Advertisements ad

January 18, 2009

Ten civil marriages become ‘sacramentalized’

By Joyce Duriga


We always wanted to do it.” That was the feeling of several of the 10 couples who had their marriages validated by the Catholic Church during Mass at Nativity of Our Lord Parish, 653 W. 37th St., on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve and the vigil of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The New Year was a time of new beginnings in the sacrament of marriage as they stood before the congregation exchanged vows, had their rings blessed and received a nuptial blessing.

The couples were all previously married civilly and had more than 150 years of marriage between them as they stepped to the altar.

This was a time when what “was a contract becomes a covenant,” Nativity’s pastor Father Dan Brandt told the couples and congregation. “Now tonight we gather in God’s name to sacramentalize this contract.”

“We always wanted to renew our vows in church,” said Maria Aguinaga, who has been married to her husband John for 19 years.

“It’s one of the sacraments and that’s the big thing,” said John Aguinaga. John credits Brandt for bringing him back to church recently after a bout with depression landed him in the hospital.

“If it weren’t for Father Brandt we wouldn’t be here,” John said.

Maria said coming back to church has brought her family closer. “We think positive now rather than negative,” she said.

Group validation

Brandt came up with the idea for the group validation after Father Ron Mass at Incarnation Parish in Palos Heights conducted one during the summer.

Over the last year Brandt has validated about six individual marriages. “Instead of doing these one by one I thought I’d get them together for a group ceremony,” he said.

The parish ran advertisements in the local newspaper and placed information in Nativity’s bulletin inviting Catholic couples not married in the church to consider getting married in the church.

Vicki and John Jackawiak who attend nearby Santa Lucia-Santa Maria Incoronata Parish, saw the newspaper ad and contacted Brandt. The Jackawiaks married 15 years ago in a ceremony at the Daley Center.

Timing prohibited them from marrying in the church but they planned to do it at some point, they said. “We just never got around to do it,” Vicki Jackowiak said.

Getting to the altar

To receive the validation, the couples produced baptismal certificates and witness affidavits saying they were free to marry and filled out some paperwork. Frank Hannigan, director of the archdiocesan Family Ministries Office, also came to Nativity to give a workshop to the couples beforehand telling them about the three people involved in marriage: the man, the woman and Christ.

There are many reasons why couples choose not to be married in the church, Brandt said. For some, it’s timing. Some are awaiting annulments or misunderstand church law on marriage and divorce. And some just don’t want all of the fuss they think comes with a church wedding, he said.

But having a marriage validated in the church benefits the couple’s souls, Brandt said.

“Sacraments are a moment of grace. Catholic Christians rely on grace. It’s our oxygen,” the pastor said. “If we’re living out a marriage contract, why not receive the grace to live that contract out?

“Any of these couples could teach a pre-cana class as far as living together … in union as husband and wife,” he said. “The blessing of God on your marriage — that hopefully continues to make your love for each other stronger.”