Q. My daughter is a Catholic and has received all of her sacraments, up to and including confirmation. She is engaged to a young man who is Presbyterian. They are scheduled to get married in a nondenominational church with a Catholic priest presiding. They are not planning on having a Mass with holy Communion, but several scriptural passages will be read. They are attending pre-Cana classes at the local Catholic parish. Her fiance is not intending to convert to Catholicism. My question, after all of that background, is this: Will my daughter still receive the sacrament of matrimony without a full Mass and Communion? (Newport News, Virginia)
A. Assuming that the Catholic priest receives the required permissions from his diocese, your daughter will certainly receive the sacrament of matrimony under the circumstances you describe. When a Catholic marries a baptized non-Catholic (e.g., a Presbyterian) in a Catholic wedding ceremony, the church teaches that each spouse receives the sacrament of marriage. It is not required that the Eucharist be celebrated.
In fact, I usually recommend to a couple in a mixed marriage that they do a ceremony only (scriptural readings, vows, exchange of rings, nuptial blessing) without a Mass, and this is the reason: A wedding ceremony, in my mind, should highlight what unites a couple; it should not be the occasion for awkwardness over postures at Mass or dissatisfaction over not being permitted to take Communion.
But in light of the obligation of Catholics to participate in Sunday Eucharist, at a “destination wedding” I have added to the weekend’s events a Mass — offered in a meeting room of the hotel where the wedding guests are staying.
Q. My sister died last week after a long and painful illness. For many years, she found great comfort in attending services at the parish we grew up in, although in recent years her illness prevented her from going to church.
Her son attends when he is able; he has a physical disability. A new priest was appointed to the parish fairly recently. When I called to make funeral arrangements, he said that my sister was not a parishioner but that the funeral Mass could still be celebrated there.
The day before the funeral (after the arrangements had all been made), I learned that the charges for the church’s services would total $700. Two items were listed on the invoice: the choir fee and the hospitality fee.
We had visitation hours before the funeral Mass, during which a private room was provided for the family, along with a few refreshments. I have asked other practicing Catholics about the fee, and they all seem to think it was exorbitant. Thanks for any input you can provide. (City withheld)
A. I think I agree with your friends — $700 sounds high to me. The wild card is the “choir fee.” I have no idea what that involved; but unless it was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I don’t know how you reach $700, even adding a stipend for the organist, maintenance and set-up for the wake and funeral, as well as refreshments for the family during the hours of visitation.
In our parish, the fee for a funeral Mass is $125 (for a parishioner or anyone else), and that amount represents a complete pass-through to the organist for her services. (On occasion, the family of the deceased offers an additional donation for the priest-celebrant, but that is neither asked for nor expected.)
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 40 Hopewell St. Albany, N.Y. 12208.