Catholic Weddings

anyone not do pre cana?

My fiance and I are both Catholic. We aren't getting married at our church bc it is far from our reception. Instead we are getting married at a church both parents belonged to growing up.

Our wedding is 10/13 of this year and we met w the priest in this past October for a couple hours. He said we didn't have to do pre cana. For some reason now I'm worrying about that and it making our wedding not be recognized by the church. Am I being crazy? This priest is a bit of a character.... He just penciled us in, we got nothing in writing besides a book to plan our ceremony, and he won't do a full mass.

I keep googling pre cana and it makes it sound like a must.

Re: anyone not do pre cana?

  • Does this priest assume you are doing your marriage prep with the priest at *your* church?
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  • Every diocese requires some sort of pre-marital preparation. Sometimes priests don't enforce aspects of it. I would just do something on your own anyway, even if its not required. Then you are covered in case he lets something fall through. It can't hurt, and it definitely can be beneficial to you. 


  • I agree with Agape.  So many girls (me included) on here have said that even though they'd known their FI/H for YEARS prior to getting married, their marriage preparation was a great experience for the couple!  I certainly wouldn't miss it.

    Added bonus: Don't know about where you live, but in Texas, the marriage license fee is reduced to about $13 if you have a certificate from an approved pre-marriage counseling session.
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  • Like others have said, even if you don't *have* to do it, I would still do it. Pretty much everyone that goes to something like that just talks about how great it was and how it strengthened their relationship and brought up things they needed to talk about.
    Anniversary
  • I would also call the church office just to double check that nothing is required, and maybe the diocese as well. We were told repeatedly that we did not have to take the FOCCUS, but then it turned out we did and we were scrambling for it last minute.
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  • Thanks everyone. We are just outside of Boston if it matters. When I asked about where to do it he said flat out we didn't have to, with the wave of his hand - so he definitely didn't think we were doing it w/ our home church.

    We are going to that church this w/e for a memorial service so I will see if I can talk to him. We went to that church one other time since we've been engaged for mass and I don't think he recognized us even though we tried to talk to him after mass.

    It is something I was looking forward to doing when we got engaged, but now time is flying by and we have other weddings and stuff this summer, money is tight, yada yada. I can't believe it is only 4 mos away, I feel like I need more time. I will try and see if I can find something. Are FOCCUS and pre cana usually covered in the same class?
  • Usually the FOCCUS is done with either your priest, deacon or a mentor couple so that you and your fiance can discuss the results with them in a more one-on-one setting. 

    Pre cana is typically more of a group retreat setting and varies by diocese... definitely still well worth the expense and time in my experience (my husband and I had already been dating for almost 4yrs by the time we went on our retreat)!  Call your diocese and see if there are any open weekends. 

    If that doesn't work out, see if you could find another parish with mentor couples that assist with marriage preparation because they could guide you through a FOCCUS or PREPARE inventory and talk things over with you on a more flexible schedule during your last busy months.  They're usually volunteers and parishes don't usually charge for marriage prep... but a thank-you gift is always a nice gesture!
  • Drats.... looking up the marriage prep stuff from the Bostoncatholic website and they are really tough to get to.  The weeknight ones are all pretty far away (and we live in the middle of where we each work - I commute an hour east of us and he commutes 40 mins west.).

    There are some weekend ones but we have a wedding one weekend, our epics the next, and my shower the next.  Cry I just have a feeling of dread surrounding the ceremony.

  • Every diocese is different, but you are getting married in about a year and 3 months, so even if the classes they have posted now won't work, they may have new ones for the beginning of the year.

    Ours required we go to pre cana. We actually did or FOCCUS at our first pre cana class. I think we had 5 or 6 weeks of classes that ran about 2 hours. We enjoyed it and were sad when we realized we never got any contact info from the couples in our group. We all really got along. One woman did find me on fb though, so that was nice.

    I would try to get in touch with the church you are getting married at. They may have slightly different requirements. If you can't talk to the priest, the church rectory should have an answer to that.
  • I have heard of some people doing their marriage prep via Skype, so I'm fairly certain you could work something out!  Good luck!
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  • TheSlowskysTheSlowskys member
    500 Comments
    edited June 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_anyone-not-do-pre-cana?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:04505f40-edaa-467c-9fb1-878a8748279ePost:1ced9f86-a389-41db-9324-be1dfb7658e4">Re: anyone not do pre cana?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Every diocese is different, but you are getting married in about a year and 3 months, so even if the classes they have posted now won't work, they may have new ones for the beginning of the year. Ours required we go to pre cana. We actually did or FOCCUS at our first pre cana class. I think we had 5 or 6 weeks of classes that ran about 2 hours. We enjoyed it and were sad when we realized we never got any contact info from the couples in our group. We all really got along. One woman did find me on fb though, so that was nice. I would try to get in touch with the church you are getting married at. They may have slightly different requirements. If you can't talk to the priest, the church rectory should have an answer to that.
    Posted by futuremrsbruno[/QUOTE]
    No 10/13 of this year!!! (so 10/13/12!).

    when I call the church I get the priest (there is minimal staff).  Who promptly hurries me off the phone. I think I have to corner him this weekend!
  • kcanakcana member
    First Comment
    My job is marriage prep and I hate to hear that a priest is recommending you not do it. Studies show that couples with marriage preparation do better in their first years of marriage!

    Most dioceses have a recommended marriage prep policy but the ultimate decision for what is required is up to the priest.

    You can still do more marriage prep, though, even if it's not required. We have an online Catholic Marriage Prep Class with a premarital inventory for our couples separated by distance, as well as the traditional one day PreCanas, or some parishes have their own preparation.

    You really are smart to think marriage prep is important!
  • He just penciled us in, we got nothing in writing besides a book to plan our ceremony, and he won't do a full mass.

    honestly, i am more troubled by this than the lack of pre-cana.  as two catholics, you should be allowed to have a mass if you want one.
  • That makes me so sad.
    Both the fact that he keeps brushing you off, but also that he is taking your marriage preparation so lightly! :-(
    Anniversary
  • H and I traveled 8 hours (round trip) to participate in a Catholic Engaged Encoutner weekend in a diocese in a neighboring state on the recommendation of our priest, because our diocese's Family Life office's Pre-Cana program wasn't very strong.  We had such a positive experience!  I liked that, with a weekend away at a retreat center, we could focus totally on the process and how the Holy Spirit was guiding us without distractions of what was giong on in our life later that day.

    I can't say anything against Pre-Cana since I haven't experienced it, but I do highly recommend EE.  Either is considered acceptable in most places should you end up having to fulfill a requirement after all.  Couples at our EE were planning weddings any where from 2 weeks (eek!) to a year away, though most were in the next 2-4 months.

    Here's a link to the Boston EE site.  It looks like they offer two locations.  Maybe one of these weekends will be more convenient for you: http://www.bostonengagedencounter.org/

    This may or may not be addressed in whatever pre-marital preparation you do, but I'd also encouage you to look into learning Natural Family Planning, which is a requirement in at least some dioceses.  The ladies on this board are a great source of information and experience about various methods.

    Blessings & best wishes!
    "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isaiah 43:1)
  • I would attend Pre Cana regardless. My fiance and I felt throughout the Pre Cana weekend that they hadn't covered anything we hadn't already discussed at length between ourselves... Until they brought up the topic of caring for your parents when they become old/ill.  This ended up being relevant to us immediately, and the timing seemed perfect, as we went to vist my parents at the end of the Pre Cana weekend and my father told us he has cancer!  We would not have been quite as equipped for that conversation had it not come up over the weekend.  Even if you think you won't get anything out of it, some part of it will become relevant at some point in time. 

    PS - Dad has a great prognosis and should be fine. :)
  • Our situation is really unusual in that we're obtaining 2 dispensations so we can be married outside the Roman Catholic Church. We're doing about 9 hours of preparation 2-on-1 with the Anglican clergyman of the church where we will marry.

    The Roman Catholic Priest we're working with for the dispensations hoped we would not have to do more with the Roman Catholic Church because it becomes too much. We live about 30 miles apart and I work even further from the relevant Roman Catholic Church. Anything weekdays would be impossible for me to attend, and weekends could interfere with my Sunday Obligation.

    The Roman Catholic Priest did have us take the FOCCUS test. We took it online at home after doing initial paperwork with him.
  • We did our EE weekend at the Espousal center in Waltham, MA and loved it- cost is not too bad, it's Saturday night and all day Sunday, and you don't have to stay over. They don't like to turn couples away, so they tend to put people in at the last minute if you're desperate, even if they're "full"
  • You guys have been really helpful, thank you.  I was looking at the Espousal Center in Waltham, but that was the one where literally every weekend it was offered we had a commitment on one day or the other.  The Engaged Encounter is definitely an option but it is kind of pricey ($275 v the $130 for the Espousal Center).

    I was disappointed about not having a full mass as well.  He said the ceremony was only about 20 mins long... which I was shocked about.  Foremost, it is important to us. Secondly, we do have a bit of a gap (reception is only 3-4 miles away, and cocktail hour starts at 4). He said the latest we could get married was 1 pm b/c of the mass schedule, but the afternoon mass isnt until 4.  We aren't planning on bringing in any decorations besides some pew bows so I have no idea why he won't let us have it later.

    Since our church which would have been really inconvenient for our guests, we felt like our only options were to get married at this church which has a lot of family history and compromise on the ceremony and time, or to get married at a random church we'd never been to.

    I don't mean to be complaining about the priest, but thanks for letting me vent.
  • I feel like you should be able to insist that you have a mass if that is important to you.  Or at least ask him why he doesn't think a full mass is appropriate.

    As for the time, that makes sense.  Our wedding was at 2 and evening mass was at 5.  They told us we could go ahead and stay however long we needed, but they wanted us cleared out by about 3:30 or so.
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  • No, it's ok. 
    First of all, I think it's pretty standard for there to be 2-3  hours from the beginning of the wedding to the beginning of the evening Mass; that's not unusual. They build in extra time in case the wedding doesnt start on time (someone is stuck in traffic, etc,) people taking lots of pictures afterwards, even if you're not bringing in decorations, then someone is still going to need to go through the pews and "tidy up," (pick up used tissues, programs, put hymnals back in place, etc.) In some churches confessions start an hour before Mass, etc.
    But you DO have a right to a full Mass, if you are both Catholic. I'm not sure what steps to recommend, especially since it sounds like the priest is realy blowing you off so far, but don't feel bad asking, or even demanding it!
    Anniversary
  • While I agree that if you are both catholic and want a mass for your wedding, you should be able to, and this request should not be blown off.

    You CAN NOT go as far as "demanding" it. 

    For many reasons, but one being there are canonical restrictions on how many masses a priest can preside at in one day. 
  • Well, if you can't demand the Mass, then you most certainly can demand the reasons why not.
    Anniversary
  • I was looking at the Espousal Center in Waltham, but that was the one where literally every weekend it was offered we had a commitment on one day or the other. 

    sorry if this seems snarky, but it sounds like you need to prioritize.  not sure what commitments you have, but your precana is more important than a shower, birthday party, trip, etc. that you may have on these weekends.

    a friend of mine did the Espousal Center program and loved it. 

    is there anyway you can change your reception location so that you can book your regular church?  really, the reception should have been booked around the church adn ceremony, nto the ohter way around.  given that your wedding is this fall, this is probably too late, but it sounds like youd have an easier time with your own priest and church.
  • Check with the parish that you attend.  My fiance lives in Pittsburgh and I'm in Buffalo so my parish's Tuesday night programs won't work for us.  However, we were presented with the option of doing a sort of "independent study" with the couples who lead the marriage prep programs. 

    There are often weekend retreats as well.

    And, if all of that fails, there are even online programs that have been approved by various dioceses.

    Additionally. http://foryourmarriage.org/, maintained by the USCCB has a lot of great resources!
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