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What To Expect At Your First Meeting With A Catholic Priest

If you are Catholic, you may be nervous about what to expect when you and your fiancé meet with the priest for the first time. Relax, just as the priest knew his sacramental calling was to enter the priesthood, he just will want to make sure your sacramental calling is to enter the vocation of marriage. Once he has established this as truth, he will work with you to make getting to the altar as easy as possible.

Your first meeting with the priest should occur at least six months to a year prior to the day you want to get married. All parishes vary, so you should contact your parish as soon as you get engaged to find out when to schedule your first meeting. Some parishes will let you reserve a wedding date without meeting with the priest first, others will not.

During your first meeting you will just get to know each other. The priest will want to get to know you both as individuals and then as a couple. To do this, he will have a questionnaire from the Diocese with prepared questions he asks each of you. This takes about an hour. Some priests elect to have your fiancé leave the room while you are answering the questions, but others prefer to keep you together. The questions will range from the basic—like, "What is your birthday?" "Were you baptized Catholic?" etc. to some moderately personal ones, like, "How was religion viewed in your house growing up?" "Will you accept children into your own marriage," etc. to some very personal ones. These questions, at least in the Diocese of Albany, New York, were things such as, "Do you have any reason to think you will not be able to have sexual intercourse with your spouse?" "Have you ever need psychological treatment?" etc. These personal questions are asked and documented to make sure you are entering marriage on your own free will and in case, for any reason, you seek an annulment (dissolution of your marriage by the Church) later in your marriage.

One question you may be dreading is the "Are you living together?" one. Anticipating this question made my fiancé and I nervous because we did live together—something the Catholic Church as an entity frowns upon. Luckily our priest was very understanding. He said even though he did not condone this activity, he did not condemn it. Basically he explained that even though we live together now, things will be different when we are married and that we are entering a Sacrament that takes much work to succeed. He said if he was not allowed to marry couples who were living together before marriage he would only perform about one wedding a year! His understanding and realistic attitude was very welcomed.

As far as the specifics of your wedding ceremony, your priest won’t ask you too much during your first meeting. You will set a date and time if you have not already, but that is about it. Do not worry about coming prepared with your number of attendants, readers, Gospel selection, etc! Your priest will not expect those decisions to have been made yet. He will want to know if you will want to get married within the mass (meaning you will receive the Eucharist during your ceremony) or not – but that is probably the biggest decision as far as the actual planning of the ceremony you will make at your first meeting.

At the first meeting, your priest will also talk to you about your options for Pre-Cana (marriage preparation). The Church requires Pre-Cana, but you do have several options. Our options were to meet with our priest about six times for individual marriage counseling or to attend an Engaged Encounter weekend. We choose the Engaged Encounter weekend and ended up meeting with our priest just once more to actually plan out the ceremony (although we did communicate by email and telephone quite a bit during the planning process).

At the end of your first meeting your priest will give you a book that will help you plan your ceremony step by step—ours was called "Together Forever." We completed the book over several months and it was very easy and enjoyable to use. The priest will also most likely give you a booklet or list of rules for the ceremony unique to your parish and the name of the person to contact about your music ceremony music – most likely the parish music director.

Overall, our first meeting with our priest was excellent—looking back we felt silly for having been so nervous! As our ceremony planning continued and our communication and relationship with our priest developed even more, we realized he was just as excited to marry us as we were to be getting married.

 

This article originally appeared here.

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