MARRIAGE IS A VOCATION AND A SACRAMENT
The Catholic Church takes marriage very seriously. For us it as a special vocation and a Sacrament. We believe that a person is ‘called’ by God to marriage, in the same way that we think of a person being ‘called’ by God to the Sacred Ministry (as a Priest or Deacon and making various promises, including for most a vow of celibacy and for all a vow of obedience to his Bishop) or to the Religious Life (entering a Religious Order or Community and taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience) or, indeed, to the single life in the world. So, in a special way, each of you must ask yourself whether it is God’s call to you that you consecrate yourself to the married life and, in particular, to the married life with the person with whom you are entering this ‘holy estate of matrimony’.
As every Catholic knows, a Sacrament is ‘means of grace’. While each of the seven Sacraments is quite different from the others, each requires a ‘minister’, the ‘matter’, the ‘form’ and, of course, the recipient. Thus, in Baptism, we have a minister (who is usually a cleric but may be a layperson), the ‘pure water’, the form of the pouring of the water with the words ‘I baptise you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’, and the unbaptised baby or adult. Likewise, in the Holy Eucharist, we have a properly ordained priest, we have the bread and the wine, we have the prayer of consecration, and we have the recipients, first, the priest himself, and then any other communicants.
Each of the Sacrament conveys a ‘grace’, that is, the power and the love of God, which is directed towards increasing the life of God in each one of us, together with the special grace appropriate to the particular Sacrament. Thus, in Baptism (and later in Confirmation), the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and we receive the forgiveness of sins and incorporation into the mystical Body of Christ at the beginning of our Christian life. In Holy Communion, we receive the Body and the Blood of the Lord – His life within us, as we continue our life as a Baptised person. In Penance, we receive the forgiveness of particular sins, especially those which have caused us to seriously fall away from our life in Christ. The Anointing of the Sick is a Sacrament of healing, of body, mind, and spirit, where we are given the spiritual strength to live through the experience of our physical frailty and, ultimately, to face up to our mortality. In the Sacrament of Orders, men called by God to exercise the Sacred Ministry are given the authority and power to teach the Word of God, to administer the Sacraments, and to shepherd the Church, as they continue his ministry in the world as our Prophet, Priest, and King.
In marriage, the ‘ministers’ are the husband and wife. The ‘form’ of the Sacrament is the vow made between each of them to enter into a relationship which is exclusive, permanent, and open to new life, where each is committed to the good of the other other and to the formation of a community of life and love. The ‘matter’ of the sacrament is the living out of this vow, through good times and bad, through changing circumstances of work and leisure, with all the joys and challenges of children, the sacrifices and the compromises, but above all, the constant little acts of loving kindness and thoughtfulness ensure that over the years a deep and abiding love and a sense of fulfilment as the husband and wife each looks back over the years and gives thanks to God for each other. Thus, in a Christian marriage, there is growth towards human maturity and wisdom and an understand of God revealed in daily life – these are the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage.
APPLICATION TO MARRY AT ST AUGUSTINE’S CHURCH
It is best that you apply to be married at St Augustine’s six to twelve months before the date you plan to have the wedding. The first thing to do is to contact the Parish Office in person, by telephone, or by email, to find out which procedure you should follow.
Generally, weddings are conducted in St Augustine’s by the Parish Priest but it is possible for you to have a wedding here conducted by another priest (a ‘visiting priest’). In that case, the visiting priest must take full responsibility for the civil and ecclesiastical preparation and conduct of the wedding. We will not accept a booking for the use of the Church until we have received a letter from your chosen priest taking responsibility for everything connected with the celebration of the marriage.
Otherwise, when you contact the Parish Office, you should make an appointment to see the Parish Priest. You will also be given or sent an Application form which you should fill in and either return to the Office or bring to your meeting with the Priest.
At the meeting with the Priest, the first issue will be your eligibility to marry in the Catholic Church. A marriage ceremony is a Catholic Church is both a civil and ecclesiastical matter. A priest is an authorised marriage celebrant under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and so must ensure that the requirements of the civil law are fulfilled. Various forms will have to be filled out and you will need to provide proof of your birth, identity, and age, and, if necessary, marital status. Usually a valid passport contains all the necessary information.
Likewise under the canon law of the Church, the priest must ascertain that he can marry you and you are both free to marry. At least one of you must be a baptised Catholic. If either or both of you has or have been married before and your previous partner is still living, it will be necessary to determine whether you a free to marry according to the law of the Church. Again, various forms will have to be filled out and you will need to obtain a fresh certificate of your Baptism for the Church where you were baptised.
BOOKING THE CHURCH
A booking of the church for your wedding will not be accepted before your initial meeting with the Priest. You may, of course, check with the Parish Office if the Church is available on your preferred date and time.
Marriages on a Saturday are between 11.00am and 3.30pm, with a latest start time of 2.00pm. Other times may be available. Weddings on Sundays are not encouraged.
There is no requirement for any payment of a fee to the priest or the parish but donations are greatly appreciated. Any gift to the Priest goes to the Pastoral Revenue Fund of the Archdiocese, which is administered by the clergy and provides for the support of them all, active and retired. Any gift to the Parish goes to its ongoing administrative and maintenance costs. The Parish Office or the Priest will have further details of how this can be done, including the possibility of a tax deductible gift to our building fund which covers the maintenance and renovation of our church, hall, and presbytery.
It may be possible to book the Parish Hall for an after-service function. Please contact the Parish Office for further information about the booking.
FURTHER NOTES ON DOCUMENTATION
To be married in Australia, the Australian Government requires a certified copy of the full birth certificate plus some kind of proof of identity or a current passport (whether Australian or overseas). Most people find it convenient to produce their current passport.
The Church requires a recent copy of the baptismal certificate issued within six months prior to the intended marriage for each party, including those baptised in another Christian denomination. This is best obtained by writing to the parish in which you were baptised.
Other documentation may be required in unusual circumstances. The Priest will inform you of this at the time of the initial interview.
Please note that in Australia the Notice of Intended Marriage must be signed and completed no earlier than 18 months and no later than one month before the wedding.
The Church and the Government recognise the importance of a thorough and successful marriage preparation and have designed a program so that couples prepare well for the their marriage.
We recommend CatholicCare who offer several courses on Marriage. People who have attended previously have found these courses very helpful in raising issues, sometimes for the first time, and giving themselves time for deeper communication. All these things build a firm foundation for a happy marriage.
For more information or to book, please phone 1300 881 570 or go to their website: http://www.sydneycatholic.org/marriage/marriage_preparation.shtml
It is essential to book early, as these courses are very popular and can be fully booked months in advance.
You are free to make musical arrangements for your wedding in consultation with the Priest. The use of recorded music during the liturgy of the Church is contrary to the liturgical law. Accordingly, the use of recorded music will not be permitted.
The church has a splendid pipe organ that can be made available for appropriate organists for a suitable fee.
You may like to use our musicians:
- Stan & Monika Kornell – organ & violin, contacted on: 0410 486 236
- Janice Boyle – organ, contacted on: 0408 697 297
- A Women’s choir, contacted on: 0412 607 714.
NO CONFETTI OR RICE or any other materials may be thrown in or around the Church. The use of confetti, etc, is now regarded as littering if it is thrown onto footpaths or roadways. As we are unable to clean the area before scheduled Masses, it is quite hazardous for the elderly, sick and children in our community.
Couples are free to organise photography to suit their needs at St Augustine’s.
The arrangement of flowers will be up to the bride and groom to organise. Occasionally there is more than one wedding on a weekend. On these occasions, why not liaise with the other couples when making choices and sharing flower arrangements? This can be done with the help of the Parish Office, who will provide you with the phone numbers of other couples sharing your weekend (with their permission, of course).
Couples are encouraged to leave some of their floral arrangements in the Church for the community to enjoy. However, if the flowers are not to stay in the Church, couples are asked to arrange a tidy up of the Church immediately after the ceremony.
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Obviously, it is not possible to plan anything with certainty in the near future, but subject to the uncertainties of the pandemic and government regulations, there is no reason why weddings some time in the future should not be planned and prepared for now.