Customs and Traditions

Inadvertently Started a Holy War (of sorts)...

This post is mainly to vent a little, but I also really want to know how this situation looks to people who aren't involved in it, since everyone involved is probably a little too biased to admit, well, anything. A few bits of info to preface the story: both my FH and I are Catholic; he is white and from California; I am Filipino and from Chicago; the wedding is going to be in Chicago in just under 3 weeks now; we are celebrating with a full Catholic Mass and incorporating some Filipino wedding traditions.

When we started planning our wedding a little over a year ago, we knew basically from day 1 that we wanted a close family priest friend (Fr. J) of my FH to officiate the wedding. Fr. J isn't Filipino, but we've prepped him about the few elements we're adding that are going to be different. Fast-forward about 10 months to when we send out invites. Among the invitees is one of my dad's friends from his hometown in the Philippines who now lives in Chicago and happens to be a priest (Fr. C). When Fr. C sent his reply card about a month before the wedding, he wrote a note on the bottom: "Congratulations to you both! Would it be all right if I co-celebrate the Mass?" [For non-Catholics, that means have 2 priests officiate the ceremony.]

While we are honored and flattered that Fr. C would offer, for a variety of reasons, we do not want 2 priests to officiate the wedding. At the top is the fact that we had been planning for almost a year to have Fr. J do it--and Fr. J would be flying into Chicago from San Diego just to do the wedding. Also, because Fr. J is a visitor to my parish, a parish deacon is required to help out with the ceremony. 2 priests and a deacon to officiate our ceremony really just seems like overkill. Finally, given that just about everything else regarding the wedding is what I wanted--my hometown, my parish, etc.--having Fr. J officiate the ceremony was really the one personal element my FH has in the wedding, and it really means a lot to him to have Fr. J do it. And while Fr. C is a friend of my dad's, I honestly don't know him that well, and having him involved in the ceremony just wouldn't mean as much to me as Fr. J does to my FH. However, my parents, esp. my dad, were pushing us to let Fr. C co-celebrate, at least "just the Filipino part." The reason, according to my dad, is because he can't say no to a priest. If a priest offers his services, how can you say no to letting him do God's work? (I'm almost directly quoting here.) In my parents' view, it would be no big deal, and they didn't see splitting the ceremony as stepping on anyone's toes.

We decided to talk to Fr. C anyway and tell him thank you, but no thank you. We also told him that we still want him to be a part of our day and attend, and we would be honored if he would say the blessing before dinner. His tone and his words were very understanding--he understood, he didn't want to impose, he understands we'd been planning it this way for a year, etc. However, right at the end of the conversation, he says something along the lines of, "I'll leave you alone on your family day, and just stop by the family house afterwards"--which would seem to indicate that he no longer was planning to attend at all. We again emphasized that we still want him to attend and to give a blessing, but the conversation basically ended with us having no idea if he still plans to come to the wedding or not.

My parents currently think we're being incredibly selfish and that we should still just call him up and let him do it. (The wedding is now 19 days away.) I personally think Fr. C is being a little selfish if he intends not to attend the wedding because of this. I wonder if he misunderstood being invited to the wedding as a tacit invitation to officiate, and now he thinks we're backtracking. If that's the case, I'm certainly sorry for the confusion, but as far as I can tell we did nothing to indicate that we intended for him to play an official role in the ceremony, since we sent him the same invitation as everyone else. My parents and even my brother are telling me it's because I'm telling the priest that he's not allowed to practice his vocation that he's not coming. And while I certainly respect and honor priests in a special way (for Heaven's sake, the best man is a seminarian!), I do not see what we did as the same as turning down God. I see it as Fr. C offered his help, but we happened to have that covered already. If one of my dad's close friends was a florist, and a month before the wedding offered to do the flowers, would they be expecting us to overturn all the things we'd previously planned to accommodate this offer? I'm guessing probably not.

I guess I want to know how other people would have reacted in these circumstances. Should we have just let him do it?
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