.
It's almost been a year since we exchanged vows in that little museum, and since then I have graduated college, had the new baby, moved into a new house and now we are ready to PLAN A WEDDING!!!    

So naturally, the first person I go to is the new Priest at the parish that we have been members of for 3 years.  Although we don't attend mass regularly, this is the church where our first son was baptized and the previous Priest, who just recently left, had been the Priest that baptized my mother's first daughter right before she passed away from a bad case of pneumonia, at only 2-years-old.  We also figured the timing worked out perfectly since they charge you $2,000 to hold your wedding in their church if you've been members for less than a year, but since we have been parishioners for over two years now, it would only cost us $500.  But when I spoke with the Priest, he told me that I should find the church nearest to our new house since we are no longer within their parish boundaries.  He told me that he would have considered marrying us if we were regular church-goers, and then continues to explain that since we are civilly married through the Justice of the Peace and have children that he wouldn't do a full mass ceremony for us anyways. And not to mention, "I wouldn't want you to have to drive 20 minutes to get here when there's another church right down the street from you guys", he told me.  "But I don't want you to think I'm turning you away", he kept telling me over the phone.  But that's exactly what I felt like he was doing.  Even though I continued to tell him that the 20 minute drive was no problem at all because we were in that area very often and that I was just more familiar with his church and had been excited about planning my wedding there with them for years, but just hadn't had time with being a full-time student and full-time mother of two. To my disappointment, he held his ground and tried to tell me that he preferred for me to find "our" church.

While I somewhat understood where he was coming from, I couldn't believe that he was pretty much refusing to marry me in what I considered "my" church.  I got off the phone in tears, feeling almost embarrassed.  I felt like he had judged me for having children out of wedlock and then doing what we felt was right, by getting married according to law before our second child was born.  It's one thing to feel judged by everyday people when I'm out with my kids at the store or even try to attend mass with a baby, and they stare and make comments that I look like I'm way too young to have a child, much-less two children.  I am 25 years old, which is a bit young, but that was my choice and it doesn't affect anyone but me.  Most people grow up wanting to be a doctor or a teacher, well I wanted to be a mom!  I guess I've learned to just expect those judgmental looks and comments from bystanders, but I never expected to be judged by a man of God, a Priest of all people.  Isn't one of their jobs as a priest to teach us not to judge others... for only God can judge us when he comes back on Judgment Day.  I'm not a super religious person or anything, but I just found it a bit hypocritical.  I don't think it was about whether we were within their parish boundaries or not.  I know plenty of people who have gotten married at Catholic Churches that weren't even within their state, much-less their parish boundaries. But this Priest didn't even give me the option.

Luckily, my "future" mother-in-law took me to her parish last week to speak to them about having a wedding with them and they had absolutely no problem since she and her husband have been parishioners there for years. Within five minutes of walking in the door, they had us filling out papers for both our new son's baptism (which the other church also 'preferred' not to do) and our wedding and they told us that the Priest would call as soon as he got a chance.  I left feeling relieved and so excited that I would finally be able to have my big Catholic wedding ceremony that I've always dreamed of.  And in less than an hour's time, Father called us and arranged a meeting for the next week to come in, meet him, set a date and get the ball rolling!  It's now the night before we get to meet with him and I am happier than ever! I know God works in mysterious ways and maybe there is a reason for things to work out this way.  Now that I think about it, I wouldn't even want to get married at our old parish. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's not cool or fun!
    I am sorry you had to go through this whole ordeal... :(
    I jsut saw your comment that you posted on my blog... (busymommy)
    Also, I can feel you for when you lost your baby... I had a miscarriage, I almost 12 weeks along... Iknow, not exactly the same, we kinda... we both lost a human being, a baby...
    here's my e-mail if you ever want to chat as well.