- The minimum proximate preparation period for marriage will be about six months. This period of preparation should start when the couple first contacts the parish priest or deacon to set the wedding date.
- (With this, as with the other parts of the marriage preparation policy, the parish priest/deacon, for good reason, can grant exceptions. All exceptions granted, however, must be exceptions from the letter of the law, but not for its spirit.)
- Each couple, early in their marriage preparation will be given the F.O.C.C.U.S. or F.A.C.E.T. Premarital Inventory, including the sacramentality section developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha. This will be computer read and returned to the priest/deacon within three weeks.
- Each priest/deacon will meet with the engaged couple a minimum of four times. At the first meeting, the marriage preparation program is explained; at the second, the Premarital Inventory is administered and other parish paperwork is completed; at the third and fourth, the results of the Premarital Inventory are discussed, an explanation of the sacramentality of Christian marriage is shared with the couple, and the details of the liturgy are developed.
- Each engaged couple will attend a group experience, aimed at helping them gain insight into themselves, and their relationship (self-image, self-awareness, family and background differences, expectations, etc.), providing them with techniques for maintaining and enriching relationships (coping with stress, communication skills, resolving differences, making decisions, prayer, etc.), and providing the witness of married couples living the sacrament of marriage. Couples would be free to choose from the following group experiences:A. Engaged Couples Conference offered by the deanery.B. Engaged Encounter Weekend offered by the Archdiocese.C. Engaged Couples Conference offered by their parish (where available).
In marriage where the parties belong to different religions, the priest/deacon should endeavor to be in contact and to cooperate with the minister or religious counselor in both the preparation for, and celebration of, the marriage ceremony.
Every couple, one of whom is not yet twenty years of age, will meet with a counselor from the Family Life Office to examine the particular issues of their young marriage. If the person is under 18, an evaluation report centering on the basic question of required maturity is to be sent to the parish.
- Every couple, one of whom is entering a second marriage, is urged to participate in a program provided by the Family Life Office, dealing with the particular issues of second marriage.Circumstances may arise which would necessitate more extended consultation and evaluation in determining a couple’s readiness for Christian marriage. In such cases, the priest or deacon should delay the marriage, pending the outcome of such consultation and evaluation.
A. Circumstances can exist when:
The priest or deacon is convinced that one or both parties totally lack an understanding of, or a commitment to, the essential properties of Christian
marriage, i.e. fidelity, permanence, and the right to children.
The frank admission of the Catholic partners that they have not practiced and do not intend to practice their Catholic faith is strong enough to indicate that they reject explicitly and formally what the church intends them to do when the marriage of baptized persons is celebrated (as opposed to simple neglect of the practice of faith.)
The couple refuses to take part, in good faith, in the formal marriage preparation process.
One or both parties are judged to be lacking in the minimal maturity demanded by Christian marriage.
- There is evidence of substantial and undue pressure to marry from external sources, i.e. parental pressure of premarital pregnancy.
B. In all cases, it is important that the priest/deacon assist the couple to overcome their problem. If skills are required beyond those possessed by the priest/deacon, the couple should be referred to the appropriate professional persons. Every effort should be made to put the support program and resources of Archdiocesan agencies at the disposition of the couple.
C. When the couple feels aggrieved by the decision to delay the marriage, or even to postpone it indefinitely, the priest or deacon will assist the couple in lodging an appeal to the Archbishop. The matter will normally be reviewed by the Chancery staff acting as the Archbishop’s delegate and an answer will be given within two weeks.
9. This booklet on marriage preparation is to be given to each couple at their first meeting with the priest/deacon.
We follow the "Common Marriage Preparation" of the Archdiocese of Hartford, which you can find on the Downloads page.