Catholic Marriages in Oxford Colleges and at the Catholic Chaplaincy

Many Catholic members of the University like to get married in Oxford, occasionally at the Chaplaincy or (much more usually) at their College. In each case, the team at the Chaplaincy is available to help with advice about the steps you need to take, and to help make sure that, if you need a Catholic priest for the service, one is available. The process can be complicated but we will support you as far as possible. Here are some of the key questions to be asking yourselves, with answers below…

If you have further questions, please contact Fr William Pearsall: wpearsallsj@jesuit.org.uk.

 

1] Where do I do the marriage preparation and documentation?
2] Whom do I need to get in touch with if I want a Catholic marriage in one of the College Chapels?
3] Do I need to have a civil wedding before the Church wedding?
4] Where can I get information about the marriage licence and civil weddings?
5] Do I need to ask special permission from the Catholic Church to be married in a College Chapel?
6] There is a priest we know who we’d like to do the wedding. Is that possible?
7] What if my partner is not Catholic?
8] Supposing there are important pastoral reasons why we want to be married according to the Anglican Rite?
9] We got married in Oxford without going through any of the Church formalities, but now want our marriage to be recognised in the eyes of the Church. Is this possible?
10] What documentation do I need for the meeting with my Parish Priest?
11] What happens to all the documentation?

1] Where do I do the marriage preparation and documentation?

If you are resident in Oxford, here at the Chaplaincy.
If you are not resident in Oxford, at your home parish.

2] Whom do I need to get in touch with if I want a Catholic marriage in one of the College chapels?

1. Your local parish priest (for the preparation programme and the documentation).
2. The Chaplain of the College in question.
3. The Catholic Chaplaincy.
4. Your local registry office for a marriage licence, at least two weeks before the wedding (in every case).
5. The registry office (usually in Oxford) to arrange a civil wedding before the Catholic service in the College.

3] Do I need to have a civil wedding before the Church wedding?

If you are being married according to the Roman Catholic Rite in a College chapel, you must have a civil wedding beforehand at a registry office.

NB You do not need to go through a civil wedding ceremony
a) if you are being married according to the Anglican Rite by the authorised person (usually the chaplain) in your College OR
b) if you are being married at the Catholic Chaplaincy itself or another Catholic parish Church

4] Where can I get information about the marriage licence and civil weddings?

See website www.oxfordshire.gov.uk.

5] Do I need to ask special permission from the Catholic Church to be married in a College Chapel?

Yes, but is usually given. When you fill out the marriage form with your priest and talk about the place of the marriage, your priest will include a request for permission for the marriage to take place outside a Catholic Church; this permission will then normally be granted by the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

6] There is a priest we know who we’d like to do the wedding. Is that possible?

Certainly. But when you get in touch with the Chaplaincy, please let us know his name and we can officially ‘delegate’ him.

7] What if my partner is not Catholic?

This need not be a problem. When you fill out the marriage form with your Parish Priest, he will make any necessary requests for permissions. Assuming permission is given, by the Chancellor of your home diocese, the marriage will be valid in the eyes of the Church.

If your partner is a baptised Christian, but not a Catholic, you will need a permission for a ‘mixed marriage’.
If your partner is not baptised (even if (s)he is a practising Christian) then you need a permission for ‘disparity of worship’.

Your priest will be able to help you with all this.

8] Supposing there are important pastoral reasons why we should be married according to the Anglican Rite?

You will need to talk these things through with your Parish Priest. If he decides that it is appropriate, he will ask your Diocese for a ‘Dispensation from the Canonical Form of Marriage’. If granted, your marriage will then count as a valid Catholic marriage, even though it was carried out according to a non-Catholic RiteYou do not need to have a Catholic Priest present.

9] We got married in Oxford without going through any of the Church formalities, but now want our marriage to be recognised in the eyes of the Church. Is this possible?

Yes. You need to go to your local Parish Priest and begin the process to obtain a ‘convalidation’ from your local Diocese. You will need to obtain all the regular documentation.

10] What documentation do I need for the meeting with my Parish Priest?

A recent baptism certificate and a ‘letter of freedom’ from your Parish Priest stating that you have not married previously.  The priest who is preparing you will complete the information-for-marriage form and will include these and any other relevant documents. There are some variations from diocese to diocese regarding the ‘freedom to marry’ document, so ask your priest. Some dioceses also request a confirmation certificate if you have one. If your partner is not baptised, then he or she simply needs a ‘freedom to marry’ document in some appropriate form.

11] What happens to all the documentation?

Your priest will send the forms off to your diocese, who will decide whether or not to give the appropriate permissions. They will then send the forms on to the Archdiocese of Birmingham, where the permissions to do with location and minister will be granted. The forms eventually end up where the marriage is recorded.