Prayer and Relationship with Christ
Married civilly? Consider Convalidation!
For various reasons, you may have chosen to marry civilly instead of getting married in the Catholic Church. Whether there were complicating factors, or you simply did not understand the value of marrying in the Church, or you did not have a connection with Christ and the Church, we eagerly invite you to bring your marriage into the Catholic Church! The process to do this is called convalidation.
Your family life may be going just fine, and your marriage may be satisfying and content, but there is a tremendous beauty and strength in a Catholic and sacramental marriage that we encourage you to explore. As spouses, you can enter into a deeper and more grace-filled relationship with each other and with God by having your marriage validated by the Church. “The benefits of convalidation are enormous: peace of heart, oneness with the Church, reception of the Sacrament of Matrimony and God’s special blessing upon the marriage.” [“Bringing Your Marriage Into the Church,” Msgr. Joseph M. Champlin, Catholic Update, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2004.]
If you and/or your spouse were baptized in (or received into) the Catholic Church, and you were married in a civil ceremony or under another religious denomination, your marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church (unless you received a dispensation). That said, you may want to look into the possibility of validating your marriage.
Convalidation is a relatively simple process if neither spouse was married before. If one of the spouses had any kind of prior marriage, and the prior spouse is still living, that marriage must have received a declaration of nullity (commonly called an annulment) from a Catholic tribunal before the convalidation of the present marriage can take place. In either case, the first step is to contact your parish (or, if you are not currently enrolled at a parish, then the one where you or your spouse currently reside) and make an appointment to thoroughly discuss your situation with the pastor or his delegate. The priest or deacon assisting you will advise you about any documents needed.
Convalidation is not simply a blessing of an existing union, but the true exchange of consent of the spouses. As such, there will be a period of preparation and formation prior to your ceremony to exchange vows in the Church. Your priest or deacon will guide you in the preparation and/or program he recommends.
The Convalidation/Re-marriage preparation/formation period is a time to not only prepare for your Catholic wedding day, but also for your marriage. The following steps are your starting point on this journey.
Your priest/deacon is your main source for information about preparing for your marriage in the Church. During your initial meeting, he can determine your freedom to marry, how many times he wants to meet with you and what marriage preparation he wants you to complete.
The Archdiocese of New York Marriage Preparation Program requires that your priest/deacon guide you to select one of the following online relationship inventories (you will need to specify this when you register online):
- Prepare/Enrich (requires a facilitator)
- Catholic Couple Checkup (without facilitator)
After meeting with your priest/deacon, click here to register (or login) for the Archdiocese of New York Marriage Preparation Program. NOTE: This also includes those convalidating and those re-marrying in the Church. The cost is $150 per couple.
It is ideal to complete your online premarital inventory before attending your in-person Prep Day. Relationship inventories help couples discover their strengths as well as issues that threaten the vitality of their relationship and may need to be addressed.
Catholic Couple Checkup and Prepare/Enrich are part of the archdiocesan marriage preparation program and are selected when you meet with your priest/deacon and then recorded at marriage preparation registration.
The archdiocesan Convalidation and Re-marriage preparation program is a set of integrated components including online learning modules and a one-day, in-person experience of faith, witness and community:
Online Modules: These include short educational videos with follow-up worksheets.
In-person Prep Day
- In-person Prep Days are held on Saturdays year-round, at churches and retreat centers throughout the Archdiocese of New York. You should participate in a Prep Day 3-12 months prior to your wedding.
- Built around short, high-quality video modules and engaging facilitators, the Prep Day provides practical advice and assistance for engaged couples on topics including self-awareness, communication, conflict resolution, commitment, and decision-making. The day is also designed to help couples understand and embrace a Catholic vision of married love by offering insights into the “whys” behind the “whats” of Catholic teaching.
Program Evaluation: When you have completed your Prep Day, and all of the segments of the entire marriage preparation program, you will be asked to complete anonymous surveys to provide your feedback.
Certificate of Completion: When you have completed the program and evaluations, a certificate will be available to download.
These will be as your priest/deacon requires. You should ask during your initial meeting how often and when these meetings will happen. Also, this is a good time to bring any questions you have about topics you heard during your marriage preparation program.
Visit our Fertility Awareness/ NFP page for more information.
Wedding Liturgy Readings and Information
For information on readings for your wedding liturgy and additional information: