The journey towards the annulment of my first marriage and full reconciliation with the Church began in early 2012. However, I had been struggling with the psychological, physical and mental stresses of a failed marriage since 2007.
The end of the civil proceedings in 2011 allowed me to proceed with the petition for annulment in the Catholic Church.
Having just gone through a slow, painful and expensive civil divorce involving lawyers, sadness, anger and much negativity, I did not wish to have to live through the whole experience all over again. In addition, I knew little about what would be involved in the entire process.
In the meantime, I had also met my current wife, and it was far more tempting to continue our lives in a modern secular model.
By comparison, the Catholic Church’s firm stance against divorce and continued honouring of the marriage sacrament seemed archaic and wholly unfair. I was also made aware that I could not receive Holy Communion due to my new relationship, and this only increased the feeling of alienation from the Church.
Fortunately, I was repeatedly encouraged to make enquiries about the annulment process by family members and past mentors.
My new partner also started to attend RCIA sessions and I too began to feel a strong urge to reconcile fully with the Church.
My advocate, Fr Adrian Yeo was always sensitive and kind. During our meetings, he explained the implications, steps and procedures that would follow the application for annulment. The Tribunal members were very adept at probing for answers in an unobtrusive and sensitive manner.
The total cost of the annument was non-prohibitive and at no point did I feel as pressured, stressed or strung-out as in the civil proceedings. More importantly, I did not have to meet or deal with my ex-wife although she was called to participate in the process. The entire process was less intimidating and painful than I had feared.
The most challenging aspect of the annulment process had to be the writing of the pre-statement for the official petition.
There was much soul-searching, recollecting and raking up of past events: the flaws, mistakes, plastered-over cracks, blind spots, and most importantly, realisation of my errors and expectations. It was absolutely humbling.
The introspection helped to deepen my understanding of marriage. This helped me to identify and correct the critical mistakes made before, and to see what is truly essential in a successful marriage.
Taking that big leap in seeking the guidance of the tribunal has been one of the most important steps in the journey towards healing.
The ensuing feelings of closure, release and inner peace since receiving my annulment has been something that I cannot explain well with words alone. It has given me a sense of completion and wholeness. In a way, I felt almost like the prodigal son being welcomed back to the fold.
Being given this opportunity to return to full communion with the Church and to live life to the fullest again is an experience worth more than its weight in gold.
This testimony was published in Catholic News 17 May 2015.