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Free Love: A Catholic Church Tries to Bring the Penny-Pinching Faithful Back Into the Fold 

Wednesday, Jun 25 2014
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Would it be considered outré to reclaim one's Catholic faith, if only to get a free wedding?

That question looms for any lapsed penitent in San Francisco who might take advantage of Operation I Do, a free marathon wedding service offered by St. Thomas More Catholic Church to consecrate more marriages within the faith.

It's the brainchild of Joe Espinueva, a member of the church's marriage council who was inspired by a vexing statistic in a 2011 edition of Catholic San Francisco newspaper: Between 1990 and 2010, the number of sacramental marriages dropped by 47 percent.

"I think personally it's the paperwork," Espinueva surmises, noting that people dislike the rigmarole of digging up old Baptismal certificates when it's easier to just get married in Vegas. "And people can't afford to get married in the church," he adds, pointing out that St. Thomas More normally charges an $800 wedding fee.

By shouldering that and other costs, the church has enticed scores of people to marry during its annual free wedding day — which includes a group reception and buffet dinner. This year's event will happen Aug. 16.

Those who get further caught up in the spirit might try the Catholic Exotic Cruise advertised in St. Thomas More's news bulletin. It could be a perfect honeymoon under God.

About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Bio:
Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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