July 30-31, 2016


I had the privilege of presiding at a Catholic/Buddhist wedding on Friday, July 15th at the Sapphire Estate in Sharon. What a beautiful setting for a marriage ceremony. And because the weather cooperated, we celebrated the wedding outdoors. 

As you may or may not know, when a Catholic marries another baptized Christian (Catholic or another denomination), the wedding must take place in a Church building in order for the Church to recognize it. The Church may be Catholic or the Church of the other Christian being married. The priest may be the celebrant or a minister could preside (or both) as long as the couple being married has filled out the necessary papers with the Catholic Church. 

The vast majority of the weddings I have celebrated over the years have been between two Catholics. I have also celebrated many ecumenical ceremonies (between 2 Christians one of whom is Catholic). I have also been invited to celebrate interfaith weddings (A Catholic marrying a person from another religion which is not Christian, e.g. Jewish). 

Because the Catholic Church is much more hospitable and understanding since the Second Vatican 
Council, we no longer frown on Catholics marrying persons of another religion. We have guidelines that allow and encourage that choice so that the Catholic person will know their Church stands with them and is privileged to share this intimate and sacramental moments with them and their families. 

I am also encouraged to participate if the Catholic person chooses to marry a person with no religious affiliation (agnostic or atheist). This service can also take place outside of the Church building. 

I was the only presider at the wedding on July 15th. The groom comes from a wonderful Catholic family and he is a faithful Church person. The bride's family is from Cambodia and came to this country, as many did, by boat, to escape persecution. They brought their Buddhist beliefs with them. Buddhists do not believe in God but in the goodness of all creation, and humanity's oneness with the world. 

The couple told me they would not be offended if I spoke about God, Christ or the Church. I wanted to be sensitive to their needs. I saw this celebration as a wonderful opportunity to acquaint many of the guests with their first interaction with the Catholic Church or a Catholic priest. I knew that by being open about our different approaches to life and talking about those beliefs, I could make everyone comfortable. We had a Scripture reading and a reading about the Buddhist philosophy. I spoke openly about not sharing the same faith, the same language, or the same culture, but we share our humanity. I used the Catholic ritual but respected the bride's philosophy when she exchanged vows and rings. When the groom gave the ring to the bride he said, "Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." When the bride placed the ring in the groom's finger, I had her repeat only the words "Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity." 

They are a beautiful couple. The Catholic Church respects their choices and I am blessed to be their friend. 

Enjoy Life! 
Fr Coyne


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