The first step is to contact your local parish priest or deacon.
Make sure to read our Steps to the Altar.
”Pastors of souls are obliged to ensure that their own church community provides for Christ's faithful the assistance by which the married state is preserved in its Christian character and develops in perfection. This assistance is to be given principally: by personal preparation for entering marriage, so that the spouses are disposed to the holiness and the obligations of their new state”… (Can. 1063)
Marriage is a life-long commitment. It is probably the most important commitment of your entire life. We see too many broken families and the increasing rate of divorces to remain indifferent. You want your Marriage to last and to be strong. You do not want to have just a functionnal marriage, but you want an extraordinary one. You want to commit in full knowledge of what marriage is all about, especially in the Catholic Church.
It takes years of studies for a priest to be ordained and fulfill his vocation. Marriage also is a vocation. It needs to be prepared in order to last." So that the “I do” of the spouses may be a free and responsible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance.” CCC 1632
“It is the desire of the Catholic Church to be present and accompany couples from the time they begin their marriage preparation and continuing throughout all the phases of life. In order for this to be possible, we see the necessity of preparing the bishops and all pastoral ministers: priests, religious and lay, to accompany these couples and these families. We must also call upon teams of professional laypersons to help us in this work.” Bishops of the Americas 18 February 2004
Marriage preparation must begin at least 6-12 months prior to a couple's anticipated wedding date. This must be checked with your specific diocesan requirements.
The very first step is to make an appointment with your priest. He will let you know what the requirements of your diocese are concerning marriage and will help you fill out the necessary papers. Then you will be able to start preparing for the sacrament through a manageable series of meetings and educational workshops.
- Complete a marriage preparation inventory (Foccus or Prepare). This tool is designed to assess the strengths of your relationship and areas that may need growth. Depending on your parish, you may also meet with a married mentor couple to help you review the inventory.
- Participate in Natural Family Planning Classes. Check with your parish or the Office of Marriage and Family Life of your diocese to register.
- Attend a specific Marriage Preparation course as offered on this site.
- Depending on your diocese, you might be required to participate in a specific weekend retreat.
- Finally, about a month before your wedding, you will need to meet with your parish team to finalize the preparation of your ceremony. You will discuss the details of the liturgy and your choice of readings with your priest or deacon. Plan also to meet with your parish music director and the marriage coordinator.
Many dioceses around the U.S. and even around the world have adopted CatholicMarriagePrep.com.
CatholicMarriagePrep.com is the fruit of many years of approved practice in the Archdiocese of Denver where it started in 2004. It is even more complete and thorough than live classes thanks to the one-on-one teaching and the possibility of linking you to so many different valuable resources available through the Internet.
The program is taught one-on-one with an instructor couple who follows you personally throughout the course. You have the opportunity to discuss each and every topic in private, to ask all your questions to your instructors, and to work at your own pace in a three months time frame.
At the end of the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion for your wedding file.
1- Fill out the registration form and payment page. Make sure to save your username and password. You will need them to access your assignments.
2- Read the message on the confirmation screen: it contains some of the instructions you need to start the course.
The same message will be automatically sent to the email address you entered in your registration form. If you do not receive it, look for it in your SPAM.
It will also be resent to you within 24 business hours, with the names of your instructors.
3- In your confirmation message you will find the instructions you need to get started with the links to your first two assignments:
1- Knowing You Better
2- The Plan of God
4- Your Membership:
Valid for a maximum of three months from your registration date
or until your wedding date which ever occurs first.
Your membership can be extended up to an additional month without cost for serious reasons (military, deployed, health problems...).
After this extra month, if you still haven’t completed the course, you will be required to pay a reactivation fee of $55.
5- Your Profile:
Accessible only to you and your instructors. It is a secured page. You can give access to it to your priest or deacon if you wish, by sharing with them your username and password.
Your answer keys and your certificate will be posted onto your profile.
6- Your Instructors:
You will work one on one with your instructors.
We assign instructors according to their workload after you register. You can ask all your questions to your instructors.
7- Completing the lessons:
Click here to see the course’s content.
We do not give several assignments at the same time (except the two first ones). The course is a process. Each assignment is done in two steps:
1) your reflection and answers to the worksheet's questions
2) Our personalized answer containing the teaching of the Church to complete your answers and help you go further.
Your answer key should help you answer the next assignment as each assignment builds upon the previous one.
There are NO live chat forums. You can contact your instructors by email.
You can work at your own pace within the three months time frame.
We recommend working one assignment per week to have time to process and discuss the subjects.
After you register, in the confirmation message, you will find the link to your first worksheet.
You will work one assignment at a time (nine total).
Within 24 business hours to a maximum of three business days, your instructors will upload your personalized answer key on your profile as a Word document. The link to your next assignment will be at the end of this document.
If you live far apart, make sure you share and discuss your answers whether by e-mail or Skype, or by phone before you submit one final combined answer back to us.
When the course is completed, after you fill the feedback form, we will upload your certificate of completion onto your profile as a PDF file (requires to have Adobe Reader).
Our one-on-one heuristic approach can be described in three words: Progressive/Gradual/Deeper.
- Progressive: the engaged couples progress with every assignment as each worksheet is built upon the previous one.
- Gradual: We go one step at a time, we take the engaged couples where they are and we help them go further.
- Deeper: We go back to certain topics after the engaged couples have learned something new so we can take them deeper and deeper.
2 - Heuristic Method:
We do not work in the traditional teaching way, i.e. a lesson then questions about the lessons (we actually do this only for two assignments: assignments 4 and 5: Formation of Conscience and the teaching on contraception).
Instead we ask couples to think first (heuristic process), to search for answers to the questions, before they receive the fullness of the Church's teaching in the answer key.
We want them to 'own' their knowledge, we want them to think for themselves, to discuss, ponder, and investigate, before we complete their reflection with the Church’s teachings.
This way, the couple stays engaged in the process and is more open to embracing the teachings of the Church.
This is why the work is down in two phases:
The first one as we described above is the searching phase, the second one is the reading of their personal answer key from their instructor couple.
The "meat of the program', the core of the teaching, is in the answer key.
Not reading and not discussing the answer key makes the whole process quite worthless.
3 - One on One/personalized method:
Since the engaged couples are asked to give their own personal answers, then each engaged couple is really unique for us.
Their instructor couple will review each and every one of their answers/comments and answer back to each one of them in a very personalized way, before giving them the teachings of the Catholic Church, common to all.
It makes this journey really unique for each engaged couple as well as for their instructor couples.
The engaged couple can ask any question they want, together or separately, on the marriage preparation itself or on any other topic.
If we are not able to answer to their questions, we will take the time to look for the right answers or send them to the right resources.
When some of these questions need the help of a counselor, we have a counselor on staff who will answer anonymously or personally.
We see beautiful things happen through this way of teaching as you can read in our weekly reviews