Church mass wedding celebrates Christian community’s support for the poor
By Myrna Bermudo
Fourteen couples joined the mass wedding organised by the Sta. Rafaela Maria School (SRMS) of Naga City in collaboration with the Parish of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila in Abella, Naga City. The couples are parents of SRMS students.
It was not an easy task to convince the couples to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony. This challenge, however, inspired the Sisters of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart (ACI) headed by Sr. Aline Barde, ACI, and the school educators together with Fr. Larry de los Santos, the parish priest, to launch a nonstop home visitation and unlimited help to assist the couples in preparing for the church wedding.
“We would like to help the parents deepen their faith in God. Thus, after we discovered that many of our parents are not married in the church, we thought of recruiting couples who would like to avail of this church wedding. It was inspiring to experience the support from the community to make the wedding a reality for the couples,” says Sr. Aline who is also the school principal.
One of the newly-wedded couples admitted they thought that being civilly married was enough. Together for 22 years, with three children who are all grown -up, a church wedding was far from their dreams. The persistent follow-up of the teachers and the seminars on the sacrament of marriage, changed their perspectives. Although they requested anonymity for this interview, they revealed that they are grateful for the moral and financial support from the parish and school community as they prepared and celebrated their wedding.
“After our church wedding, I was able to experience deep joy and peace inside my heart. I can now receive communion together with my wife and children whenever we attend mass. The support of the sisters and the teachers were overwhelming. They helped all of us in securing the needed documents, they even prepared a wedding banquet for all the fourteen couples. Some donated wedding rings, cake and food,” says a padyak driver when asked about his experience after the church wedding.
A couple kneels in thanksgiving in front of the Blessed Sacrament. They received the Sacrament of Matrimony at the Parish of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, Abellla, Naga City. “After our church wedding, I was able to experience deep joy and peace inside my heart. I can now receive communion together with my wife and children whenever we attend mass,” says the groom who availed of the mass church wedding. ((MB Sta.Rafaela School of Naga City)
“I was enlightened by the seminar on confirmation and marriage. My faith was educated. It was a great blessing that I can now receive communion after 22 years. Our parish priest was very helpful. I would like to thank him and the teachers who devoted time and effort to help all of us,” says the wife of the padyak driver who requested not to be named.
For teachers Ailyn Guevarra, Jeffrey Condeno and Mary Camille Rull, helping in the preparation was “a great feeling of fulfilment that God used us to be His instrument for these couples to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.”
The fourteen couples underwent formation activities to prepare them for the wedding: interview by the parish priest; seminar conducted by Fr. Darius Romualdo, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Caceres; and marriage seminar given by the Caceres Family Life Ministry.
On March 20, some of the parents receive the Sacrament of Confirmation held at San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila Parish Church.
The solemn celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage for the fourteen couples was presided by Fr. de los Santos at Sta. Rafaela Maria School last March 27, 2021.
For Fr. de los Santos, reaching out is important. “This pandemic must not hinder us, pastors, to reach out to those who are in need. I was hesitant at first to launch this program, but, the spiritual needs of the couple to receive the sacrament of matrimony is a higher value. I hope and pray that we were able to encourage them to live as Christian couples and to have faith that God is present in them and continues to bless their family life,” he says.