Misconceptions about annulments and the process necessary to declare a marriage null in the eyes of the Church often cause unnecessary pain and confusion for divorced Catholics and sometimes prevent them from participating in their faith.
In an effort to reach out to those who might be faced with these circumstances, the Diocese of Trenton will host an Annulment Information Evening in your area March 6 in St. William the Abbot, 2740 Lakewood-Allenwood Rd., Howell, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
During the gathering, a tribunal judge will explain the annulment process and answer questions from possible petitioners. Common questions involve the cost of and requirements for an annulment and the impact an annulment has on the children of a divorced couple.
Unlike a civil divorce, which declares that a marriage no longer legally exists, an annulment, as described by the diocesan Tribunal, is "a declaration by the Catholic Church that the prior union never had the binding force that characterizes marriage.
An annulment does not deny the reality of the wedding or the experience of the spouses during married life, but rather says that because something was seriously defective when the bride and groom spoke their wedding vows, the marriage lacked the binding force that Jesus taught."
Attendees will also be introduced to some of the diocese's annulment advocates who have been specially trained to assist those seeking an annulment. They help the petitioner prepare the necessary materials and provide ongoing support until the case is resolved.
There are approximately 60 advocates working across Mercer, Monmouth, Burlington and Ocean counties. Prospective petitioners will have an opportunity to speak with an annulment advocate during the information evening and, if desired, make an appointment to initiate the process for annulment.
Other dates and locations are as follows; Feb. 21 in St. Aloysius Church, 935 Bennetts Mills Rd., Jackson; Feb. 25, St. Charles Borromeo Church, 2226 Riverton Rd., Cinnaminson and March 11, St. Ann Church, 1253 Lawrence Rd., Lawrenceville. All events will begin at 7:30 p.m. and end by 9:30 p.m.
No registration is required. Annulment Information Evenings are hosted by the diocesan Tribunal. For more information, contact Roseimelda Moore, Office of Tribunal at 609-406-7434 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.