Just a Thought…
I was in a meeting this week about various things related to the mission of Old St. Patrick’s and one the topics of our conversation was weddings. As you can imagine and perhaps as you already know, throughout the past twenty years or so Old St. Pat’s has become a very “popular” place for weddings. Most Saturdays, if you come to Old St. Pat’s you will witness a wedding Liturgy being celebrated at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. That is quite a line-up! In fact, when folks inquire whether or not we have a Saturday Vigil Mass in anticipation of Sunday, the quick and straight answer is no because of all the weddings. Wedding Ministry is a big part of the life and mission of Old St. Pat’s. When you think of the average age of those giving their hearts and hands to each other in marriage, our Wedding Ministry is a big extension of our young adult outreach to people in their 20’s and 30’s. I am honored and blessed to share in the journey with a young couple as they prepare for a life-time of marriage. A lot of work goes into our Marriage Ministry and I am tremendously grateful to JoAnn O’Brien who coordinates and schedules our weddings (in addition to so many other details); Jack Berkemeyer, Terry Nelson-Johnson, and Patty Stiles for graciously hosting our own St. Pat’s Pre-Cana, Foccus inventory, and the annulment support ministry. I am so grateful to the many volunteers who coordinate rehearsals on Friday evenings and to the crew of volunteers, sacristans, musicians, and the Old St. Pat’s maintenance team who appear every Saturday on wedding days to make sure things go “just right.” The weddings are a significant moment of sacred celebration as couples prayerfully and sacramentally make their way into the voyage of marriage. I am proud of the way Old St. Pat’s “hosts” the experience of marriage every Saturday and beyond.
While I know a lot could be written and talked about with respect to marriage, family life, and the ritual celebration of the sacrament, one thing that came up in our meeting is the disappointing fact that the number of weddings (even here at Old St. Pat’s) has gone down the past couple of years. Certainly we are not the only ones experiencing the “softening” of wedding numbers. It is unfortunately happening throughout the culture and we are not immune to that reality. I am also mindful of the reality that first/second marriages, the lengthiness of annulments, and the church/divorce/remarriage issues and those related questions have on many people. It can be frustrating and confusing. In addition to many complicated church issues, there is a growing trend among young adults to have “destination” weddings and thus either marry in a church ceremony somewhere else or not marry in the church at all.
Mindful of many issues facing us, I just want to keep inviting you/us to keep alive the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage in our Tradition. If there are annulment or marriage issues, we are here to help. If there are questions or uncertainties about status, we are here to help. If you think the only way to have a Catholic wedding is by inviting 300+ people and spending thousands of dollars, you do not need to! If we can help you in any way with related marriage questions, please let us know.
Continued Easter Blessings,
Fr. Tom Hurley