Sunday, December 9, 2012

Conversion Road Part One: Catholic Wedding Conundrum

For this soon-to-be Catholic, where to get married isn't as easy as it should be

By Emily Gedert
figured the best way for me to begin my writing journey here is to write about my conversion story. If you read my blog at, you probably know all about it and everything that I’ve gone through to get there. But if you may not know me, hi! Welcome to this insight of a huge part of my life.

I first should say that I’m getting married in May. In just a little over five short months I’ll be marrying the love of my life. I wish I could say that we’re getting married in a Catholic church. But we’re not. We’re getting married in a Lutheran church and my grandfather is the pastor who will be presiding. Let me back up a few steps and tell you the whole story.

I grew up as a Lutheran pastor’s granddaughter. The entire church knew who I was and we sat at the front of the church each and every Sunday with my mother and grandma near me. Once my grandfather retired, we bounced back and forth between churches because none of them were the right fit for us. It was a rocky spot for my faith because there was never a place we could call “home” and I felt like we were being pulled in a million directions.

Fast forward a few years to my time at Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school. I loved going to Mass weekly and was devastated when I was not allowed to participate by singing or reading. It really hurt me because I longed to be involved with church in some way. We went on retreats every year and I absolutely loved learning about a new faith. I especially was close to one of my teachers who was a Sister of Notre Dame. I never really thought about converting at that point, since I was still actively involved in our new church. However, I was extremely enthusiastic about learning the Catholic faith (and I did especially well in all of my theology classes!)

My first two years of college were pretty rough times for me. I was in a relationship that was quite unhealthy and was really struggling. I became involved in a Christian sorority but I still did not feel very close to God. I stopped going to church pretty much altogether and I really lost sight of my faith. I started dating my fiance my sophomore year and I noticed how he went to church every week. He never really talked much about it, and never really asked me to go. I kept wondering when that conversation would come up of why I’m not going to church, but it never did.

The beginning of my junior year I finally asked him to go to church with him. I never understood why he never asked me before! I figured it would be a good time for me to start going to church again and start trying to have a relationship with God again. I was in an emotionally-stable relationship (finally) and I knew how important faith was to him. I absolutely loved going to Mass. I loved the songs and the traditions and it brought back great memories from high school. I knew I had to be a part of this.

Once my fiance and I started talking about getting married, we started talking about what we were doing to do because we were different faiths. I was completely okay with converting since I truly had fallen in love with the Church. I met with the priest at school towards the middle of junior year. He told me that I would have to go through RCIA and meet with him occasionally. That sounded great to me! I would have to wait until the next year to start, but I was so excited.

I knew that even before we were engaged, my family would not be okay with our wedding if my grandfather was not the pastor. With the Catholic Church, he is not allowed to read the vows, which was extremely important to my mom. I wanted to find a way around this so I could still convert and have my grandfather be an important part of the ceremony. I found a priest in my hometown that was going to be gracious enough to let my grandfather read the vows while he stands next to him. I was so excited that I found a church that would let this happen!

Once we were engaged, I was already starting RCIA classes. I prepared for the dreaded talk with my mom about what kind of ceremony I wanted to have. Once I told her, she was extremely upset and hurt. My grandfather also called me and was upset and hurt. I decided that I could not disappoint and hurt my family and go against their wishes.

They say to honor your mother and father, and by waiting to convert, that is exactly what I am doing by waiting a little while longer to be confirmed.

As much as it upset me, I learned to be okay with it. It was the last thing I could do as a Lutheran to honor my family and their tradition. We are still doing everything as if we are getting married in the Catholic Church by attending Pre-Cana in the winter and preparing with the Deacon of my fiance’s church. We also have marriage prep on the Lutheran side with my grandfather.

I still attended RCIA classes last year and the priest told me that I am able to convert during the Easter season, even if it’s not at the Easter Vigil. This is great news to me since the Easter season lasts until the middle of June. I am tentatively going to be confirmed the day after our wedding (May 5) at the Catholic church where I completed RCIA at (and where the priest from my college is!)

I am overjoyed that I will be Catholic in just a few short months. As unfortunate as it is to not have the ability to get married in the Catholic church, I’m okay with it. Our wedding may not be Catholic but our marriage will be. I hope you continue to follow my journey with converting and with preparing for my marriage!


ericapage said...

Wow, Emily, that was a beautiful story. I think that sometimes in their zeal, converts can unintentionally hurt their non-Catholic family and friends. (I'm pointing a finger at myself, here! Oops.) I think it is so loving of you to wait to be confirmed for the sake of your family, and to get married in a Lutheran church. You're right--your wedding will be Lutheran, but your marriage (and life!) will be Catholic. Just beautiful.

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