Sunday, October 28, 2007

Catholic church for faith, Anglican for wedding

Although they are still officially Roman Catholics, Alain Boisvert and Denise Hubert have decided to marry - in an Anglican church.

It will be a second marriage for both. They didn't like the idea of a civil ceremony at the local courthouse, and they didn't want to have to seek clerical annulments of their first marriages in order to marry again in a Catholic church.

"I could have asked for an annulment, but that would have been like annulling the two children I had from my first marriage, and morally I couldn't do that," Hubert said.

Boisvert, who is 44 years old, and Hubert, 49, had already heard through the grapevine that the Anglican church in Sorel had begun offering remarriage opportunities for divorced Roman Catholics.

So when Christ Church opened its doors this past summer to guided tours, they were among 1,500 in this town of 34,000 who took advantage of the opportunity to peek inside.

As a result of that visit, the couple decided to get married in the church next August, after marriage-preparation sessions in the spring with local Anglican priest Holly Ratcliffe.

As a result of a 1999 edict from the office of the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, which includes the Sorel parish, priests in the diocese are now free to offer marriage services to non-Anglican couples at their own discretion.

Newlyweds don't have to convert to the Anglican faith.

In Sorel, however, some of those who have remarried in Christ Church have taken to showing up in the pews on Sunday mornings and are part of an almost entirely francophone and Roman Catholic congregation of 30 people.

Ratcliffe, who gives her church services in French, married four Roman Catholic couples in 2005, her second year as pastor in the Sorel parish.

Last year, she married two before having to cut back on her activities in order to complete a doctoral thesis.

"Every couple is different," Ratcliffe said. "Some want more religious language than others."

Hubert said her spiritual side has grown as she has aged through her 40s. After her parents died in 2006, she said she started noticing in her hospital work that churchgoers seemed to cope much better than other people with the death of a loved one.

As for the issue of why they are getting married in a Protestant church, Hubert said, "That's not the question (people) ask. The big question we get is why we want to get married at all, after 18 years."

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