An often-overlooked casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic gets some attention by Brian Fraga in Our Sunday Visitor:
Erin Mongold always imagined a church packed with her closest family and friends on the day she would walk down the aisle.
But when the church doors opened on her wedding day this month, the pews were empty. The only people there other than her and the groom were two concelebrating priests, a cantor, an organist and a photographer.
“It was very emotional,” said Mongold, 28, who scaled back her plans for a large wedding because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mongold and her fiance, Chase, decided to get married sooner than their scheduled wedding date rather than risk having to postpone it.
“We wanted to move (the wedding date) up. We wanted to actually be able to get married,” Mongold told Our Sunday Visitor.
Many engaged Catholic couples across the country are in a similar predicament. Bishops everywhere have cancelled public Masses and are following health officials’ recommendations that most gatherings in a church have less than 10 people and that those present observe social distancing protocols and stay 6 feet away from each other.
Some bishops are allowing their pastors to preside at wedding ceremonies, with strict conditions. Other bishops have ruled out weddings altogether — for now — on grounds that limiting them to a handful of immediate family is not feasible.
“She was walking down the aisle by herself, with the groom standing by himself, with no family anywhere. It was pretty surreal.”
…Erin and Chase Mongold decided to have a small wedding ceremony March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, at Father [Brian] O’Brien’s church in Stillwater [Oklahoma]. It was an emotionally wrenching decision, but Erin said they did not want to jeopardize their relatives’ health by inviting them to the church.
Father O’Brien arranged the cantor and organist, and had a couple of women from the parish help Erin get ready for the ceremony. The women opened the church doors for Erin, who wore a white dress and carried a bouquet of flowers. Chase wore a black tux with a boutonniere made by the parish women.
Tears fell down Erin’s eyes as she walked down the aisle. In such a moment, Father O’Brien usually looks around the church to see the proud looks of the bride’s parents, grandparents and close friends.
“And there was none of that,” Father O’Brien said. “She was walking down the aisle by herself, with the groom standing by himself, with no family anywhere. It was pretty surreal.”