The first Building Block is the work of BUILDING leaders and establishing a Team. BUILDING a Team involves the formation of a Parish (or Cluster of Parishes) This Building Block involves all the important aspects that prepare an engaged couple for the Sacrament of Marriage. It also should include the invitation to those married outside the church to have their marriage become a Sacrament, if that is possible.
In MARRIAGE: Love & Life in the Divine Plan, it says: “By the time of immediate preparation, the couple has developed a conviction that God is calling them to marriage with a particular person. Prayer, especially for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the help of wise mentors are crucial in this discernment process.
Discernment also involves an honest assessment of qualities that are foundational for the marriage. These include an ability to make and keep a commitment, the desire for a lifelong, faithful relationship, and openness to children. The couple will also want to reflect on the values they share, their ability to communicate, and agreement on significant issues” (USCCB Publ., 2009).
It is our gift as a faith community to walk with these couples as they come to the Church for Marriage. At best, we offer our care and support, our witness and
insights into lifelong marriage.
- A pre-marital inventory is utilized by all couples preparing for sacramental marriage.
- We assume a posture of welcome to all couples seeking marriage in our parish.
- Adequate preparation is given utilizing a pre-marital inventory, a parish or diocesan program of instruction and catechesis, and wedding planning assistance?
- Have in place a way to invite couples in need of Convalidation to know what they can do to have their marriage become a Sacrament of the Church.
- Invite each engaged couple to attend a Sunday Mass at which they are introduced to the community and a special blessing is given. All are asked to keep this couple in their prayers during their preparation.
- Use of an Inventory, possibly Fully Engaged or FOCCUS, is administered to help couples looks at their strengths and weaknesses. Once they have attended the Instructional program, the priest, or trained married couple reviews their results.
- The couple is asked to participate in an Instructional program at the Parish or Diocese. This should include information on Natural Family Planning.
- After the Instructional program is completed, the facilitation of the Inventory is completed. This lets the couple “integrate” their learning into their earlier responses, and it reinforces skills learned. Facilitators should be trained in the skills.
- Start a Mary’s Mantle Prayer Ministry for Brides and Grooms. Involves members of parish to prayerfully seek the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the engaged couple. Create greater intentionality in parish’s care for their engaged. Handbook and materials available.
- Pathways to the Sacrament is a way to extend a direct and formal invitation to couples whose marriages are for some reason not fully recognized by the Church. Guidance and materials are available through MarriageBuildingUSA. precedes Marriage Convalidation.
- Annulment support ministers are made available to offer emotional support and encouragement to those seeking an annulment before Marriage Convalidation.