CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT! It is wonderful that you have recognized God’s call for the two of you to walk through life together toward God! The whole Church is glad and made stronger by the gift of your love in God to each other and to the world. The Church wants your marriage to be wildly successful. It is here to support you throughout your marriage.
Office for Parish Life
Bernadette R. Rudolph
Director of Family and Community Development
570-207-2213, ext. 1104
Here at the initial stages, we commend you for recognizing the holiness of your marriage by coming to the Church for the sacrament. Maybe you have an active relationship with God so it is a natural step to see God in your marriage. Maybe you are not very involved in religion or even not sure God exists, but something in you sees that your marriage is about something deeper. This depth is God. Your whole married life will take place within God, who is Love itself. (1Jn 4:8) By recognizing that fact, you have already enhanced your marriage, because you are letting God be a player –and God always enriches and brings love and life.
The steps that the Church asks of you as you prepare for marriage may seem to you to be “hoops” you have to jump through. We invite you to see them differently. Each of us exists for the purpose of becoming one with God. Each of us follows a unique path to get to God. Your marriage is the path God is inviting you to walk to reach God. So the steps the Church asks you to take are the beginning of a spiritual journey that will make both of you into better, holier, more loving people each day of your lives. Enjoy these first steps! See them as part of your lifelong journey. Let the Church be an aid for you in these initial steps and throughout your life.
If possible, please begin the process of preparing for marriage by contacting your parish 9-12 months in advance of the wedding date. This will give you enough time to 1) prepare yourselves spiritually, 2) grow in your relationship, recognizing the gifts you bring and your particular challenges, and 3)complete the paperwork and preparation process.
Web Video: “I Do: What Happens at a Catholic Wedding,” www.foryourmarriage.org/saying-i-do-what-happens-at-a-catholic-wedding/
During preparation for marriage in the Diocese of Scranton, you can expect to:
- Meet one or more times with your parish priest, a deacon or pastoral staff member to discuss the sacrament of marriage and your relationship, to learn about guidelines and procedures, to gather information needed for Church records and to set a tentative wedding date.
- Take the FOCCUS survey –or a similar premarital inventory. This is a series of questions that you and your fiancé answer separately; your answers are compared in a report, which you will go over with the person preparing you for marriage. By comparing and contrasting your views on a wide range of topics pertinent to married life, you can explore your relationship, think about what each of you is bringing to marriage and become more aware of your strengths and challenges.
- Attend the enrichment program the priest specifies. It may include a Pre-Cana Day of Reflection and/or sessions with a mentor couple.
- Obtain Natural Family Planning (NFP) instruction.
- Plan your wedding liturgy with the assistance of a priest, deacon, or liturgist.
Here is a collection of articles from a great resource for all the stages of married life, www.foryourmarriage.org, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
- Marriage as a Sacrament
- The Vocation of Marriage
- Planning a Catholic Wedding
- Natural Family Planning
- Marital Spirituality by Joann Heaney-Hunter, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology, St. John’s University (NY)
- How to Include Service to Others in Your Wedding Ceremony
- Frequently Asked Questions by Engaged Couples
- Must-Have Conversations
What is a PreCana Day of Reflection?
Some pastors require engaged couples whom they will marry to attend a Diocesan PreCana Day of Reflection. Each runs from 8:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. on a Saturday or a Sunday. They are offered at multiple sites around the diocese January through November.
The days of reflection are designed to help the engaged couple reflect on and discuss significant issues involved in married life, such as the families in which they were raised, finances, children, sexuality, moral decision making, values, communication styles and skills and spirituality. These are topics the US Catholic Conference of Bishops as well as licensed marriage counselors see as essential for couples to discuss BEFORE marriage. (http://www.foryourmarriage.org/dating-engaged/must-have-conversations/)
Besides giving the couple time to talk about these topics, the PreCana Days of Reflection also provide information in these areas from Catholic Church teaching as well as the social sciences and the financial world.
Presenters are married couples who give witness to how to succeed through good times and bad with God’s help. They give practical information and explain the holiness of marriage and the role God and the Church have to play.
In answer to the question, “What was effective about the presenting couple/presenter?”
“They are living examples that through daily trials and tribulation you can still have a successful marriage.”
“I thought the couple was perfect. I thought this was going to be boring BUT I really enjoyed myself and was happy to come.”
“They had realistic and relatable expectations and experiences.”
“They were not preaching at us but teaching us, giving us tools to make decisions. The humor was a big plus also.”
“Most importantly is they truly believe what they present.”
“It was great to get healthy perspectives from two couples with different backgrounds who are very in tune with their marriages. Very comfortable and not ‘preachy.’ Great and honest discussions.”
“GREAT REAL LIFE STUFF. Thank you for the Budget Sheet.”
“Excellent talkers who were at ease discussing their personal experiences sharing specific issues about their personal lives that showed they are human just like us.”
“Great presentation. The set up is a good way! Great family values were taught.”
“It was excellent.”
“For the couples to come to the class with an open mind and heart.”
“Great overall and would recommend to others.”
“Come to this class.”
“Loved the exercises and dialogue between couples. Maybe more of these?”
“It was very good! Very helpful! Thank you!”
“Thanks for everything! You really helped us.”
“I was pleasantly surprised. The day went by far more quickly than I had anticipated.”
The Office for Parish Life recommends Catholic Marriage Prep Class (http://www.catholicmarriageprepclass.com/) because it covers many of the same topics as the diocesan program. (Both are based on the Marriage in the Lord program from the Archdiocese of Chicago.)
This course is also offered in Spanish. http://www.preparacionmatrimonialcatolica.com/?utm_source=Marriage+Ministries+Minutes+for+November+2013&utm_campaign=MM+Minutes+Email+-+2013-1114&utm_medium=
Marriage Prep Topics include:
Conflict and Forgiveness
Children and Parenting
Natural Family Planning
Theology of the Body
Faith and Prayer
Liturgy and Ceremony
Sacrament of Marriage
Family of Origin
Keeping Sex Alive
Goal Setting and Money Matters
For a fuller explanation of the topics, go to http://www.catholicmarriageprepclass.com/topics/
This program is provided by Marriage Ministries an initiative of The Marriage Group and the Family Ministries Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago. They can be reached at 912 Military St, Port Huron, MI 48060 or by calling (US) 1.855.773.2262 or (International) +1.773.598.5706 or going to firstname.lastname@example.org. Marriage Ministries is a member of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers. Courses, products and services offered by and through this website are considered marriage / relationship education, not counseling services.
- Parishes that offer marriage preparation in Spanish:
- St. John Neumann Parish, Scranton, 570-344-6159
- Most Holy Trinity Parish, Mt Pocono, 570-839-7138
- St. Nicholas Parish, Wilkes-Barre, 570-823-7736
- Holy Cross Parish, Olyphant, 570-489-0752
What is FOCCUS?
“The FOCCUS© Inventory is designed to help engaged couples appreciate their unique relationship, learn more about themselves, and discuss topics important to their lifelong marriage.” www.FOCCUSinc.com. It is often used by parishes as part of the marriage preparation program because it helps an engaged couple recognize their strengths and the areas that they need to work on.
FOCCUS is NOT a test and no one will look at the results and deny you marriage. FOCCUS simply raises awareness to issues a couple may not have been aware of, issues that should be discussed and worked out prior to making a marital commitment.
FOCCUS is a survey which each person takes separately to get their views on a variety of topics that are part of married life. Then each person’s answer is compared with the other’ s and a record of the comparison is sent to the minister or married sponsor couple who is preparing them for marriage. The minister or married sponsor couple next meets with the engaged couple, usually three to six times, to talk through the results.
Remember: this is not just an arbitrary requirement but an opportunity to communicate more fully to each other who you are. It is meant to help you strengthen your relationship and work on issues so they do not become problems. The Church wants your marriage to be wildly successful and wishes to assist you through this helpful tool.
If your parish requires FOCCUS for marriage preparation, someone in the parish office will register you. They will need a separate email address for each of you. Then FOCCUS Inc. will send you both emails with log in information. (NOTE: Keep your eyes open for these emails because your computer may not recognize the FOCCUS address and send them to your junk mail folder.)
At a time that is convenient for you, you next go to www.FOCCUSinc.com and click on the yellow “COUPLES Log In” box in the lower left corner. Follow the directions that appear and take the survey. You and your fiancé do not need to take the survey at the same time or even on the same day.
The results will go directly via email to the minister or sponsor couple who will be reviewing them with you.
They will arrange with you to meet and go over the results.