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February 12, 2017

Last week when I was visiting in the hospital, a man mentioned to me that a lady who was a Catholic, was excommunicated, according to her family, because of her marriage to a protestant!  I said that I would come to see her and the man warned me that her family was not a “Catholic fan” and she didn’t wish to see a Catholic priest.  I checked her room number then I prayed a little prayer and walked up to her floor.

There were some people in her room.  I passed by once, twice, and the third time I entered.  I introduced myself if I could have a visit.  I did not recognize any of five people in the room.  The family members went out to give us some privacy.  She told me her life story and the burden she had carried for over 50 years.  At one point in her life, she joined the sisters at a convent in Medicine Hat.  It didn’t work out.  Then she married a protestant and understood that she was excommunicated!  I explained to her that the excommunication never took place and once she was baptized Catholic she is always Catholic.

A warm conversation continued for a few more minutes then I called her family in.  We prayed together.  I noticed that they made the sign of the cross, a trade mark of Catholics, I knew their Catholic faith was still in their hearts.  I offered my new friend a general absolution and Sacrament of Anointing.  The family expected the lady to be transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospice and promised to keep in touch with me.

Well, she died 2 days later and I only knew when I saw her obituary in the paper.  I didn’t have the honor to celebrate her funeral either, but who cares as long as she was at peace with God!

I told you this story because I want you to know that the Church did not, does not and will not excommunicate you if you marry a “protestant.”  Last year we had 10 weddings in our parish.  There were only 2 couples with both parties being Catholic.  The rest were mixed religion weddings.  Catholics are required to get married in the Catholic Church.  Every Catholic wedding has to go through some paperwork and some preparation.  You cannot come to the office, showing your marriage license, and say that you want to get married next week.  Maybe only the Catholic Church (and Orthodox) was, is and will be considering marriage as a Sacrament and a sacred union.

In a few paragraphs I cannot say much about the sanctity of marriage but one thing I want you to know, that the Church cares for you even if you got married outside of the Church, or you were divorced and re-married without permission from the Church.  The Church wants you to be happy here and now.  I don’t want you to carry any burden in your heart.  Come and talk to me.