The Diocese of Fresno says they have received reports of illegitimate Catholic ceremonies being performed outside of the church for money.
The diocese says multiple people have reported the celebrations of baptisms, first communions, confirmations and weddings that are seemingly Catholic are being offered to be performed at places like homes or other non-parish locations for a cost.
According to Father John Shearer at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, red flags of these illegitimate ceremonies might be substantial fees, a lack of preparation like classes or counseling for the sacrament and taking place in non-parish location.
Father Shearer says that if the ceremony is not legitimate, it won't be recognized under the Catholic Church. He says that can be devastating news to have to deliver to a newly married couple.
“I have had a few cases like that and I have had to explain to them," said Shearer. "I try to handle that sensitively and then gently guide them towards having their marriage validated in the church.”
The Diocese of Fresno wants parishioners to know which parishes are indeed part of the Diocese so they are not confused and led astray – especially by someone who identifies them self as Catholic.
All parishes are listed on the diocesan website.