May 20, 2011

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Peg McEvoy

A wedding invitation

It is almost guaranteed that, if you attend a Catholic wedding, there will be someone there who is either unfamiliar with Catholicism or who has been “away” for a while.

Have you ever considered a wedding as an opportunity to invite people to “reconnect” with their faith? This may be true, especially if they have been “away” from their Catholic faith. These “evangelizing opportunities” are possible with the couple themselves, their families and the guests who attend the ceremony. And each of us can do something.

It is countercultural to focus on marriage more than the wedding. That is why we, in the archdiocese, invite the couple to participate in meetings with their priest and possibly a sponsor couple as well as attend marriage preparation programs.

We ask them to set aside time to focus on the important “big picture” of their marriage. By asking the sometimes difficult questions in a prayerful and supportive environment, we encourage the future bride and groom to explore their readiness for the sacrament of matrimony.

It is an opportunity to focus on the often misunderstood teachings of the Church on marriage, the family and God’s plan for them, and to be reminded of the special graces that God provides to couples who are open.

Joining the couple in holy matrimony is the most important part of a wedding, but there are some other important elements, too.

People who have stopped coming to church will often still attend a wedding. Do we welcome them? Do we have materials readily available to help folks who are unfamiliar with the Mass?

What can a parish evangelization team do? First, search for opportunities that exist for evangelization in the Catholic wedding process in your parish, especially with hospitality. Talk to your pastor and/or staff to see if there is something your team can do to help.

Could someone on your team be a cheerful contact person for weddings, especially involving people who are marginally connected to the Church? Could your team help by offering hospitality on the day of the wedding?

Your parish probably already has some materials available in the gathering space that explain some elements of Catholicism. Could your team make sure those materials are displayed prominently for weddings? There is a great, to-the-point pamphlet titled “Top Ten Questions Catholics are Asked” by Our Sunday Visitor publishing.

As Catholics, we need to always be open to being evangelized. We need to pray for the compassion of Christ as we reach out. We need to grow in knowledge about the sacrament of matrimony as well as the “what’s” and “whys” of Church teaching.

The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is a handy resource for updating yourself on what the Church teaches and why. Also, consider the U.S. bishops’ pastoral on marriage titled “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” downloadable for free at You might also enjoy the website

The most important thing we can all do is to be truly welcoming to the couples, families and friends before, during and after the wedding, inviting them in various ways to connect or deepen their connection with our Lord and his Church. We know our Lord wants to melt the hearts of all women and men—making room for him there. We also know, from Christ’s participation in the Wedding at Cana, that miracles can truly begin with a wedding.

(Peg McEvoy is associate director for Evangelization and Family Catechesis. For questions about starting a parish evangelization team, contact her at or call 317-236-1430 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1430.)

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