Are Church Weddings a Thing of the Past?

Marriage and church weddings have been on my mind lately as some of my closest friends have gotten engaged and have begun to plan their weddings. The amount of time and money that goes into planning a wedding is astronomical, and the Church does not make either burden easier. I never understood why someone would want to elope, but after watching and listening to what some of my friends have gone through in planning their weddings it now makes a lot of sense to me.

Amid the fury of friends’ wedding plans, I saw an article in The Atlantic titled: “The Spiritual Significance of a Traditional Church Wedding.” The article got me to thinking…”Are Church weddings a thing of the past?”

Emma Green at The Atlantic gives some startling statistics:

In 1970, there were roughly 426,000 Catholic weddings, accounting for 20 percent of all marriages in the United States that year. Beginning in 1970, however, Catholic marriages went into decades of steady decline, until the turn of the new century—when that decline started to become precipitous: Between 2000 and 2012, Church weddings dropped by 40 percent, according to new data from the Official Catholic Directory. Given other demographic trends in the denomination, this pattern is question-raising: As of 2012, there were an estimated 76.7 million Catholics in the United States, a number that has been growing for at least four decades.

One does not have to look at the Official Catholic Directory to realize there has been a decline in Catholic marriages. Despite the growth in the Church for almost 50 years, marriages have not kept up. This leads Green to ask the question: “If there are so many American Catholics, why aren’t they getting married?”

There are as many answers to this question as there are Catholics who have “opted-out” of a traditional Catholic marriage. Green offers a few possible answers:

  • lack of awareness about the importance of marriage in the Church
  • an across the board fall in the number of marriages in the US. (In 2000 there were 2.3 million marriages and in 2011 there were 2.1 million marriages.)

But Green hits the nail on the head when she writes: “the deeper cause is the changing relationship between people and traditional institutions.”

I understand the reasons why many people are disconnected from tradition institutions today. I get why people have become disenfranchised and frustrated with the Church. Unfortunately, their frustration with the institutional church has often led them to abandon the sacraments. This should sadden us. While the sacraments are an extension of the institutional church, they move beyond it. Sacraments are an important part of our Catholic faith and they are powerful moments of encounter with God along our earthly pilgrimage. The sacraments are about an I-We-God relationship. They are about the relationship between the individual, the Church/world, and God. You might say “duh…”, but unfortunately we can no longer take this for granted.

Pope Francis is well aware of the modern world’s institutional and sacramental crisis.

If we take Avery Dulles’ Models of the Church as our guide, Pope Francis has been working tirelessly to challenge us and the world to approach the Church not as an institution, but as a community, a sacrament, a herald of the Gospel, a servant, and a community of disciples. His papacy will be a great success even if the only thing he is able to do is help the world see the Church less as an institution and more as the Body of Christ.

Moving the world’s thinking away from the Church as institution will help heal old wounds, but I am not sure our sacramental crisis is completely an institutional one.

Frequently I hear liturgists and other academics ask the question: “Is modern humanity capable of the liturgical act?” I do not know the answer to that question. My sense is that we are capable of the liturgical act, but that we need a lot of practice. The Church needs to spend its time and resources studying this question. The answer to this question has a direct bearing on the life of the Church. It is the answer to the world’s sacramental crisis and all of the questions it has created.

For this reason, the answer to the question “Are Church weddings a thing of the past?” is much deeper than it might appear at first glance. It cuts to the heart of modern humanity, and it should force us to reflect on ourselves, the Church, and the modern world. If we begin down that road we might not like what we see; however, we must have faith that no matter our brokenness God, who can do all things, can heal the wounds of the world.

37 comments

  1. This October, my husband and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage. We were married in a traditional Catholic setting. When I look back, I remember the liturgy more than the reception. Grant it, I was already serving as a church musician, product of Catholic education and even had a sister who was a Religious to help me. I understood alot about Marriage as Sacrament but I have to say that it wasn’t until I was married for almost 20 years, that I began to understand Marriage as a Sacrament of service…. a full time vocation in it’s own right. I came to that understanding as a consequence of maturing especially in my personal relationship with Christ. I asked God for the grace to let me see my husband as God sees my husband. I think it is a rare for a young couple to have the maturity of a couple married twenty years.

    I have assisted couples and my own daughter prepare the liturgy for their weddings. It is distressing to me how much the Wedding industry has hyjacked even Catholic Weddings. I have come to understand that the time when couples come to me to prepare the liturgy for their wedding is a time too late to really effectively discuss Marriage as a Sacrament of service/vocation. The best that I can do is strive to be pastoral and present, up front, what I can offer in my role as a pastoral musician/liturgist from the Catholic perspective and guidelines of the diocese.

    I think that it might be helpful to look at how we present Marriage as Sacrament throughout the faith formation process from the early years through adolescense to young adults before a couple even gets to the point of Pre Cana classes. If we hope to promote Catholic Marriages, I think we need to promote and invest in solid faith formation and provide opportunity for individuals to grow in their faith journey and relationship with Christ and the Church community.

    I do feel hopeful because I do see parish communities providing more opportunities for Adult Faith Formation such as “Discovering Christ”, “Catholicism” and Adult…

  2. The only real way to move the world’s thinking away from an institutional view of church to an understanding of the church as community is for people to experience it as such. Unfortunately as parishes become larger, church leaders behave as bureaucrats, and conversations around issues of human sexuality fail to connect with the lived experience of the people, this trend away from marriage in the church will only continue. If the church is to be regarded differently, it needs a change of heart far more than a change of image.

  3. Weddings in Catholic churches in my area have noticeably plummeted since the turn of the century. So have funerals.

  4. Among my inactive Catholic family and friends who get married, most get married at a winery, a park, a hotel, or the new craze: destination weddings. The ceremonies are usually performed by a rent-a-minister provided by the venue and it’s sufficiently churchy for their sensibilities. Of the minority who do go the Catholic church route, they tend to get very annoyed, feeling like the pre-cana process is a bunch of hoops to jump through. They approach it like a consumer transaction, checkbook in hand.

    At least the ones who self-select to get married in the church are more likely to be well formed and practicing Catholics. Fewer requests for secular love songs than I was getting 10 years ago.

  5. I still find it hard to comprehend that parishes ask for such large donations ($500.000 for church weddings. Plus some restrictive pre-requisites (must be a registered and donating member of the parish) seem to require more than canon law does. I agree that many couples getting married no longer identify with institutions. On the other hand, couples who get married without any kind of pastoral, spiritual and practical preparation run some risks. When I was a parish priest I was so appreciative when couples would come a year or more in advance of the wedding date so we could really work on the marriage preparation process and get that done well before the crush of the immediate preparations for the wedding. I tried to emphasize that he church is more interested in the quality of the marriage relationship than in the particulars of the wedding day. Most were very cooperative.

  6. I also have relatives who wanted to be married on the beach, etc. Since they don’t go to Church anyways (despite my constant efforts to get them there).

    However, at the one parish I was assigned to (Mario Lemieux was originally supposed to be married there) the brides are lined up to schedule a date. One year I had a wedding every week fron September to Christmas.

    Do many of them really care about the Sacrament? For some, I personally don’t think so; they want the church building and the ceremony for the pictures. One couple I witnessed spent $15,000 just for flowers. The parish got $10.00 for the mass stipend (the parish guidelines were changed after that episode). I was only invited to the reception to give the blessing for the meal (I declined).

    There are some who are completely devoted to the Sacrament, most who are not opposed but are so-so with the faith, and some who only want services for their personal wants and desires.

    I try my best to help them understand what the Sacrament is all about. I hope that with maturity comes a deeper Faith and Commitment to each other and to the Lord.

  7. I just finished a 90-minute meeting with an engaged couple. I’m not even playing at their wedding–they want an organist and a quartet of singers. They asked about some gesture during the Mass they could perform as a couple as their first act in marriage. They asked if they could assist at the altar during the preparation of the gifts.

    I had never fielded that request before. Communion ministers occasionally, yes. Once in a great while, even lectoring. Today’s couple would like their first task as wife and husband to be something meaningful, and helping to prepare the Eucharist seemed to be suitable in their thinking. I was really touched by this.

    I know people come with weak, mixed, or no motivations. But this weekend’s couple was not responsible for the mess left last weekend, nor the inappropriateness of last month’s couple, or last year’s crazy wedding. They may have come to the church for the flimsiest of reasons. I believe I must be as hospitable to them as I would be to Christ. It’s the only thing I can focus on. Not the n-thousand fewer weddings. Not the nutcases on WeddingTV.

  8. The number of church weddings in Boston plummeted after the abuse scandal broke. This isn’t coincidence, I believe. It’s cause and effect. We need to reckon with the fact that the clergy have lost a greater degree of credibility than they think, when facing the world outside their “inner circle” of devoted parishioners. People who are only marginally affiliated now look at every priest with suspicion as a possible sexual offender or an enabler. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. This isn’t fair, and it isn’t nice, but it’s a psychological reality. And when the connection to church isn’t strong to begin with, it can tip the scales.

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #8:

      In my 25 years of ordained ministry in the Lutheran church, I have seen a steady procession of couples come to me and my Lutheran colleagues because of the Roman Catholic church’s teachings on divorce and remarriage, or on cohabitation. One or the other is divorced, and the local priest would not marry them without an annulment. To many of them, the annulment process is seen as a lengthy, expensive exercise in illogic that has little to do with faithfulness. In cases of cohabitation, the stories I heard from these couples were that local priests could not find any sense of joy that the couple seeks to become married, but instead could only find words of condemnation and rejection.

      I don’t raise this to argue the merits of the Roman Catholic teachings on divorce or cohabitation prior to marriage, but rather to say that both these teachings and the way in which they have been presented have driven many couples away from the Roman Catholic Church. I sense that this is part of what lies behind the call from Pope Francis for the upcoming Synod.

      When you set this next to the dynamic and the perception of priests in the aftermath of the ongoing abuse scandal that you describe here, it’s a double whammy.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #11:
        Indeed.

        And re-reading the last two paragraph’s of the original post, I can hear some of these couples speaking, with a little rewording: “Frequently I hear liturgists and other academics couples ask the question: “Is modern humanity the Catholic priesthood capable of the liturgical act?” ”

        Nathan’s comment that “it should force us to reflect on ourselves, the Church, and the modern world” is spot-on. Sadly, there has been plenty of fingerpointing at the modern world and precious little self-reflection on the part of the church and its leadership.

        Earlier in the post, Nathan wrote “I get why people have become disenfranchised and frustrated with the Church. Unfortunately, their frustration with the institutional church has often led them to abandon the sacraments.” Respectfully, I disagree.

        In some cases, it has led to this abandonment, but in other cases, these couples take the sacraments so seriously they are unwilling to submit to what appears to them to be a legalistic flattening of the richness of sacramental life by their local priests and bishops. What should be vehicles of grace are presented to them as legalistic fingerwagging worthy of the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ day, and the couples are theologically astute enough to recognize the violence this does to sacramental life.

        The Roman Catholic church clergy will get nowhere with these folks — and their friends and their families — until the clergy are willing to concede that these couples are capable of engaging in meaningful and insightful theological discussions, rather than simply treating them as immature children.

        If what emerges from the Synod is a one-way “We clergy need to be better at explaining things,” then I suspect little will change from the perspective of these couples. It is like a tourist trying to converse in a foreign country by speaking his own language, and when it doesn’t work, he speaks more loudly.

    2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #9:
      My earlier comment was based on information shared with me by friends who are Boston pastors and who had themselves experienced a sharp downturn in the number of weddings in their parishes after the scandal broke.

      After reading my comment, a Pray Tell reader kindly shared with me some statistical research tables he had assembled concerning marriage statistics in the Archdiocese of Boston. The numbers in his chart show a more nuanced picture: there was a decline in the number of weddings in that diocese both before and after the scandal broke.

      The scandal broke in early 2002. Cardinal Law resigned that same year. Using the tables that were shared with me, I looked at the four years prior to and the four years following 2002. During the four years before 2002, there was a 21% decline in the number of weddings in Boston. Looking then at the years 2002-2006, I see that weddings in Boston experienced a 32% drop. That is a significant increase in my estimation.

      Based upon this info, I would like to nuance my earlier comment as follows: After the abuse scandal broke, the number of weddings in Boston, which were already in decline, fell even more sharply.

      I continue to find credible the suggestion of a linkage between the crisis and the decline in the number of weddings. However, the problem cannot be entirely based on this one indicator, because the numbers were falling already before 2002.

  9. Our parish is overflowing with weddings, and it feels like each year is double of the previous year. Random reasons why:
    — 1st (and foremost): A pastor who bends over backwards to welcome people into the church. He talks to couples in depth. Talks them out of civic weddings. Gets them excited about the social justice programs in our parish. Connects them with other parishioners, especially young adults. No one ever gets turned away for any reason.
    — Besides not turning away folks, find ways to accommodate and welcome the non-Catholic partners (90% of weddings; which I think is one major reason for the decline)
    — We have no Saturday evening vigil Mass, thus we can accommodate all wedding schedules.
    — Pretty church and convenient location.
    — A parish that’s already popular with young adults; And a parish, frankly, mostly run by young adults, so that those people who visit seeking out weddings are seeing other people like themselves.
    — Not so onerous requirements: don’t have to parishioners for X months; not so high of fees (very very very sliding scale, including $0 if at a Sunday Mass).
    — Welcoming pastor. (Did I mention that already?)

  10. Some excellent points here indeed. We certainly need more compassionate and joyful clergy. Better programs within parishes to support couples on the journey to marriage. I think we need to give up on the wedding only being allowed in a church building. Limit a wedding within Mass to a church, but a Liturgy of the Word could be celebrated elsewhere.

  11. In my experience I have seen two things:

    1) Getting married on a beach, outdoors, or in any other scenic venue is not an option anymore. Almost ironically, being in nature is almost makes a sacramental experience the goal. Some flexibility within a parochial territory would go a long way. Couples are just simply opting out.

    2) Getting married is incredibly hard when couples who have strayed from the church hope to come back. Instead of welcoming the new couple and seeing the reunion as a great opportunity to bring them back into the faith, they are judged for whatever state they approach the church in. A cohabiting couple, for example, may have it much easier if they simply got married civilly and then returned for a convalidation later. We must meet the couple where they are at and respond positively. It could go a long way.

  12. This scenario is similar to that in Australia. Francis reminds us that ‘ordinary pastoral ministry’ includes those who ‘seldom take part in worship’. (EG 14) This seems a timely reminder to all of us to re-evaluate whom we deem ‘faithful Catholics’. A great moment of evangelisation is lost if too much is expected of those who come asking pastors for services that include sacraments. Francis would assume these are the very ones we should all welcome with open arms of compassion rather than judgement.

  13. Soon I will attend the wedding of my niece, M.. During high school and college M. cantored at her parish and Newman Center and was actively engaged in youth and young adult groups. M. was asked by a lifelong friend to sing at her nuptial mass, which was to be held in the parish in which they grew up and where both families still attended. The celebrant was to be a visiting Benedictine priest, a professor at the Catholic college attended by the bride (Catholic) and groom (non-Catholic), who prepared them for marriage. When the sacristan found out that the groom was non-Catholic and that the priest was going to do a Mass, she called in the pastor who refused to allow the ceremony to take place unless the priest agreed to do only a Liturgy of the Word. He also promised to alert the bishop to this “problem” priest.
    Given the relationship of the priest to the couple, the bride to the parish community, the willingness and understanding of the groom to celebrate in a way that was most meaningful to his bride, this was a situation calling for a pastoral response, not some rigid application of a rule that is supposed to be about hospitality. The priest broke the news to the bride just before she walked down the aisle.
    My niece, who was in the sacristy watching this all unfurl, wrote a long, thoughtful letter to the bishop and pastor at my suggestion. She received nothing, not even an acknowledgment of her letter. Come the Labor Day weekend she will be be married in a civil ceremony on the campus of her undergrad university.

    When we are alienating even those of our young people who are faithful and connected to the church, is it any wonder we have fail to attract those who have other issues with us?

    1. @Julie Boerio-Goates – comment #17: In most ecumenical marriages, the non-Mass option is preferred. But my understanding is that if the non-Catholic partner has no objection to a Mass being celebrated, then it is OK to have the nuptial Mass.

    2. @Julie Boerio-Goates – comment #17:
      This fuss on the sacristan’s and pastor’s part is a fabrication, pure and simple. It is also a liturgical abuse of the most grave matter, to be reprobated. So to speak. A crude, but proper and understandable reaction would have been for the groomsmen to stuff the pastor in the parish dumpster for the duration of the ceremony. What are wedding attendants for, anyway?

      I have to admit stories like this bring a slow burn inside of me. It is the epitome of antigospel. Makes me want to call an exorcist.

      I think your niece got an answer: they were too ashamed to reply. Good for her.

      On the plus side, I have encountered a situation twice where the Catholic’s family really struggled with not having a Mass. I suggested that the Catholic family host a Mass of Thanksgiving (the regularly-scheduled daily Mass) on Friday or Saturday morning before the wedding at the parish, and invite the non-Catholic family to breakfast afterward. The presider might bless the couple, and the Eucharistic connection is made, though perhaps not in a totally traditional way.

      We need more creativity and sensitivity in this regard. Fewer rules. Fewer devils.

      As for the outdoor wedding, it’s a nightmare for musicians. But if an outdoor Mass is good enough for a pope …

  14. Julie Boerio-Goates’s niece and her fiancé deserves much better from the Church. Would that the new marriage rite were in effect; it says:

    29. The celebration itself of the Sacrament must be diligently prepared, as far as possible, with the engaged couple. Marriage should normally be celebrated within Mass. Nevertheless, with due regard both for the necessities of pastoral care and for the way in which the prospective spouses and those present participate in the life of the Church, the pastor should decide whether it would be preferable to propose that Marriage be celebrated within or without Mass.

    It is clear from Julie’s description that they have a right to a wedding Mass. The pastor can propose otherwise, but it is the choice of the couple.

    1. @Paul F Ford – comment #20:
      #18 – That was my understanding as well, and why I suggested my niece write the bishop. It is the pastoral practice in my Utah parish where many of our English-language marriages are between a Catholic and a non-Catholic.
      #19 – My brother is still doing a slow burn and moved to another parish. The question of creativity interests me because we celebrate many (sometimes 2 or 3) Spanish language weddings a week at peak times and it seems as though there is more flexibility in the Spanish liturgies. While cleaning out a sacristy storage area, I came across an old stand that used to be used for the wedding unity candle. While it’s not exactly my cup of tea, the idea behind the unity candle is not that different in nature and intent from the arras and lazo that are present in the Spanish liturgies.
      #20 – Is it possible to find online the new Order of Celebrating Matrimony? It is my understanding that it is not yet available for purchase. I’d like to see what changes are there.

      1. @Julie Boerio-Goates – comment #24:
        One issue would be that even if the translation is not approved, is the Rite in effect, particularly it’s praenotanda?

        Two, I have access to the document if you want to email me with questions.

        Three, your brother and niece are welcome to move to my town and parish. I can assure you they will get a warm welcome. We may not be perfect, but we try to keep the smell of sheep about us.

  15. I recall my wedding preparation being full of expensive red tape. The preparation class we took alone cost 120 dollars, and consisted of sitting on folding chairs for seven hours listening to a parade of speakers who rehashed everything the priest told us in our private meeting. I still remember the woman behind me wispering to her fiance that her butt was asleep.

    There also seemed to be great dissapointment that we were not having a large extravagant wedding that we couldn’t afford. I think a lot of people don’t get married in church if they want a small wedding because they are led to believe that church weddings are big costly events. We didn’t want to spend our new life together in debt. Most of my friends wanted and had small inexpensive weddings. It’s probably a bigger trend that destination weddings are. We spent less on our wedding than the average teenager spends on a prom dress.

    Also, I never understood why Mass can be celebrated outside or in a person’s home, but a wedding has to be in the church.

  16. IIRC, one of the reasons the church offered for medieval reforms requiring marriages to be celebrated in church was to require them to be publicly open to prevent clandestine and coerced bonds. Which were an issue…

  17. The bishops talk a lot about evangelization. We need to stop the DEevangelization mentioned in the horror stories above. Many couples came to a parish i formerly served at with stories of priests who refused a marriage because one of the couple had not been confirmed.
    When one couple I was preparing who wanted to be married elsewhere ran into this the wonderful bishop of Austin said if you think it appropriate confirm him tomorrow!

  18. I live in a parish where we welcome and celebrate infant/child baptisms at Sunday Mass, recognize and bless those preparing for Eucharist and Confirmation as growing in their spiritual lives among us, where funerals happen at the regularly scheduled daily Mass, where the RCIA is well-established and faith formation is clearly seen as OUR responsibility. We call out and bless abundantly those going away for school or jobs or service to other communities. We bless and congratulate long-wedded couples.

    I’m not surprised when couples ask if they can be married at a Sunday liturgy. It’s a no brainer for them and the community.

  19. The priest in #10 will set a stage for a married couple to walk down the aisle and have a greater possibility for the couple to show up at Mass when they get back from their honeymoon.

    The pastor in #17 has let that couple know if they return to Mass and parish participation after their wedding, that their relationship is not regular while not saying it directly.

    I think the Church should get out of the event planning business (as one pastor said “if we build a bigger hall, more couples will get married here”) and form a serious path of a marriage “catechumenate” and when a couple is ready to celebrate the Sacrament they come up to repeat their vows at a Sunday Mass and a little cake at coffee and donuts. The Sacrament remains intact in the Church’s eyes and couples can plan the “can I top the most recent wedding I went to” event of the year. I have been to Church weddings where I think we have been chosen because the backdrop really serves the YouTube video well.

    $15,000 for flowers and a $10 dollar (Bill Murray’s “hey how ’bout a little sumtin for da effort” from Caddyshack comes to mind) generous stipend for the priest lets us know how in many cases the Sacrament has been overrun by current culture wedding planners, consumer demands, and unmet expectations.

    The Church needs to meet the couple where they are and then let them know how welcome they are to express they desire to make their relationship an outward sign in the Church. This should make sense unless the Sacrament is only seen as a “permission granted” for sexual intercourse.

    That being said, it is a joy to attend a wedding where the couple has made the conscientious choice to back away from all the peer, MTV, and family pressure and use the liturgy, place, and themselves as a sign of their relationship with Christ.

  20. Shannon O’Donnell : I live in a parish where we welcome and celebrate infant/child baptisms at Sunday Mass, recognize and bless those preparing for Eucharist and Confirmation as growing in their spiritual lives among us, where funerals happen at the regularly scheduled daily Mass

    Nice idea but not necessarily very helpful. When my mother died, planning her funeral was a pain. The parish schedules funeral Masses at their regular 8:30am daily Mass. Since I knew friends and family would be coming from two hours away (or more since they’d be driving across Los Angeles during rush hour) it wasn’t practical to ask them to be there at 8:30. But that was the only time they offered. We finally waited to have the funeral on a Saturday when there was no daily Mass scheduled and we could arrange a later time.

    But what can you expect. The same parish balked when I asked about a vigil service. They said “maybe” they could send an EMHC to lead a rosary at the funeral home. But I wanted a vigil service. “We don’t have anyone available for that.” The parish had two priests and three deacons — could they at least ask if someone was available? No. A Jesuit friend of mine ended up leading a beautiful vigil service. But where was her parish when we needed them?

    And then you wonder why people decide to go outside the church for weddings and funerals? Too many headaches, even for a faithful Catholic.

    1. @Andrea Duda – comment #29:

      Any lay person can lead a vigil service. You could even have done it yourself. Doesn’t have to be a Minister of Communion or anything like that. The only thing you need a priest for is a Requiem Mass. In England and Wales we have a special book designed to give lay people all the materials they need.

      In times of diminishing and busy clergy, lay people need to get used to stepping up to the plate. If they don’t feel confident in doing so, the local Office for Worship can usually point them in the right direction or to a person who will help.

  21. Funny thing…I wasn’t in shape to lead anything at my mother’s funeral. And her parish flat out refused to help.

    Do you really think the bereaved should have to call the diocesan Office of Worship to get do-it-yourself instructions?

    1. @Andrea Duda – comment #31:
      This would another example of an authentic liturgical abuse. Funny how such a serious offense is not written into liturgical law, eh?

      You are right, Andrea. Grieving family members should not have to do their own vigil. My sense from your tale is that your parish’s two priests and three deacons should be laicized. This can’t be the first incident. It shows a shocking lack of liturgical formation. And don’t even go pastoral.

      I would guess that the seminary they came from should also be investigated–oh wait–that happened already didn’t it? Looking for gay men, I gather. Good that your Jesuit friend was available. If Paul or I had been walking up the street, doubtless we could have covered it too.

    2. @Andrea Duda – comment #31:

      No, I was thinking more that the OforW could direct you to someone who could help by leading the vigil for you. But in the last resort, it’s your vigil, not the clergy’s.

  22. @Andrea #29–

    I’m sorry you faced such obstacles when your mother died. That’s hellacious.

    My parish’s weekday liturgy is at 12:10pm, usually a good time for a funeral. Weekday liturgies are either Mass or Word and Communion, and there is a team of trained lay presiders who can and do preside at Vigil services. So much of this can and does happen because the pastoral staff, including the pastor, are not afraid to share leadership. No one labors under the presumption that it all rests on an individual.

    I’m thinking you wouldn’t be surprised to know it is a Jesuit parish.

  23. Thanks, all, for your comments. And just to clarify, it wasn’t my parish that refused, it was the parish my mother had belonged to for 50 years.

  24. Andrea, your shabby treatment by officials at your mother’s parish is indefensible. The idea that funeral masses must take place at the daily Mass is scandalous. In my parish the daily mass goers are invited to participate in the funeral at the time arranged with the family. We always get a great enough participation to make a big difference at funerals attended by few practicing Catholics.

  25. In our cathedral funerals always take place at one of the daily Masses — but it’s at 12:15, so no problem for people to get to. So I don’t think it’s the idea itself that’s scandalous but the inflexibility regarding timing.

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