More Marrying outside of Faiths, Counselors Say

Article excerpt

More young Catholics, Protestants and Jews are marrying outside their faiths than ever before, according to area clergy and prenuptial counselors. With less rigidity on the part of church hierarchies and relatives, they feel less pressure to become one-denominational families.

"Different spokes connected to the same hub" is how Barbara and Rick Bardle describe their dual religious practices. Barbara Bardle and the Bardle children belong to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in St. Charles. Rick Bardle is a member of Grace United Church of Christ in St. Peters, where he serves as president of the church council and head of the visitation committee.

Susan Caulfield, who is Jewish, intertwines religious traditions with her Irish-American husband, Sean Caulfield. Susan Caulfield attends Mass with her husband at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church in St. Charles, and he accompanies her and her family in west St. Louis County to High Holidays services. Neither has exerted pressure on the other to convert, and they hope to expose their children to both religions.

Lifelong Lutheran Betty Boschert of St. Charles has raised six children in the Catholic faith of her husband, Paul Boschert. The Boschert children attended Catholic schools, where Boschert served as a volunteer.

Boschert belongs to Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Charles. She is busy working on the 50th reunion of her Immanuel Lutheran School confirmation class.

Betty Boschert's reasons for seeking commonality in the couple's religious beliefs rather than convert echoed the younger couples' thoughts.

"I'm a stubborn person. I was born and raised a Lutheran, and I stayed a Lutheran," she said. "Paul and I have had disagreements, for sure, but we both believe in the Lord Jesus and in the commitment of marriage."

Dot and Jack Bizelli of St. Peter's Catholic Church in St. Charles have been counseling engaged couples for 20 years in a program called Two Become One. The program is a six-week couple-to-couple dialogue between a husband and wife and an engaged pair. They cover questions on finances, in-laws, careers, children, and religion, with the married couple sharing their personal experiences.

Those of different faiths are encouraged to settle religious issues before they marry, Dot Bizelli said.

"They should decide if they want their children brought up with a smattering of both religions or one faith and, if so, which one," Bizelli said. "The main thing is that they don't try to change one another or put one another's faith down."

Bizelli said that 20 years ago, families and churches were more likely to pressure young people to marry within their faith. …