By Father David Andel, JV
In his first Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis encourages the institutional Church to go out to the peripheries to encounter people and to bring them back into the fold of the Church. In his Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of Love” Pope Francis devotes a large section to care for the divorced and remarried, people who often see themselves on the periphery of Church life.
In an attempt to give a face to Pope Francis’ exhortation, the staff of the Office of Canonical Services goes twice a year to different parishes in the Diocese to meet with people who are interested in filling out a petition for a declaration of nullity of marriage (an annulment). We generally meet with about 30 people from 9:00 – 3:30; we review their written petition, ask them additional follow-up questions, and address any concerns they might have. If everything is in order, we begin their case that day. In the Diocese of San Bernardino, everything is free (since August 2014 there are NO FEES for any kind of help with annulments).
Although almost every parish in our Diocese has someone (called an ‘advocate’) trained to assist you with preparing an annulment petition, we have found that our presence helps alleviate some of this work in the parish and offers people a push to get started on an annulment. On Thursday, January 23rd, the Office of Canonical Services is going to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Chino. If you are ready to begin the annulment process, or if you would simply like more information, please see us on January 23rd. Anyone from Our Lady of Guadalupe or any parish in the surrounding area is welcome; however, we will not turn anyone away, no matter what parish you belong to.
Please come prepared! What do you need to do?
Bring the annulment application already filled out including a 4 - 8 page narrative answering all the questions. You can attain an application from your parish office, or online at https://sites.google.com/site/canonicalservices/church/formals.
You must bring a copy of your baptism certificate, a copy of your final decree of divorce, and a copy of the marriage license for each of your prior marriages (if you’ve been married more than once).
We must have an address, phone number, and email address for your ex-spouse(s). You do not need to contact him/her, but our office must contact your ex-spouse(s).
Bring addresses, phones numbers and email addresses of potential witnesses for your case; good witnesses include parents, siblings, friends and ex-in-laws.
Be prepared to spend an hour honestly answering detailed questions about the history of your relationship with your ex-spouse.
There is no cost or fee. We are grateful to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Rev. Ed Gomez for hosting this event. Your regular tithe to your parish is your partial return to the Lord for all He has given to you. The staff of the Office of Canonical Services will kindly, compassionately and confidentially guide you through the application for a marriage annulment.
Father David Andel is Judicial Vicar of the Diocese and the Director of the Diocesan Office of Canonical Services.