Congratulations on your engagement! Your decision to enter into the relationship of marriage is a wonderful sign of hope and strength to the faith community of St. Monica. You have reached your decision after much discussion and prayerful thought, but it is just the first step in the process of building a successful marriage. With your family and friends, you will be sharing your commitment with the community and become for us a sign and symbol of God’s great love for the human family.
The process of marriage preparation at St. Monica is two-fold. 1) We have a program to help you prepare for married life – the rest of your life and 2) We will help you prepare for the celebration of your wedding day. Please be sure to read the content below and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
1. Marriage Information Night
Those wishing to be married at St. Monica Catholic Church, or prepared here for a wedding elsewhere, must attend one of our Marriage Information Nights that are generally held on the 4th Wednesday of each month and lasts approximately an hour. Attending is the first step in marriage preparation at St. Monica and must be completed before any specific wedding arrangements can be made. During the meeting you will be given an overview of the marriage preparation process as well as information about the FOCCUS communication survey and counseling sessions, Engaged Encounter weekend and our Start Right, Stay Connected communication workshop. There is also a brief presentation on the Catholic Theology of Marriage. You will also hear from a recently married couple who will speak about their experience of preparation at St. Monica.
Schedule for 2017
January 18*, February 22*, March 22, April 26, May 24, June 28
Meetings are held in the Caruso Community Center A/B at 7:15 pm unless otherwise noted with (*).
*Meeting will be held in the Grand Pavilion
Please complete the Marriage Intake Form below and bring a copy to this meeting. No RSVP required. Just show up!
Marriage Intake Form Please type your information into the form before you print.
2. FOCCUS survey – Meeting with FOCCUS counselor
The Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study Inventory (FOCCUS) is a tool to help couples explore the many dimensions of their relationship and married life together. This is not a test, but rather, a tool for couples to explore areas of compatibility and incompatibility. You will take the FOCCUS survey online, then be assigned to work with one of our IMAGO trained, Marriage and Family Counselors.
3. Engaged Encounter
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles requires that couples who've never been married attend the Engaged Encounter weekend. It is a two-day retreat to help couples prepare for marriage, learn more about each other and gain important relationship skills to build a successful marriage. You can sign up for the engaged encounter weekend at www.ceeofla.org. More information about the weekend can be found at www.la-archdiocese.org/org/familylife/Pages/cee.aspx
Couples who've previously been married in a civil ceremony or couples where one or both have been previously married are required to attend a special Engaged Encounter session designed specifically for these situations. Please contact Candy Metoyer at
4. Start Right, Stay Connected Workshop
Our marriage and family counselors, Dr. Michael DiPaolo and Mary Kay Cocharo have developed a one-day communication workshop to further strengthen couples’ communication skills for committed relationships.
You will be provided with a schedule at Marriage Information Night.
5. Meet with priest
Once you have attended Marriage Information Night, our sacrament coordinator will contact you to set up your first appointment with one of our priests--at which time, if you are free to marry, you will set a date for your wedding.
6. Submit Required Documents & Fees
At Marriage Information Night, you will be given a booklet that will provide complete details for planning a wedding at Monica w/marriage preparation AND marriage preparation with a wedding planned elsewhere. The details will include a checklist of all legal documents and fees.
Since marriage celebrates the unbreakable commitment between a man and a woman who are free to make this mature decision in the community of believers, certain documents are required to establish your sacramental status within the Church, your freedom from any previous unions, as well as sworn statements attesting to your clear understanding of the nature and responsibilities of Marriage. When a Catholic prepares to marry someone from another faith tradition, a specific document or "dispensation" is also required. The following items are required documents.
1. Can I get married at St. Monica? What are the requirements?
Anyone can get married at St. Monica, as long as either the bride or groom is baptized Roman Catholic. To be given preference of wedding dates/times and be eligible for our discounted parishioner wedding fees, at least one of parties must also be an active, registered parishioner of St. Monica for at least one year from the date you attend Marriage Information Night. If you do not live within the parish boundaries and/or are not a registered parishioner, you CAN be married at St. Monica, however, we cannot guarantee your first choice of wedding date and time, and a different fee schedule will apply.
Where do we begin?
After attending Marriage Information Night, wedding arrangements begin with an interview of the couple by one of our priests. Our sacrament coordinator will contact you to set up an appointment. This is for all couples whether you are getting married at St. Monica or at another Catholic church.At this meeting, the priest will fill out the Pre-Nuptial Inquiry, one of the required documents listed on pages 4-5. Also, provided there are no special circumstances that arise, couples will set a date and time for the ceremony at this first meeting. There is at least a six-month preparation time required for marriage. If you’ve been previously married, you must bring with you A Declaration of Nullity (annulment) to this meeting.
2. When do we set the date?
Provided there are no special circumstances that arise, a date and time of the ceremony will be set at the first meeting with a priest. There is at least a six-month preparation time required for marriage.
3. What are the times available for Weddings?
Weddings are celebrated on Saturdays at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, as well as on Fridays at 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Preference is given to active, registered parishioners for the 3:00 pm Saturday wedding slot. Weddings are not celebrated on Sundays at St. Monica.
4. Who will answer our questions about the wedding itself?
The questions which specifically deal with the liturgy itself, i.e., the choice of readings, whether or not to have a "full Mass" or a "ceremony", etc., will be answered by the priest you have chosen to witness your marriage. Questions concerning things like music, floral arrangements and decorations, photographs and the like is explained by our wedding coordinators. Our wedding coordinators provide an invaluable service to each couple, which includes scheduling the rehearsal itself, and making sure everything runs smoothly on the day of your wedding. You will be assisted by our associate director of music and liturgy, Jeffrey Bonilla, and St. Monica cantors/vocalists in planning the music for your wedding.
5. What if we are getting married elsewhere?
For those couples being married in a Catholic Church outside the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we are happy to assist you with your marriage preparation. (1) We will refer you to an Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat, (2) sign each couple up with FOCCUS to take the FOCCUS inventory on-line, (3) have you meet with one of our marriage counselors, (4) have you complete the Pre-Nuptial Inquiry, (5) have you sign up for Start Right, Stay Connected Workshop, and (6) collect all required documents from you and forward them with the Pre-Nuptial Inquiry to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for their approval and forwarding to the Diocesan Office where you are to be married.
6. Are there any fees?
Yes. We have two different fee schedules. One is for those who are active in our parish and have been registered at least one year from the date you attend Marriage Information Night. The other schedule is for those who have been registered for less than one year or are not registered with the parish on the date they attend Marriage Information Night. We also have separate fees depending on if you want to get married at St. Monica w/marriage preparation vs. those who want to prepare here only and have their wedding elsewhere.
We also have a separate fee of $2000 for those couples who live outside our parish boundaries, are preparing elsewhere, and want to schedule the wedding only in our church.
7. If we get married at St. Monica, do we have to have a full Mass?
There are two different forms of the Rite of Marriage: the Rite of Marriage with Mass, and the Rite of Marriage Outside Mass. With a Mass is the prefered form of Catholic wedding liturgy when both the bride and the groom are Catholic. The Rite of Marriage Outside Mass is preferred when a Catholic person marries a baptized person who is not Catholic or an unbaptized person.
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding -- we are honored that you have chosen St. Monica as the spiritual center of your marriage! We are excited to help you plan the perfect music for your wedding day. Please use this online "self-service" resource to facilitate your planning and give time to carefully choose your music.
Due to the high number of weddings that are performed at St. Monica, it is policy that guest musicians are not allowed. This is to insure the quality of music that St. Monica is known for and to make your wedding day go as smoothly and flawlessly as possible. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Please Note: Once you have decided on whom you'd like to participate in your wedding, please contact Sacraments Coordinator Dorothy Butcher with your choice at or (310) 566-1523. She will contact you with the next steps.
Andrew Bennett, a lyric tenor from Santa Monica, CA, began studying voice as a baritone at the age of 16 in the studio of Seth Riggs. He soon moved into the tenor range and repertoire. "Andrew Bennett's voice is even from top to bottom with a clear, crystalline, sweet consistency that, in this day and age, is very rare. His is a beautiful quality, always a pleasure to hear," says Mr. Riggs.
Andrew attended the University of Southern California studying with Elizabeth Hynes and in 2009, graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. He regularly performs with multiple companies in Southern California both in lead and supporting roles and has sung with the San Diego Opera chorus for the past four seasons. Mr. Bennett is a recipient of an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions San Diego District and a resident artist at Redlands Opera Theatre. He sings in various languages, such as Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, German and English. He has been cantoring and singing in choirs for over 12 years and, being classically trained, he can sing in styles ranging from Chant to Contemporary song. Andrew can be heard at the 11:30am Sunday Mass.
| Sample 1: Ave Maria |
|Sample 2: Because|
Helena Buscema has been a cantor and liturgy planner for St. Monica and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for over 20 years. She is proficient in singing styles of Contemporary Christian, Gospel and Traditional songs. Helena began cantoring when she was a teenager at St. Cecilia Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. She received training as a cantor and liturgy planner at Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA through the years.
Helena has been a professional singer for TV commercials, TV shows and feature films for over 20 years as well. She also cantors and plans music for Christ the King Church in Hollywood at the 8:30am Mass on Sunday. At Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood for over 15 years, she has been the music director, song leader and plans music for the service. You may hear Helena cantering/singing at the 5:30pm Sunday night Mass. For many years she has enjoyed singing and planning weddings with the brides and grooms to give them a beautiful Nuptial Mass.
| Sample 1: Love Never Fails |
| Sample 2: Blessed Are Those Who Love You |
Michelle Crenshaw is a professional singer and composer with over 30 years experience singing sacred and secular music. She attended Catholic high school and college in St Louis, Mo. Michelle was ordained in Christian ministry in 1993. She is also an accomplished actress/vocalist with appearances on television, film, Broadway and numerous European theatrical tours.
In 2003 Ms Crenshaw relocated to L.A., found the St. Monica community and soon became an active member of the music ministry under the tutelage of veteran Liturgical Music Director Ed Archer. She completed RCIA and was confirmed at St Monica in 2006. Michelle has participated in numerous liturgical training workshops locally including the LA Religious Education Congress (2006-13), the Living With Passion Liturgical Conference (2004-5), and the Music Ministry Alive Liturgical Music Conference under the direction of composer David Haas with liturgical instruction from such notable Catholic composers as Marty Haugen, Bob Hurd, and Michael Joncas.
Ms Crenshaw taught Confirmation classes from 2004-06, taught weekly Bible study at St. Monica from 2007-2013, and served on the 1:15 Liturgical planning team from 2008-12. She is currently the founder and director of the SMCC Gospel Choir and serves as a guest soloist at various Masses as requested.
| Sample 1: Praise the Lord from the Heavens (feat. Dan Houze & Phil Cordaro) |
| Sample 2: Love Never Fails (feat. Phil Cordaro, Miriam Mayer & Harrison Crenshaw) |
Phoebe Crenshaw is a professional musician, graphic designer, and fine artist. Having been encouraged to pursue her passion for the arts at an early age, she has performed in musical, theater, television and studio productions since the age of three. She has been a part of our music and youth ministries at St.Monica and other parishes throughout Los Angeles for over a decade. In 2004 she pursued her vocation in liturgical music under the tutelage of Ed Archer, the former assoc. dir. of music and liturgy at St.Monica, and John Flagherty, director of liturgy and music. Since then she has attended, coordinated and participated in several liturgical music and faith formation workshops and events including internationally known Music Ministry Alive- a workshop geared towards educating Catholic youth on liturgy and encouraging them to use their musical talents to minister in their parishes. She feels incredibly blessed to have been given an opportunity to share her gifts in a way that gives back to her community- especially with couples embarking on the God-inspired journey of love and friendship that is marriage. She can be heard at the Saturday 5:30pm Vigil Mass, 9:30am Family Mass, 11:30am Traditional Mass and 1:15 Youth Mass.
Phoebe is a versatile alto/mezzo soprano whose heartfelt vocals soar in Alternative, Contemporary, Jazz, Soul, R+B, Legit, and Gospel vocal genres. She is frequently asked to sing classical selections such as Ave Maria and The Prayer as well. She loves singing as the main cantor, in a duet, or within an ensemble.
| Sample 1: Breathe (feat. John Rusnak) |
| Sample 2: Love Never Fails You (feat. Dan Houze and Phil Cordaro) |
Gary Denk is currently the music director and cantor of the 7:30am Sunday Mass. For many years he directed three of the weekend Masses at St. Monica. At that time it was also his job to plan the music and book the musicians for every wedding and funeral that occurred at St. Monica (2000 to 2006), which means he has planned hundreds of weddings. Gary spent five years studying to be a Catholic priest in college and graduate school, where he received extensive training as a cantor, as well as in voice, liturgy and theology. He has studied with several voice teachers: Bob Novotny in the seminary in Milwaukee; Danny Long and Charles Lewis, both jazzmen in Scottsdale; and the last being with the famed Seth Riggs here in LA. He loves improvisation which colors his artistic expression, edged with soul, whether when singing chant or ripping it up on a popular tune. When planning music he tries to be mindful of the sacred nature of the ceremony, while admitting there's a whole lot of play at play too. Gary sings solo or in a male/female duet.
| Sample 1: The Prayer (duet with Helena Buscema) |
|Sample 2: Hallelujah|
A versatile vocalist, Michael Gasparro can bring elegance and beauty to any wedding ceremony with smooth vocals and heartfelt sensibilities that lend themselves equally to classical pieces such as Ave Maria and contemporary Christian music alike. He made his way to Los Angeles in 2012 by way of Dallas, TX where he was raised Catholic and was involved with music from an early age. He has been singing at Catholic mass since childhood and been serving as a cantor and soloist for weddings for over 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Classical Voice from Baylor University where he honed his skills singing everything from Opera to Pop music.
After graduating he moved back to Dallas where he assisted the director of music at St. Ann Catholic parish for a year before taking on the role as music director for the Catholic Campus Minstry at Southern Methodist University (SMU). During his two years at SMU, he directed the student choir, trained cantors, accompanied for Nass on the piano, served as cantor, and planned the music for all liturgies. In January 2014, Michael began serving as a cantor at the 11:30 AM Mass at St. Monica and also can be heard occasionally at other churches in the area as a cantor and section leader in church choirs. He is excited to be singing for weddings at St. Monica and looks forward to helping create a beautiful and uplifting, liturgical experience for your special day.
| Sample 1: The Prayer (duet with Helena Buscema) |
| Sample 2: I Will Be Here |
Teresa Weiss is a soprano soloist and has served as a cantor since 2010. She has been singing as part of the Saturday 5:30pm Vigil Mass since 2010. She attended St. Monica Catholic High School and graduated in 2015. She currently attends Cal State University Northridge as a Speech Pathology major and aspires to be a speech therapist for disabled children and adults. She, along with her family, has been a part of St. Monica since the early 70’s; she is also an active participant around the community. She enjoys singing for all occasions and takes her job very seriously as being a part of an important day. Teresa also enjoys cantoring as well as being an additional singer behind lead vocals. She sings every style of music and has a wide vocal range. She began cantoring for weddings in 2012 and has thoroughly enjoyed it. She is hoping to do more in the future.
| Sample 1: I Give You My Heart |
| Sample 2: Hail Mary, Gentle Woman |