Answers to frequently asked Questions

  1. Ecumenical or Interfaith Marriages
  2. Marriage before a Priest or Deacon in the Catholic Church
  3. Marriage before a Protestant Minister in a Protestant Church
  4. Visiting Clergy at Good Shepherd Catholic Community
  5. Marriage in another Catholic Parish
  6. Preparation at another Catholic Parish
  7. Non-Practicing Catholics
  8. Required Documents

 

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
 
1.  Ecumenical Marriages
When one of the parties is not Catholic, both need to understand and respect the role the church plays in married life. And, we assure you at the same time of our respect for other religious traditions. In conversations with the marriage preparation coordinator, priest or deacon, Catholic belief and practice will be discussed, especially in relation to marriage. The Catholic partner will be asked to make a commitment to live out his/her Catholic faith personally and with the children born of that marriage. It is important, we believe, that everyone have an opportunity to be a member of God’s people through the Sacrament of Baptism. Therefore, the Catholic spouse is asked to promise not only to continue living out his/her commitment to the faith, but also to pass it on to their children by having the children baptized in the Catholic faith and by having them receive instruction in the Catholic religion. The non-Catholic partner will be asked to be trusting, open and understanding about Catholic faith and traditions. We welcome a minister of another faith tradition to participate in the wedding ceremony at Good Shepherd Catholic Community. A Protestant minister is invited to perform certain functions at a Catholic wedding. Your witnesses, Best Man and Maid of Honor, may also be persons of another faith tradition.
 
2.  Marriage before a Priest or Deacon in a Catholic Church
Catholic couples may wish to choose either a Nuptial Mass or a Wedding Liturgy of the Word for their marriage. Most often Catholic couples celebrate their marriage at a Nuptial Mass with the priest presiding. This is very appropriate. A deacon may officiate or assist. In the case of an ecumenical or interfaith marriage, we recommend that the couple celebrate their marriage before a priest or a deacon at a Wedding Liturgy of the Word (without communion) rather than a Mass, so that both parties and their families feel fully included in the celebration. If the Nuptial Mass is chosen without any serious division for the couple and their families, the priest can invite ways for all present to participate with the exception of communion. However, this may not be a satisfactory option for all ecumenical or interfaith marriages. 
 
3.  Marriage before a Protestant Minister in a Protestant Church
In the case of an ecumenical marriage, the couple may celebrate their marriage before a Protestant Minister in a Protestant Church with or without the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon. If this would be important for you, be sure to talk about it early with the Director of Marriage Ministries. For a good reason, canonical permission can be requested/obtained and the Bishop of the Catholic diocese will provide you with the dispensation to allow for this. The Marriage will be recorded at Good Shepherd Catholic Community.
 
4.  Visiting Clergy at Good Shepherd Catholic Community
If, for a good reason, a couple wishes to invite visiting clergy to officiate at their Wedding at Good Shepherd Catholic Community, they should ask the Director of Marriage Ministries here before making such arrangements. If the invitation of visiting clergy is acceptable to our diocese, the pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Community will delegate him with the canonical permission to officiate here. And, if the visiting clergyman is also doing the pre-marital preparation with the couple, he will need to follow the marriage preparation guidelines of Good Shepherd Catholic Community. Visiting clergy are expected to follow the liturgical guidelines as set forth by Good Shepherd Catholic Community for any Nuptial Mass or Wedding Liturgy of the Word taking place here. The couple who invites visiting clergy to officiate at their Wedding is responsible for paying their expenses. You may also wish to give them a free-will offering.
 
5.  Marriage in another Catholic Parish
If there is serious reason for a couple to be married in a parish other than their home parish of Good Shepherd Catholic Community, the pastor here must first give permission for the couple to be married at another parish and for the priest or deacon of the other parish to officiate at the wedding. The pre-marital preparation may be done here or at the other parish. Planning for the Wedding Liturgy with the pastor of the other parish is the responsibility of the couple.
 
6.  Preparation at another Catholic Parish
When a couple lives at a distance away from their home parish of Good Shepherd Catholic Community, pre-marital preparation may be done at a Catholic Church near their residence. In such a case the Director of Marriage Ministries of Good Shepherd Catholic Community needs to be informed immediately so that she may forward to the couple a copy of our Wedding Preparation Manual. The necessary documents from the pastor of the other Catholic parish need to be sent in a timely fashion to the marriage coordinator of Good Shepherd Catholic Community before the wedding can take place here, at their home parish. Signing a contract, scheduling the wedding date and the rehearsal date as well as planning for the Wedding Liturgy is the responsibility of the couple.
 
7.  Non-Practicing Catholics
Our diocesan guidelines call for non-practicing Catholics to receive special instruction in the Catholic faith and to be given the opportunity to return to the practice of the faith. Such a period of instruction in the faith may increase the time of preliminary marriage preparation.
 
8.  Required Documents
In addition to a recent issue of baptismal certificates for the Catholic parties, the couple will need to obtain a Marriage License from any county courthouse in the State of Texas no more than 90 days prior and no less than 4 days before the Wedding date. The Affidavit of Freedom to Marry will also be needed, bearing the signatures of four witnesses who can testify to your freedom to marry. These witnesses can be parents, relatives, or long-time friends who complete and sign the Affidavit in the presence of any Priest, Deacon or lay Pastoral Assistant. The Marriage License should be given to the wedding minister at rehearsal where the wedding will take place.