Weddings & Marriage Preparation at St. Michael’s
The purpose of marriage preparation is to help people prepare to live out their lives as sacramentally married in a Christian spirit and continue to grow in the realization of that mystery at the core of each marriage. Research shows that marriage preparation programs have a significant positive impact on participants as related to helping to improve relationship skills and the overall quality of their relationships. Best practice marriage ministry requires steady, reassuring, and intensive short and long-term marriage preparation and ongoing formation.
While it is necessary for all couples who wish to marry in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary to take a marriage preparation course, a personal approach to the state of being sacramentally married is to be offered. Marriage preparation should never be reduced to a simple instruction about certain aspects of marriage that relate only to the validity and lawfulness of the marriage. Rather, it must help to accompany a couple on their life’s journey as accompaniment is a pastoral ministry that is both/and — it challenges us to accompany people where they are, and to show others that we are walking with them toward the truth in the context of their lives’ concrete situations.
Marriage Preparation Program Options
1. St. Michael’s Mentor Couple Program
At St. Michael’s, we strongly prefer that couples complete the marriage preparation program through our mentor couple program. Here, engaged couples are matched to be accompanied by a mentor couple. The couples meet at the mentor couple’s home or other suitable location over a number of weeks where they explore specific themes, learn from each other’s experiences, and find ways to help support one another for the long-term. This approach requires effectively accompanying newly-married couples to provide the tools needed to face trials together and thereby prevent problems that might lead to a break-up of the marriage and family. Accompaniment connects people with the relationships and resources needed to sustain and nurture family life and to heal the broken relationships that weaken or break family ties.
To accommodate scheduling or other difficulties, couples may also complete the marriage preparation requirement through other Diocese-approved group weekend programs.
2. Through the Diocese of Calgary’s Family Life Ministry Office
The Diocese of Calgary’s Marriage and Family Life Ministry Office offers a weekend marriage preparation program to groups of couples. While it is available to all couples, it is particularly specialized to handle couples in special circumstances such as couples who are marrying after extended cohabitation, beginning marriage with children, have been previously married, are age 45+, or preparing for blessings of their marriage.
3. Catholic Family Service: Group Weekend Program
Over the course of a weekend, participants take a time-out from wedding planning to developing practical tools that will create a lifelong, happy marriage — including understanding marriage as a sacrament, spirituality in marriage, enhancing communication, and managing conflict.
Other options may be considered on a case-by-case basis, including online programs to accommodate couples living or working abroad.
What you need to do to get started
There are several steps in the process to prepare you to marry in the Catholic Church. To get started, contact Deacon Patrick and Jennifer Woo at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will arrange to meet with you and work with you through the process. Meanwhile, you can also check our preparation guide here.