About Us » Frequently Asked Questions
The questions below address inquiries we most often answer by personal e-mail. If you have a general question about the Catholic faith and Church teaching, CLICK HERE for our Catholic Faith FAQs.
The marriage invalidity (annulment) process begins at the parish level, where a Petition for Declaration of Invalidity is completed with the assistance of the pastor, priest, deacon, or Pastoral Associate; the parish official then will forward the Petition and other necessary documentation (baptism certificates for Catholic parties, marriage certificate and final divorce decree) to the Tribunal and the Petitioner will be contacted for a deposition and personal interview with a Tribunal Auditor. That is the official “opening” of the case. The former spouse then is contacted for his or her participation and deposition, the witnesses are contacted, and any other necessary evidence is collected for presentation to the Judges and the Defender of the Bond who will review the case and evaluate the testimonies and evidence according to Church law; the Petitioner and his or her former spouse will be given the opportunity to review the testimonies and to respond to what they have read. The case then is ready for argument, and a definitive sentence will be issued either in favor of the invalidity of the marriage in question, or upholding the validity of the marriage bond. The Petitioner and his or her former spouse will be notified of the final decision of the Judges and will be given the opportunity to read the argument and the final decision before it is sent to the Appellate Court for ratification or comment. In addition, a party who objects to the decision of the Tribunal has the right to appeal formally either to the Appellate Court of the Boston Province, or directly to Rome, for its review of the case. Once ratified, the case is closed, the parties are notified of the outcome, and if appropriate are given the decree. Sometimes special conditions are attached to a decision and must be fulfilled before a party may enter into subsequent marriage in a Catholic Church. A lengthier discussion of the process may be found on our "Single Again & Annulments" Web page.
The Diocese of Manchester provides support to New Hampshire residents and charitable agencies through New Hampshire Catholic Charities and the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund.
If you are an individual in need of help, visit New Hampshire Catholic Charities for information on what services they provide.
If you are a charitable organization looking for support, regardless of religious affiliation, learn more about the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund.
Though we are unable to provide direct support for individuals and organizations outside of New Hampshire, the Diocese of Manchester does actively support a number of agencies that do.
For charitable organizations in the U.S., visit the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
No matter how long you have been away and no matter the reason, we invite you to consider renewing or beginning your relationship with the Catholic Church. To speak with someone, contact Eileen Smith at (603) 669-3100 ext. 174, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backgrounder on the Papal Honor Bearing the Title “Monsignor”
By Benedict T. Nguyen, M.T.S., J.C.L. Chancellor, Diocese of La Crosse
The title of “Monsignor” is a title of distinction given by the Pope to certain priests in the Roman Catholic Church as part of a papal honor recognizing the priest’s service to the Church. The diocesan bishop nominates candidates for the honor and submits the names, biographies, etc., to the Holy See. The Holy Father then, if he wishes, confers the honor onto the priest. Once decided by the Pope, the Vatican Secretariat of State issues a diploma designating the new title and rank and recognizing the newly-made monsignor’s service to the Church.
Historically, the monsignorate dates from the 14th century when the papal court operated for a period of time in Avignon, France. At that time, bishops were referred to as “mon seigneur,” French for “my lord.” Priests who worked in the papal curia, the administrative and judicial offices of the pope, were also referred to as “monsignor” and were allowed to wear some of the regalia of a bishop.
Today, there are generally three grades of papal honors that bear the title “Monsignor” – the Protonotary Apostolic, the Prelates of Honor to His Holiness, and the Chaplains to His Holiness. Priests who are monsignors of one rank may be elevated from one rank to another at the will of the Pope.
The Protonotary Apostolic is conferred predominantly on priests who serve on seven specific positions in the Roman Curia. These are referred to as Protonotaries of Number. Aside from these seven, the honor of Protonotary Apostolic can also be conferred on priests outside of the Roman Curia. These are called Protonotaries Apostolic Supernumerary. A Protonotary Apostolic wears a black cassock with red buttons and piping along with a fuchsia sash. A fuchsia cape can also be worn on special occasions.
The second grade of monsignor is the Prelate of Honor to His Holiness. This grade was historically associated with the chamberlain of the papal court and today can also be conferred to priests outside of the papal court. A Prelate of Honor to His Holiness, during liturgies, wears a bishop’s choir cassock, which is fuchsia in color with red buttons, piping and cuffs, and a fuchsia sash. Prelates of Honor to His Holiness may also wear a bishop’s black cassock, which also has red buttons, piping and a fuchsia sash.
The third grade of monsignor is the Chaplain to His Holiness. This honor can be conferred to priests inside or outside of the Roman Curia. A Chaplain to His Holiness wears a black cassock with fuchsia piping and buttons along with a fuchsia sash.
Priests who are given papal honors and thus named monsignors are considered to be members of the papal household and thus are listed in the Annuario Pontificio (the papal yearbook). In 1969, the custom of Chaplains of His Holiness (a subset of the second grade of monsignor) surrendering the title upon the death and burial of the conferring pontiff was suppressed. Today, all monsignors retain their titles upon the death and burial of a Pope.
In short, the answer is that while parishes are bound to minister to a specific geography and care for those within it, individuals are not bound to worship at that specific parish.
A parish has a defined geography, which in New Hampshire means that each parish is responsible for ministering the sacraments to Catholics within the towns or, in a city, neighborhoods in close proximity. This ensures that no area of a diocese is neglected from reasonable access to Holy Sacraments. National parishes, such as Polish, French or Portuguese parishes, are charged not with a geographic boundary but with a cultural one, and care for the people in areas who share a common language.
While a parish may have a responsibility to care for all Catholics within your community, you as a Catholic can choose to celebrate at another parish. The gifts of different parishes call different people.