Church Is Wedded to National Marriage Week

As the Church celebrates National Marriage Week, one of the biggest challenges facing parochial ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn is the plunge in the number of sacramental marriages in our parishes. The diocese has a robust marriage preparation program available in the many languages of our parishioners. 

The Diocese of Brooklyn offers marriage preparation for those who are marrying someone who does not share their Catholic faith or even their Christian faith. We offer marriage preparation for those who are divorced and getting remarried after the declaration of the invalidity of the sacrament of marriage or after the death of a spouse. 

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic lockdowns and shutdowns, parishes across the diocese celebrated 3,053 weddings, a healthy uptick from the previous year’s total of 1,851. Speculation offered by some wedding vendors suggested couples took the lockdowns seriously, which may have spurred a renewed urgency to wed. 

A continuing upward trend would be a great way to kick off National Marriage Week in the Roman Catholic Church, and World Marriage Day. 

But new data paint a different picture. 

In 2021, one year after the 2020 surge, the diocese celebrated only 1,164 weddings. Data for 2022 is not yet available. 

The diocese’s Marriage Tribunal, located at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston is ready and available to assist those who need help to rectify their state of life regarding sacramental marriage. 

The diocese’s Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis is ready and available to assist those who are not only preparing for marriage, but also those whose marriages might be in difficult moments. Each parish in Queens and Brooklyn, with their clergy and parish staff, are ready and willing to assist all in their local neighborhoods. 

With all of this in mind, we might wish to ask ourselves why there are so few sacramental marriages currently, not only in the Diocese of Brooklyn, but in many parts of the U.S.? Of course, it is a matter of culture and a shifting of morals, as well as a general devaluation of the place of religion in the public and private lives of people in the U.S. However, perhaps it might be that people no longer understand the concept of the sacrament of marriage in the life of a Christian. 

Let’s turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for a greater definition of the sacrament of matrimony: 

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” 

Pope Francis has said, “Marriage is of enduring importance. Its essence derives from our human nature and social character. It involves a series of obligations born of love itself, a love so serious and generous that it is ready to face any risk.” 

For an appropriate biblical reference, there is Ephesians 5:24-25: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” 

This National Marriage Week, may we focus as a Church on just how beautiful the sacrament of holy matrimony really is and how we as the Church, the people of God, the mystical body of Christ, the bride of Christ, can help foster a culture of love and understanding in our Diocese of Brooklyn.