It is the gorgeous summertime, in the midst of the month of August. The people of St. Raphael’s Old Catholic Church are about to participate in the “Celebration and Blessing of Marriage,” between Frederick Lloyd Fuller and Renee Joléne Branconnier. The young couple have been attending the Old Catholic Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist on Sundays, for some time. Frederick has presented himself for the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Confirmation so that he and Renee Joléne can receive the Holy Mysteries together. All are conscious in the midst of harvest-time, that these two, Fred and Renee, are about to begin a new life this day. Family and friends, realizing that the Cathedral of St. Raphael’s could not provide seating for the over 300 invited guests, have arranged for seating and viewing to be provided in the Rectory Gardens of St. Francis, for the overflow congregation. Each and every service of matrimony has its own significant features. Is it the ensemble of musicians tucked away in the narthex of the Cathedral, who will play the Bridal Entourage Entry and during the preparation for the prayers and the signing of the register? Or is it the little lad, so grown-up in his black tuxedo, one of the ring bearers, who nevertheless consoles himself in procession with a lollipop stuck in his mouth? Or is it the thoughtfulness of the bridegroom as he reassures his bride and helps to smooth out and straighten a necklace worn by his future wife? All of these and more, as the Bishop and his assistant priests grow conscious of the attentiveness of both Frederick and Renee Joléne as they make their vows and listen intently to the Holy Gospel of our Lord. The Rt. Rev. +Gérard LaPlante gives a short homily, during the lighting of the three great candle lights by the Rev. Fr. Jürgen Schmode. “Every perfect marriage is symbolized in a triangle: the triangle of husband and wife and God.” On this day, following upon the commemoration of the Assumption of the Mother of God the Bishop joined the hands of the young couple with his Episcopal stole and later says, “Let Christ reign not only in your hearts but make room for Him and His Holy Mother in your home.” As if in answer to this Episcopal direction, the couple and the congregation respond with the Our Father in four languages (as is the custom at St. Raphael’s), the Angelus and the Gloria Patria. Everyone gathered within the precincts of the Cathedral Church and in the walled garden of St. Francis are visibly moved by the Episcopal blessing. This is followed by the adoration and kissing of the Altar Crucifix by Mr. and Mrs. Frederick and Renee Fuller. They then depart their Church to continue the festivities with family and friends. Was this why the congregation on their leaving greeting Bishop and priests, commented again and again, “What a beautiful service!” Once again the People of God were expressing their appreciation to the Holy Church for providing them with a service of solemnity, significance, and strengthening, beautifully wedded together in worship.
“May the Holy Angels continue to smile upon Fred and Renee.”
Written by the Rt. Rev. Fr. L.M. McFerran, B.A., L.Th., M.A., Ph.D., R.S.W.,
Auxiliary Bishop of the Old Catholic Church of BC
1927 – 2007 RIP