The Catholic University of America

Archived 7/19/11


I. Marriage: A Celebration of the Whole Church

Whenever the people of God gather in prayer as the Church, we celebrate our election, our adoption, into the Body of Christ. We bear 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 its 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.

II. 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.

III. 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. 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 easily accessible for those with disabilities. In addition, there is no dressing area for the bridal party. The chapel is equipped with Gather Comprehensive hymnals and the accompaniment books (keyboard and guitar).

St. Vincent de Paul Chapel is located on John McCormack Road, between Millennium North and Millennium South. Built in 1949, 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 accessible for those with disabilities. There is no dressing area for the bridal party. The chapel is equipped with Gather Comprehensive II hymnals and the accompaniment books (keyboard and guitar).


IV. Regulations

  1. Weddings will be scheduled according to University chapel availability. Note: Weddings are not encouraged during the season of Lent.
  2. All chapel reservations must be made at least six (6) months in advance, through the Office of Campus Ministry.
  3. No furniture or equipment is to be removed from the chapel/s or sacristy.
  4. No furniture or equipment is to be moved in the chapel/s without the expressed consent of the Campus Minister for Liturgy and Worship
  5. No notices, posters, or decorations may be affixed by any method to any walls, pews, chairs, fixtures, or furniture.
  6. 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 to remove all other decorations after the wedding ceremony.
  7. The chapel/s must be returned to its proper order. All programs, song sheets, or worship aids are to be collected by those using the chapel. Hymnals are to be returned to their proper place. Damages or loss will be billed to those using the chapel by the Office of Campus Ministry.
  8. All trash is to be placed in the proper containers by those using the chapels.
  9. All seasonal décor is to be left in place intact.
  10. No food or drink is allowed in the chapel/s.
  11. The sacristy is not a dressing room and is not to be used as such. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a place of reverence. Please be sure to observe this.
  12. If keys are needed to access the chapel/s and/or sacristies, arrangements should be made through the Campus Ministry Office Manager. Keys must be returned the following business day.
  13. All official Church guidelines are to be followed.

Note: The Office of Campus Ministry does not provide musicians or vocalists for events outside of its own liturgical functions or events, and/or those official CUA or faculty events.

If you wish to have the piano tuned immediately prior to chapel use, it is your responsibility to cover the cost. The cost is $100 which will be paid directly to the piano tuner (cost subject to change). The Campus Minister for Liturgy and Worship will arrange piano tuning at your request. At least two weeks advanced notice is required.

V. Fees

  • A $350 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.
  • A refundable security deposit of $100 is due at least two weeks prior to the wedding. Please make the security deposit a separate check. It will be cashed only if necessary, otherwise it will be marked "Void" and returned to the couple being married.
  • A $75 required sacristan fee is due at least two weeks prior to the wedding, payable directly to the University sacristan. A University sacristan must be present for both the rehearsal and the wedding. This fee is refundable in the event of a cancellation.

VI. Sacramental Records

A marriage ceremony that takes place in one of the university chapels will be recorded in the wedding registry book belonging to St. Anthony's Parish, which is kept at The Catholic University of America's Office of Campus Ministry.

VII. 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 with appropriate canonical faculties to celebrate the sacrament.
  3. Written permission from the pastor of the Catholic parties must be obtained.
  4. The priest must:
    a). Be licensed by the DC government
    b). Receive proper delegation from the University Chaplain

VIII. Responsibilities of the Couple

  1. Presider: The couple wishing to marry must secure a presider (either a Catholic priest or Catholic deacon with appropriate canonical faculties) and ensure that he is aware of his responsibilities to be allowed to conduct a marriage in Washington, DC.

  2. Marriage preparation: The couple is to consult the officiating priest to determine which form of marriage preparation will be most helpful to them. This preparation may include one or more of the following:
    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.

All documents must be presented to the officiating priest, who confirms their receipt with the Campus Minister for Liturgy and Worship, a minimum of fourteen days before the wedding. Following the wedding, all documents must be submitted to the Office of Campus Ministry to be kept in the official University record.

IX. Responsibilities of the Presider

1. An ordained faculty or staff member of the university may be invited to witness the marriage as long as he possesses appropriate canonical faculties. 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 officiating priest or deacon must be sure that adequate marriage preparation has taken place and all necessary documents have been obtained (including prenuptial investigation). These documents must be submitted to the Office of Campus Ministry at least one month in advance. The official copy of the marriage license must be submitted to the office immediately following the wedding ceremony.

4. The officiating priest or deacon is responsible for working with the couple in planning the liturgy and music, ensuring that it is appropriate for Catholic worship. A copy of the proposed order of service must be submitted to the Campus Minister for Liturgy and Worship at least one month before the wedding date.