The Catholic University of America

Archived 11/14/05

Weddings at CUA


Marriage: A celebration of the Whole Church

Like the children of Israel of old, whenever the people of God gather in prayer as the Church, we celebrate our election, our adoption, into the Body of Christ. We bare witness to the communal nature of this family we call "the Church, the Body of Christ" every time we come together for our public worship. Indeed, all of the sacraments are celebrated most poignantly when they are prayed in the context of a communal celebration. On the local level, this public prayer and worship of the universal Church is realized in the parish community. Since every sacrament is a participation in the prayer of the entire Body of Christ, a wedding celebration that focuses on those receiving the sacrament alone, would somehow fall short of it's full meaning as a celebration of the entire people of God.

Thus, the exchange of wedding vows is a visible sign of God's presence and love in the world in general and the parish community in particular, and the creation of a new family within this worldwide body. As the couple vow to each other, the local community promises to be there for the couple and each other in times of joy and in times of need. Thus, a commitment is made not only between the woman and the man, but also between the couple and the church, and the church with her members.

For these reasons, the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963) strongly favor and encourage the celebration of the communal sacraments in the parish. It is further stated that graduates of educational institutions are expected to register in a parish. The Catholic University of America (CUA) is not a university parish. The university is located within the territorial limits of St. Anthony's Parish in the Brookland Neighborhood.

Because of the nature of the University community and the ties, which sometimes develop between individuals and the University, students, faculty, and staff may wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage on campus. The Archdiocese of Washington and the Office of Campus Ministry at The Catholic University of America have set guidelines to facilitate a valid celebration of this sacrament.

Those Who Are Eligible to be Married on Campus

  1. Full-time CUA students may be married in one of the University chapels. A grace period of one year is permitted for individuals who have graduated from this University.
  2. Full-time CUA faculty and/or staff members may also be married in one of the University chapels.

Use of University Chapels

University community uses the University chapels regularly. It is important that the needs and the guidelines set by the University are followed.

Caldwell Chapel (dedicated in 1889 as St. Paul's Chapel) is located in Caldwell Hall, mezzanine level, and is the original chapel of The Catholic University of America. The chapel seats 60 to 70 adults comfortably. It is not air-conditioned. A Kawai studio piano is located in the front of the chapel. The Odell pipe organ (New York, 1889) is the original, and is in need of renovation and repair. Persons wishing to use this instrument must speak with the Director of Liturgy and Worship. Because of the chapel's location, we regret to say that it is not handicapped accessible. In addition, there is no dressing area for the bridal party.

St. Vincent de Paul Chapel is the "official" chapel of the University and is located on John McCormack Road, between Ryan and Regan Halls. Built in 1949 and renovated and re-dedicated in 1992, the chapel seats 150 to 175 adults, with use of the balcony. It is not air-conditioned. The chapel is equipped with a baby grand piano and a Schudi pipe organ (1987). Those persons wishing to use the pipe organ must speak with the Director of Liturgy and Worship. Restrooms are located to the left and right of the main entrance. The chapel is handicapped accessible. There is no dressing area for the bridal party.

Both chapels are equipped with Gather Comprehensive hymnals and the accompaniment books (keyboard and guitar).

1. Weddings will be scheduled according to university chapel availability.

2. A reservation for the wedding and the rehearsal must be made at least six (6) months in advance, through the Office of Campus Ministry, where a reservation form may be obtained.

3. A $300 required fee for the use of the chapel is to be paid when reserving the chapel. In the event of a cancellation, the fee is refundable. In addition, a refundable security deposit of $100 is due at least two weeks before the wedding. Please make the security deposit a separate check. It will be cashed only when necessary, otherwise it will be marked "Void" and returned to the couple being married.

4. A $50 required sacristans fee. Presence of a university sacristan is required at both the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony. This fee is due when the chapel is reserved, and is refundable in case of cancellation.

5. No furniture or equipment is to be moved or removed from any of the chapels or sacristies.

6. No notices, posters, or decorations may be affixed by any adhesive to any walls, pews, chairs, fixtures, or furniture.

7. Florists must provide their own flower stands. We are grateful when flowers are left in the chapel as a donation to the university. It is the responsibility of the bridal party that all other decorations are removed after the wedding ceremony.

8. Because of risk of injury, no rice, petals, seed, etc. may be thrown inside or outside of the university chapels.

Wedding Guidelines

  1. Arrangements for a wedding to be celebrated at one of the University chapels must be made with the University Chaplain, the Director of Liturgy and Worship, and the officiating priest a minimum of six (6) months prior to the wedding.
  2. Those wishing to marry in one of the University chapels must secure an officiating priest.
  3. Written permission from the pastor of the Catholic parties must be obtained.
  4. The priest must:
  1. Be licensed by the DC government
  2. Receive delegation from the University Chaplain

Responsibilities of the Couple

  1. The couple wishing to marry must secure a presider.
  2. Marriage preparation: The couple is to consult the officiating priest to determine which form of marriage preparation will be most helpful to them:
  1. A prep course
  2. Individual counseling
  3. Engaged Encounter
  4. Pre-Cana Conferences

A certificate of completion must be submitted and kept with the couple's marriage record at the university.

  1. Marriage license. This is obtained at the Marriage License Bureau, 500 Indiana Ave., NW, Room 4485; 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, (202) 879-4840. The license is valid for one (1) month and requires a five (5) day waiting period after the application has been filed and payment of fee.
  2. Baptismal Certificates. Each baptized person being married must present an official copy of his/her baptismal record for inclusion in the records. For Catholics, this means obtaining an official copy of your certificate issued within six months of the wedding. For non-Catholics, any permanent copy of your baptismal record will suffice. These documents become part of the church record and cannot be returned.
  3. Freedom to Marry Forms. Each party is given a copy of a form to be completed by a priest, who questions a parent, relative or close acquaintance regarding the parties' freedom to marry.

Responsibilities of the Presider

1. An ordained faculty or staff member of the University may be invited to witness the marriage. Other ordained Catholic clergy also may officiate, with the permission of the University Chaplain and proper delegation and licensing. The name of this person must be submitted to the University Chaplain at least two months before the wedding in order that all canonical and legal issues may be addressed.

2. The presiding deacon or priest must receive delegation from the University Chaplain before witnessing the marriage. The couple should put the presider in contact with the University Chaplain, who will facilitate this process. This should be done as soon as possible.

3. The presider must be sure that adequate marriage preparation has taken place and all necessary documents have been obtained. These documents must be submitted to the Campus Ministry Office of Liturgy and Worship at least one (1) month in advance.