A reader posted this as a comment but I thought I’d put it here for wider discussion:
Hi, I stumbled onto this sight [sic] because I have a question. This isn’t terribly related to the topic at hand, but it looks like people here may have some insight. I was raised Catholic, but, as someone put above, have “fallen out of faith”. That is not the issue here, so please leave it be. I am engaged to a man who is not baptized, and we are in the planning stages of our wedding.
My issue is that my father, whom I love very much, is in formation (is that right?) to become a deacon in the Catholic Church. Short of having it in a Catholic Church (which isn’t going to happen), what needs to be done so that he will be able to attend AND walk me down the aisle? The idea of my parents not attending my wedding is causing me a fair bit of anxiety, but I need to know if it is simply inevitable.
This is obviously a painful and complicated situation.
From my perspective, I’m not sure there’s anything the bride herself can do to change things — short of having a conversion of heart and a Catholic wedding. (I’d have a few questions of my own first: have you talked to your parents about this decision? A Catholic priest?)
It’s really, I think, a greater challenge for her mother and father, who have to prayerfully consider all the options available, the consequences involved, and perhaps seek some spiritual direction before making a decision. Every family is different. Every circumstance is different.
But I don’t think there’s an easy solution.
Full disclosure and fair warning: be constructive and answer, please, with charity.
UPDATE: A solution, from Deacon Mike in the comments:
This happens quite often. All that has to happen is for the bride to approach her local parish priest and get the necessary dispensation. If she did that, which is very easy, then there would be no conflict of interest for her father. A Catholic may marry a non baptized person outside of a church ceremony so long as they have the proper dispensations from the bishop. It would be a valid but non sacramental marriage. The only question is whether or not the bride would be willing to approach her parish priest and ask for the dispensations. If she did that then all is well.
UPDATE II: From another deacon in the comments:
Having lived this situation, I chose to attend my son’s wedding. At the wedding reception, as his father, I blessed him and his lovely bride, wishing them joy and happiness upon their vows in covenant of marriage. And all enjoyed themselves at their celebration.
In formation it was continually stressed three priorities in this order: Faith in God, Family unity, and vocation lived out in the diaconal ministry. The deacon candidate should see his daughter for what she is, his flesh and blood, a great gift from God, and an adult. He should honor her wishes, and gently suggest she seek a dispensation as noted above. Still if she persists in not having any relationship with the Church, he should graciously accept it, and participate in the wedding. It will matter greatly in the future for him to have done so. I doubt walking her down the aisle will cause a public scandal. It is a sign of his fatherly love. So I suggest that daughter and father should pray together for unity, trusting in God’s Providential help.
Note, 7 years later, I still pray for my son and daughter-in-law to heal their disaffection with the Catholic Church, but it doesn’t stop us from having an engaging and loving relationship. God will mend all fractures and disunity in His time if we accept his healing graces (though, frustrating, it is rarely the same as our time.)