PATHWAYS™ is an intentional and heartfelt invitation filled with welcome, compassion and support and an opportunity for civilly married or cohabitating couples to consider the PATHWAY toward Sacramental Marriage in the Catholic Church. 

PATHWAYS™ is an INVITATION to what often is a hurting or disparaged part of our Catholic community.

Considering the specific situation of civil marriage and even simple cohabitation, the Synod Fathers said, “when such unions attain a particular stability, legally recognized, are characterized by deep affection and responsibility for their offspring, and demonstrate an ability to overcome trials, they can provide occasions for pastoral care with a view to the eventual celebration of the sacrament of marriage”(The Joy of Love, #293). PATHWAYS™ can provide that pastoral care.

The centerpiece of PATHWAYS™ is an informal Gathering in which attendees learn about Sacramental Marriage, Convalidation, Annulments, and the STEPS to an Exchange of Vows in the Catholic Church. This is done through

  • a powerful PowerPoint Presentation that is accurate, informative and effective and follows SIX STEPS that include Prayer & Discernment; Telling their Story & Declaration of Nullity (if needed); the Parish Marriage Preparation for Sacramental Marriage process; Sacrament of Reconciliation; Exchange of Vows; and Living a Sacramental Marriage
  • the witness of couple(s) who discovered God’s plan for their marriage through marriage convalidation and sacramental marriage
  • Annulment Advocacy and help with initial paperwork
  • Accompaniment by the parish PATHWAYS™ team that speaks to being “missionary, going out to where people are” and leading them to the Lord (USCCB Pastoral Framework Call to the Mission of Love).
  • Prayer as couples are prayed for and with and given ten Couple Prayer Envelopes with a prayerful process to use in the days following the PATHWAYS™ Gathering.

The natural meaning of marriage as an exchange of self-giving love is not replaced but fulfilled and raised to a higher level in the Sacrament of Matrimony.

The pictures here are of the Convalidation Ceremony of five couples within a Saturday vigil Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Orange Park, FL., and a reception the parish provided that followed.

PATHWAYS™ to Sacramental Marriage & Marriage Convalidation is about fulfilling and raising natural marriage to a higher level in the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is about living out God’s Plan for Marriage and being in communion with the Church thus allowing Catholic spouses to receive the Sacraments of the Church.

PATHWAYS™ is one of the most exciting ministry efforts MarriageBuilding/ConstruyendoMatrimonios USA has designed and implemented. 

The USCCB document “Called to the Joy of Love: National Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry,“ provides the following four pillars for the framework

  1. Prayer & Relationship with Christ
  2. Formation
  3. Accompaniment
  4. Advocacy

PATHWAYS™ implements and is structured around all four of these pillars. For example, pillar III which is Accompaniment, asks that pastoral strategies be developed “that identify and respond to the realities of married couples, families, and those discerning marriage.” It speaks to the need of being “missionary, going out to where people are” and leading them to the Lord.

It calls for a sensitivity that shapes programs and resources with “care and compassion” to help all grow in the love of God and neighbor. That pastoral leaders are to reach out in the “art of accompaniment,” that couples and families in need experience “our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.”


As part of PATHWAYS™, we have created a booklet called STEP BY STEP given to each participant attending PATHWAYS™.

The Booklet addresses many of the questions a couple may have. It becomes a reference point for what a couple needs to do. And it holds insights that a couple can ponder as they follow this pathway.

The first half of the booklet helps couples consider why Sacramental Marriage. “PATHWAYS™ to the Sacraments is a time of conversion, a time to better understand theSacrament of Matrimony as a bond between the two spouses created by God Himself, so strong that only death can dissolve it.

This gives new meaning to your lives by embracing the vocation of marriage and dedicating your home as a place for meeting God – one truly worthy to be called God’s Family.” The second half of the booklet focuses on each of the STEPS to Living a Sacramental Marriage.