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Marriage in the Church

Jesus calls many women and men to the vocation of marriage and being parents. Married couples promise to serve each other with love and to serve the whole Church. They enter into a life-long covenant of love. They serve the Church by their love and share in God`s creation when they give birth to children. Every married couple must be ready to welcome and raise lovingly the children God wishes them to have.

Marriage may be a long way off for may young people but they can begin to learn now to love, respect, and care for their families and friends in the same way that God always loves each of us.

The family is also the place where religious vocations are fostered, so that Catholic marriages have the privilege of providing the Church with priests and nuns, as well as with future holy mothers and fathers, or dedicated singles. Marriage is not only about romance. It is a perpetual commitment in which the husband and wife give themselves to each other, making a solemn vow to love and respect each other "until death do us part. Married life is not always easy, and both spouses often have to sacrifice their own pleasure and comfort for the good of the whole family.

Why Marry in the Church?

To have the People of God join us in celebrating a major decision in your life

  • To invite God to the wedding as the third party in our relationship
  • A relationship with the Church community is an asset in marriage
  • To be more aware that God reveals his love in our marriage
  • We are planning for a long happy marriage, not just a wedding dayv
  • Our commitment to a life long journey begins with the blessing of God
  • We want to witness our love and commitment to our family, our friends and to the whole world
  • There is no better way to begin something so special as marriage
  • We want to be an example for our current nieces and nephews and our future children
  • Our parents and grandparents did teach us something after all
  • We truly want to spend the rest of our lives together, and we can't do it alone. We are looking for support.

 Why Not to Marry in the Church? 

  • Nice oak pews
  • Beautiful backdrop for pictures
  • One of us is pregnant so we need to speed things up
  • To make Grandma and everyone else happy
  • Our relationship is falling apart
  • To give our children their father's name
  • I've always wanted to walk down the aisle in a white dress
  • The priest is hassling us
  • It will change our string of bad luck
  • We can afford the wedding now
  • It might curb my wild side if we tie the knot
  • She is tired of living in sin
  • This is the only thing we haven't done yet
  • We don't want to have to explain the truth to our kids
  • We have to get things done right in case one of us dies
  • If we don't hurry up the priest won't baptize our kids
  • Two words: P-A-R-T-Y T-I-M-E ! ! ! !
  • We bought a house
  • The tradition in our family is "get married or get out!" 

Reflections on the Vocation of Marriage 

We can't imagine what our lives would have been like without each other! Although we are best friends and soul mates, it's very difficult to realize the reality of marriage as a vocation when you are standing at the altar on your wedding day. People may think they are embarking on this life-long journey with their eyes wide open and their feet planted firmly on the ground but both partners undergo such dramatic physical and emotional changes during the course of their married relationship, that nothing can adequately help them prepare for the adventures ahead. Marriage, for us, has involved a shared belief that we would love and support each other for the long haul in times of great joy and in times of times of incredible sorrow, with many challenges along the way.

Among the joys of our marriage are the love and companionship that produced three unique and wonderful children. Through our relationship and example, we want our children to understand the importance of our Catholic faith in their lives and the responsibilities that come with marriage and membership in our church and our community. Growing and developing in love, faith, and service to God, each other, our family and friends have helped us to more fully live our vocations. Marriage, though, like any other vocation isn't always easy or fun. Once the excitement of being newlyweds or new parents fades, the reality of combining two personalities, two family histories and two distinct wills must be managed effectively to make marriage successful.

It's the very challenging and painful times that bind people together and help them grow or ultimately tear them apart. Sitting up all night with a sick family member, waiting for a surgeon to give life-changing news, making it through multiple cross-country moves, job losses and major disappointments are the things that can make or break a marriage. That's where a lot of trust and prayer and asking God to continuously be a partner in your marriage make the difference. We ask God to help us remember when we first met and the strong love that grew between us. We ask for help to work that love into the difficult moments so that nothing divides us. We sometimes struggle for the words and hearts that are both loving and willing to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

We both share the roles of spouse, parent, employee, student, parish minister and volunteer. We often have different priorities and are frequently on different levels when it comes to how we view situations and issues. In order to remain one but continue to achieve our optimal levels of spiritual, intellectual and emotional fulfillment, it is periodically necessary to step back and count our blessings, consider the other person's point of view and see the image of Christ in someone who you may love intensely but who is driving you crazy. Marriage provides a certain security in knowing that another person has seen you at both your best and your worst and still loves you unconditionally.

After nearly thirty years of marriage that began when we were very young adults, would we do it again? The answer is a definite "yes". Although there have been and will continue to be times when we wonder what could have been if we had pursued different paths, we think of Robert Frost's words regarding the road not taken and about how the road that was chosen has made all of the difference in our lives, our relationships with God and the fulfillment of our vocations.

Jan and Jim Gatto

More on Marriage at St. John Neumann

Catholic Resources to Learn More about Marriage
Marriage and Family Life Office, Diocese of Columbus
Who to Contact for More Information About Married Life

Marriage and Family Life Office, Diocese of Columbus
Stephanie Jenemann, MA, CPM
Susan Connolly, LISW