Marriage Preparation Process and Classes"Knowing that marriage and family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the Church wishes to speak and offer help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and family… In a particular way the Church addresses the young, who are beginning their journey toward marriage and family life, for the purpose of presenting them new horizons, helping them to discover the beauty and grandeur of the vocation to life and the service to love."
These words of Pope John Paul II, from his encyclical On the Family, reflect the concern that the Catholic Church has for marriage, especially in light of contemporary cultural influences that sometimes undermine marriage. It is for this reason that we require all engaged couples to invest time and energy in an intentional program of marriage preparation.
Marriage preparation in the Diocese of Lexington involves the following five step process, preferably in this order (for a graphic of the process, see the brochure on the left (under "Documents") for our marriage preparation process).
1. At least six months before the desired wedding date, couples should make initial contact with the parish, and then schedule a meeting with the priest or deacon who is witnessing the marriage. The priest or deacon will direct couples toward the other phases of the process, and will likely lead them through FOCCUS, a pre-marital survey designed to help couples indicate strength and growth areas in their relationship.
2. Attend a "God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage" seminar (see brochure on left or register here) in which couples will gain a better understanding of the nature of Christian marriage.
3. Participate in "Married Life" skills training by meeting with a married Sponsor Couple from the parish or by attending a parish-based Married Life workshop (see brochure on left). This will help couples better understand the daily opportunities and challenges of married life.
Couples may also attend a full weekend retreat, the "Christian Marriage Weekend" (see brochure on left or register here) to fulfill steps #2 and #3 above at the same time. This retreat is held three times per year at Cliffview Retreat Center near Danville, KY.
4. Complete a full course in Natural Family Planning (see brochure on left) in which couples can learn more information about living married sexuality without contraceptives, in a way that honors and respects the deepest meaning of marital love.
5. Schedule a follow-up meeting with the priest/deacon witnessing the marriage in order to review the experience of marriage preparation and to make final determinations regarding the wedding service and liturgy.