Programs help couples build a good marriage
Couples marrying in the archdiocese have a variety of ways to prepare for and sustain a lifetime of love.
Several programs help couples with marriage preparation. Other resources can help couples as they move through married life.
How a couple approaches marriage preparation can make a difference between a good marriage and a great marriage.
Couples who enter a marriage preparation program well in advance of their wedding are usually more relaxed and not pressured by arrangements for the ceremony.
Susan Hannibal of the archdiocesan Office of Laity and Family Life notes that rushing into a lifelong commitment is considered contrary to the meaning of marriage, which is a relationship not just with each other but also with God.
Couples are encouraged to contact a priest as soon as they become engaged, even if the intended date is a year or more away. Here they will learn the many options available for marriage preparation:
The "Today and All the Days of Your Life" marriage preparation program was developed by the archdiocesan Office of Laity and Family Life. It helps couples understand Catholic sacramental marriage, the vows they are making and their lifelong commitment.
Each of the program's eight segments illustrates one of the vows or promises made in the Catholic wedding ceremony. A short video clip per segment feature couples, deacons and priests telling their story. Each session includes time for engaged couples to reflect on questions in a workbook and share what they have learned together. Though the program shows how to handle difficulties, it also shows that marriage can be a lot of fun.
The program may be used one-on-one by a sponsor couple in a parish, in a small group or an archdiocesan class.
For information or to receive a schedule containing options for marriage preparation, call the Office of Laity and Family Life at (314) 792-7182 or visit archstl.org/stlcatholics.
Besides the archdiocesan classes and parish-based sponsor couple experiences, Engaged Encounter of St. Louis offers a weekend program at the Marianist Retreat and Conference Center in Eureka. Two married couples and a priest give presentations on how to make a mutual decision, sexual intimacy, family, children and more. Couples spend much of the weekend one-on-one discussing what is brought up in the presentations. This personal and intimate weekend helps soon-to-be-married couples focus on deepening their relationship, not only with each other but with God. Visit home.centurytel.net/stlengaged or call Jim and Cheri Zobel, (636) 379-0962.
Engaged Encounter Weekends of Illinois also offers classes. For upcoming dates or to register visit eeofs-il.org or call Ann or Deacon Gerry Bach at (618) 277-1652.
The Marriage Preparation Mini-Retreat meets on a Saturday and Sunday and is sponsored by St. Francis Xavier (College Church) Parish in Midtown. Couples reflect on God's presence in their lives and discuss many topics, including tools for learning more about each other, ways differences can enhance a relationship and better communication. Call Joe Milner at (314) 977-7318 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation Workshop is offered by St. Charles Lwanga Center as a Friday evening and full-day Saturday workshop. Call Norman Williams at (314) 367-7929.
Spanish-language marriage preparation is offered with facilitator couples who can give couples a bilingual or Spanish program. For information call Maria Lucrecia Knapp at (314) 830-1426.
Marriage preparation for engaged couples where one or both individuals have been married before addresses those who have been widowed or divorced (with an annulment). The Remarriage Program includes the course "Learning from the Past, Building for the Future." Another option is a mentor program, "Getting Remarried," that allows couples to meet with a trained, remarried facilitator couple. Participants learn skills for blended families.
The divorce rate for a second marriage is higher than for first marriages, pointing to the need for specific issues to be addressed. For information call Deborah Meister at (314) 792-7185. Additional facilitators are needed for the program as well.
Programs for marriage enrichment are offered to couples from newlyweds to those married many years. The archdiocesan Office of Apostolic Services lists upcoming programs on its web page, archstl.org/stlcatholics (click on Office of Laity and Family Life and marriage enrichment), and in its quarterly newsletter.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter presents weekends that strengthen marriages by teaching couples effective communication techniques for building closer relationships. Weekends start on a Friday evening and end on Sunday afternoon and are designed to energize and reconnect couples. The next weekend is scheduled April 27-29 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 4450 Evans Place, two miles from Lambert-St. Louis Airport. For more information, call (314) 469-7317, or visit stl-wwme.org.
Retrouvaille, a Catholic program designed to help troubled marriages, helps spouses rebuild their love and respect for each other using a communication technique. The program has been successful in saving marriages. In some instances it has brought reconciliation to couples who already have separated or divorced. More information about Retrouvaille call Chuck and Linda at (314) 453-0110 or see retrouvaille.org.
Counseling also is available from Catholic Family Services. Call (314) 544-3800.
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