BARLING -- The Mass of the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time at Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Barling was anything but ordinary.
On Saturday, Oct. 22 cars spilled on to the streets surrounding the parking lot. Elegantly dressed guests mingled with Saturday evening Mass-goers. Tenor George Mann sang "Ave Maria," and a brass ensemble joined the organist for the entrance and recessional hymns.
Parishioners Karen Barton and Adam Weisenfels were joined in marriage just as they wanted to be, at a regularly scheduled vigil Mass attended by parishioners.
"I started attending Sacred Heart of Mary Church after getting to know the ladies in my mom's quilting group," Karen Weisenfels said. "I seemed to fit right in. I liked attending a small, cozy, family-oriented parish with all my friends."
The idea of getting married during the vigil Mass turned out to be pleasing to the couple and their pastor, Father Henry Mischkowiuski.
"A friend from Mena told me that she had gotten married during a regular weekend Mass in the early 1990s," Karen Weisenfels said. "Before Adam and I got engaged we discussed the idea with Father Henry and got the ball rolling. We all thought that it would fit our personalities because our church family is our family too. Because Father Henry says Mass at Sts. Sabina and Mary (in Jenny Lind) at 4:30 p.m., he wouldn't have been able to come to our reception if we got married earlier in the day. Getting married at the regular 6 p.m. Mass worked out well for all of us."
On the night of the wedding, ushers escorted the couple's parents to their seats, and Paul Weisenfels, Adam's father, served as lector. After the bride reached the altar, the entrance hymn was sung. The Scripture readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time were used. Following the reading of the Gospel, Father Mischkowiuski put a white stole over his green vestments and performed the wedding ceremony.
Father Mischkowiuski added words from Chapter 1 of the Book of Ruth to the couple's vows. "Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God," and in his homily he shared the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson as a formula for a long happy marriage. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of," he shared.
The couple decided not to have a maid of honor and best man as witnesses.
"Our mothers witnessed the marriage document, but the whole parish was our witness," Adam Weisenfels said. "I liked the idea of our wedding being open to everyone."
The parish's witness was symbolized by the bride's and groom's mothers using their candles to light individual candles held by members of the congregation. The nuptial candle was illuminated by the lights of the parish.
During their one-year engagement, the couple planned each aspect of their wedding. Karen Weisenfels designed and printed the invitations on linen fabric. They ironed the fabric on to butcher paper from the family business, Paul's Meat Market. They spent several days decorating the parish center in a fall theme and ordered a catered dinner.
"We had 60 people at our rehearsal dinner," Karen Weisenfels said, "and we served barbecue sandwiches in honor of our first date in 2005."
Karen, 33, and Adam, 29, met when she visited Paul's Meat Market to buy barbecue sandwiches for her co-workers' lunches.
The rehearsal dinner was held in their new home, right across the street from the church. Members of the parish had told Karen about the house, and she and Adam fell in love with it. The couple worked on fixing it up for several months before their wedding and completed their move as soon as they got back from their honeymoon.
The parish even gave Karen a bridal shower a few weeks before her wedding.
"We had three flower girls," Karen said. "My great nieces and two of our goddaughters, but I didn't have any bridesmaids. It was fun to have my honorary bridesmaids throw a shower for me."
Although the vigil Mass lasted almost two hours, the bride and groom weren't the only ones glowing as they left the church to the strains of Handel's "Water Music." The entire congregation learned something about the role of the parish in every Catholic marriage because of Adam and Karen Weisenfels' decision to share their wedding day with them.
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