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The Archdiocese of Vancouver's St. Mary's parish will be holding a mass wedding for 15 couples on Oct. 15. Photo/Pixabay

Vancouver parish plans wedding for 15 couples

By  Agnieszka Krawczynski, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 3, 2016

VANCOUVER – Fifteen couples are set to be married in one big, happy ceremony in what will likely be the biggest wedding in the history of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The mass wedding will be held at St. Mary’s Church Oct. 15. All 15 couples have been civilly married, but that’s about all they have in common. One pair has been together for 33 years, another has only been married for four months, and a third has six children.

Archdiocesan archivist Jennifer Sargent said it is most likely the largest wedding in the archdiocese’s history.

“Since I’ve been handling PREP, over the last three years, I’ve met couples who were not married in the Catholic Church,” said Edwin Cruz, the Vancouver parish’s PREP director.

He’s had many conversations with Catholic who had wed civilly, but for one reason or another never said their “I dos” in the Church. When he and parishioner Rose Taruc held an information session to find out how many might be interested in being married in the Church, nearly 50 couples showed up.

“We had a lot of inquiries,” he said.

What they shared was a desire for the Church’s blessing on their marriages, so the parish started a new ministry for them.

“We called it Project Cana because of the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle,” said member Rose Pillay.

The group was inspired to hold a massive convalidation ceremony when they found out that Pope Francis had held one for 20 couples at St. Peter’s Basilica in 2014.

“They have sacrificed a lot of years away from the sacraments because of this one sacrament they didn’t have,” Pillay said.

According to Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo, judicial vicar for the regional marriage tribunal, Catholics who are not married in the Church should not receive Communion.

Pillay is very excited about helping them tie the knot in the Church this fall.

“I cannot tell you how beautiful it is to see how selfless these couples are,” she said.

“They took more time deliberating about the readings that we were going to hear than whether or not we’re going to serve cake at the end. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about marriage for them.”

Some pairs have gone through marriage preparation programs, and all have had one-on-ones with the pastor, Fr. Pierre Leblond, OP.

Many parish groups are helping out: Couples for Christ will host a pre-wedding ceremony, the Knights of Columbus will be ushers and parking attendants, the Catholic Women’s League will put on a coffee-and-cake reception, and altar servers, choirs and flower arrangers are volunteering their time.

“Imagine going to a wedding and seeing 15 brides and 15 grooms,” Pillay said. “It’s going to be beautiful. I was hoping to have a box of Kleenex in every pew.”

If all goes well, another mass convalidation may be held in February, welcoming more couples to marriage in the Church.

(B.C. Catholic)

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