International Marriages: Requirements for the Catholic Marriage of Non-Residents in the Diocese of Hamilton, Bermuda
The Diocese of Hamilton in Bermuda promotes the principle that the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony is ideally celebrated within that community of Faith which is the couple’s local Catholic Parish. However, in order to come to the aid of those couples who, due to personal circumstances, choose not to celebrate their weddings within a local Parish Community, the Diocese of Hamilton in Bermuda will allow for the celebration of weddings of non-resident Catholics. The requirements for the Catholic Marriage of non-residents in Bermuda are listed below.
- You must first contact the Vicar General of the Diocese, Rev. Paul Voisin, CR. He will be the contact person to answer any inquiries. He will also help you to determine which Parish Church may be the most appropriate for your celebration dependent upon where your reception will be held and where your guests will be staying. You may request a particular Parish and particular Pastor. Fr. Paul will also determine, with the help of the individual Pastor in Bermuda, to ascertain if it would be possible to have the Marriage on the date and time you desire. This should be done at least eight to twelve months in advance.
The following is a list of Catholic Parishes in Bermuda:
St. Theresa’s Cathedral City of Hamilton, Pembroke
St. Patrick’s Parish Smith’s Parish
St. Michael’s Parish Paget Parish
St. Joseph’s Parish Somerset Parish
Stella Maris Parish St. George’s Parish
St. Anthony’s Parish Warwick Parish
2. A period of preparation before Marriage is required and the couple must make the necessary preparation in the Parish of the bride or the groom. Accordingly, the couple must contact their local Parish and arrange to be interviewed by their Parish priest so that all the necessary pre-nuptial investigations can be made. The local Parish priest must give permission for the wedding to take place in another Parish. (Canon 1115)
3. The couple is to be prepared for Marriage according to the requirements of the Diocese in which they reside. All necessary Church documentation is to be completed in the country of origin.
In Bermuda, the designated priest will conduct the rehearsal, officiate at the wedding, enter the marriage into the Parish records and send out all the necessary notifications. Please note well that a tentative wedding date will be scheduled into the Marriage appointment book only after the appropriate Pastor in the country of origin who is preparing the couple advises the designated Pastor in Bermuda of the following:
a) the couple is free to marry;
b) that he has agreed to prepare the couple for Marriage;
c) that he will send all the required documentation to his Diocesan Chancery office for review and approbation (Nihil Obstat). In return, the Chancery will send the documentation and approval to the Chancery Office in Bermuda. You may have to pay this cost there. It is very important that the documents be sent by Courier NOT by postal service. On occasions, when sent by postal service, this important documentation has arrived at the last minute – necessitating phone calls or e-mails between parties (the priest there, you, and the priest here) to determine if they have been sent, and where they are in transit. Courier Services available are DHL Worldwide Express, Federal Express, International Bonded Couriers, Mailboxes Unlimited, Sprint International, or United Parcel Service.
In summary, the documentation must be sent from Chancery Office to Chancery Office.
COURIER ADDRESS: Most Rev. Wiesław (Wesley) Śpiewak, C.R.
Roman Catholic Chancery
#2 Astwood Road
Paget, DV 04
Phone No. (441) 232-4414
4. Along with the standard documentation for all marriages in the church, the Diocese of Hamilton in Bermuda requests the following:
a) A letter from the proper Pastor giving his permission for the couple to be married in a Parish of the Diocese of Hamilton in Bermuda. The proper Pastor is the Pastor of the bride’s Parish, if both parties are Roman Catholic, or the Pastor of the Roman Catholic party if one of the intended spouses is not Roman Catholic.
b) A letter or certificate stating that the couple has received the proper Marriage instructions and preparation.
c) A Baptismal Certificate from each party’s Parish of Baptism. The certificates of the Catholic parties must be recent, i.e., issued within six months prior to the wedding. It will also indicate the date of the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Please make sure that the complete mailing address of the Church is listed on the Baptismal certificate, as the Parish where your marriage is celebrated has the responsibility of sending official notification to the Parish of Baptism.
5. The papers must arrive by courier service in the Chancery Office in Bermuda at least 90 days before the planned date of Marriage. When the Bishop in Bermuda confirms that all is in order, the documents are then sent to the Parish priest who is to witness the wedding. At this point the date of the wedding is confirmed. All documents will remain in the Parish where the Marriage is celebrated.
REQUIREMENTS OF BERMUDA LAW
6. It is recommended that the couple work with one of the wedding consultants or Marriage planning agencies who deal with weddings in Bermuda. The couple is responsible for the Bermuda wedding license. The wedding agency will assist with this. The Parish priest in Bermuda should have the license in hand 1-2 weeks in advance of the wedding.
7. If the couple intends to invite a guest priest or deacon to celebrate the wedding, that is, to witness the Marriage in the name of the Catholic Church, special requirements apply. The visiting priest or deacon will require a license from the Bermuda Government to serve as a Marriage Officer. A Letter of Testimony will also be required from the Bishop or the Religious Superior of the priest or deacon declaring him to be in good standing with the Church. The Letter of Testimony is to be provided on the form made available by the parish priest in Bermuda. The Parish priest in Bermuda needs to be aware of this situation in order to guide the process.
FEES AND STIPENDS
8. Fees and stipends totaling $1,500 are to be paid to the priest in Bermuda two months before the wedding. One cheque, covering all these fees, should be made payable to the name of the Parish church where the wedding will be celebrated.
Fee for the Church 700
Contribution for Diocesan Ministries 500
Stipend for the priest 300
9. At the same time, fees for the organist, instrumentalists, soloists, leader of song or other services connected with the wedding are to be paid separately by the couple in consultation with the Parish priest of the Church where the wedding is to take place.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE DIOCESE OF HAMILTON IN BERMUDA
10. The Parish Priest in Bermuda will advise the couple regarding Diocesan policies and appropriate practice for ceremonies related to the Marriage Rite. The traditional wedding vows which express the nature of, and consent to, the Sacrament of Marriage are the only ones approved for use.
11. The decision regarding the celebration of the wedding during a Eucharistic Liturgy (Mass) or a Liturgy of the Word (Scripture Service) is to be determined by the Priest in Bermuda in consultation with the couple.
12. The celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is an act of worship. The proper place for worship, in the Catholic tradition, is in a Church, the place of regular communal worship of the faith Community. Marriages, with Catholic clergy officiating, are not celebrated on beaches or in gardens.
13. Before coming to Bermuda, the couple, with the assistance of their Pastor, chooses the Scripture readings for the celebration during the course of their Marriage preparation. The Parish Priest in Bermuda should be informed of the readings chosen well in advance of the wedding. As part of his preparation to deliver the Homily the Parish Priest, working with the couple, may choose the Gospel to be proclaimed. Readings that are not Scriptural are not appropriate in the wedding liturgy (poems, secular writings, etc.).
14. Only liturgically appropriate music is permitted during wedding celebrations. The Parish organist will offer orientation about this important aspect of the worship celebration.
15. The Parish Priest in Bermuda is authorized to determine policy regarding: the opening procession, type and placement of floral decorations; use of candles; rice or confetti; policy on photographers; music for the Liturgy of the Eucharist or the Scripture Service. For this reason communication between the priest preparing you and the priest who will celebrate the Marriage is vital.
16. A very helpful resource for the planning of your wedding is a book entitled “Together for Life” by Fr. Joseph Champlin (Ave Maria Press: 2005). It is available at most Catholic bookstores or it can be ordered directly from the publisher at (1-800-282-1865) or at www.avemariapress.com.
In conclusion please be assured that the Catholic Church in Bermuda wants to assist you in
making your Marriage a truly sacred event. All of the above policies and regulations are spelled
out only to assist the process of effective planning and to avoid misunderstanding. May the
Lord be with you and Bless you.
Most Rev. Robert J. Kurtz, CR
Bishop of Hamilton in Bermuda
12th September 2012