How’s this for a wedding-a-palooza, from Catholic San Francisco:
St. Thomas More Parish in San Francisco is hosting a wedding for as many as 20 couples — one parish’s response to a decline of almost 50 percent in weddings among Catholics in the past two decades.
“We’ll be doing a real shebang. Areal wedding,” said Joe Espinueva, a parishioner and organizer of “Operation I Do,” a totally free wedding and reception for couples who were civilly but not sacramentally married or have been in a common law marriage.
“There will be cutting of cake. There will be dancing. We will want these people to feel they are getting a real marriage from the church,” said Espinueva.
Parishioners are volunteering to cook dishes, bake cakes, and offering to donate bouquets. Many of the marrying couples’ children will serve as flower girls and ring bearers.
Marriage preparation according to church norms is under way, said Espinueva. “We are not trying to do a microwave wedding or a shortcut wedding,” said Espinueva, who said he was sacramentally married at St. Thomas More four years ago, years after entering a civil marriage. The parish will engage in follow up with the couples after the wedding to keep them engaged spiritually with the church, Espinueva said.
“We started in our church a campaign to say for those married civilly — let us help you to marry in the church,” said pastor Msgr. Labib Kobti. “All that I want to do is to bring you back to the church and make from your wedding a sacrament. This we called ‘Operation I Do.’”
The parish expects numerous priests concelebrating and at least 500 wedding guests. It will host the reception at the large church hall on St. Thomas More school grounds, said Espinueva. “Msgr. Labib said we will be putting tents outside if that’s not enough space.”
The article also notes that three diaconate candidates from the parish are involved in the planning and execution of this event.