Preparing Couples to Marry
in the Catholic Church
✔ Flexible format
✔ Digital resources
✔ Easy to run
✔ Theology of the Body
Engaged is a parish-based, marriage formation programme that integrates contemporary relationship psychology with Catholic theology for an effective and powerful experience for the engaged couple.
Combining a number of adult learning methodologies, the six-session course is designed to be used in couple-to-couple mentoring, small home-centred groups or by correspondence. The programme can also be adapted for use with large groups in parish facilities.
The core content is presented on DVD and is supported by comprehensive participant materials. Each session is of two hours duration with additional take-home activities (approximately twenty hours in total). Well resourced, Engaged offers an easy way for parishes to provide marriage preparation for their engaged couples within the parish.
Engaged Live is conducted in a mentor couple’s home over approx. 6 weeks. The mentor couple use the educational DVD’s and workbooks to work through 6 lessons of 2 hours each, while providing the perfect opportunity for engaged couples to witness a Catholic marriage. This course is also beneficial to the mentor couple as they revisit all the concepts and skills necessary for their own married life while being able to immerse themselves in the growth and learning of the engaged couple.
A Completion Certificate is provided on completion of the course.
Engaged Live can be used in a group setting with a number of engaged couples. A married couple runs the course, normally in a parish hall, using the same educational DVD’s and workbooks and provides personal insights to the group as a whole. This format can be run over six consecutive weeks or more condensed formats. The personal sharing of the presenting couple is central to the Sacramental witness.
There is no group sharing or discussion. Listen to the talks and watch the DVD’s as a group but do all sharing as a couple. A certificate is awarded at the conclusion of the course.
Seamless Integration of modern psychology and Catholic theology forms the foundation of the course. Drawing on the wisdom of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body the course reframes insights from contemporary relationship research to provide practical strategies and exercises that help couples know the theory and live it.
Skillfully deals with tough topics like family planning and interfaith marriage. These are addressed in a manner that is warm and inviting while at the same time does not ‘water down’ Church teaching.
There are 6 sessions in the face-to-face course (9 in the online format). Each session is of two hours duration with 1-2 hours of take home exercises and reading. The course can be run over six weeks, over two full days, or any combination. Conducting the course over several weeks has the additional benefit of facilitating the integration of the material into the engaged couple’s daily lives, allowing them to practice and discuss the skills taught.
High-Quality Materials. The use of multimedia resources utilises contemporary approaches to adult learning. Engaged couples receive a comprehensive participant pack (100+pages) and take home DVD and booklet on natural fertility methods providing a practical resource for future reference.
Facilitated by a married couple Engage provides a living witness of sacramental married love that powerfully reinforces the course content.
- The presence of a married couple Mentor, combined with comprehensive educational content, provides the engaged couple with the best possible mix of information, practical wisdom and sacramental inspiration.
- Engaged couples hear the perspective of both husband and wife bringing balance and relatability to the material.
- Engaged couples develop a direct relationship with the parish through their Mentors who can be a future source of support if needed. For marginalised Catholics, the course provides a personal and non-threatening way to draw them into active participation in the Church.
- Teaching is an effective way to consolidate one’s own understanding of any topic and Mentors consistently report substantial benefits to their own marriage. The Mentors’ Guide has specific suggestions to assist their ongoing formation.
- The couple-to-couple mentoring format removes the need for Mentors to have group facilitation skills. Couples who would not ordinarily step forward to lead large groups can confidently and capably present Engaged.
- As the course is conducted in the Mentors’ home, no child-minding is required, enabling couples with young families to participate and contribute to the mission of the Church.
- The DVD based input makes the course easy to facilitate.
- Rather than sending couples outside the parish community, Engaged allows any parish to provide its own marriage preparation drawing on its own parishioners as Mentors.
- The comprehensive participant pack and DVD ensures that the course is presented consistently and with high standards.
- Engaged is a powerful means of marriage enrichment for the Mentors, thus providing the parish with an additional avenue of adult formation with no extra effort.
Discussing the nature of love, this session introduces the concept of Smart Loving – a practical insight designed to make a couple’s efforts to love more efficient by helping them learn the specific ways in which their fiancé experiences love. The role of affirmation is also addressed.
Theology of the Body focus: Love as Gift and the Body as Sacrament.
Using the PMRC’s L.I.F.E. communication framework, couples will learn how to communicate effectively and intimately. A technique for accomplishing Emotional Communion (empathy) is also taught. Theology of the Body focus: Communion of Persons.
Theology of the Body focus: Communion of Persons.
Session 3 is a detailed examination of the couple’s attitudes and beliefs about sexuality and marriage, looking particularly at their family of origin. The impact of other significant relationships including emotional injuries is addressed.
Theology of the Body focus: The Redemption of the Body.
In this session, couples learn how to use the Stop-Reflect-Connect tool for values-based decision making. Conflict and the role of forgiveness is examined, including an adaptation for the Stop-Reflect-Connect tool for the specific purpose of reconciliation. (In the online version, this session is covered over two lessons)
Theology of the Body focus: Nuptial Meaning of the Body.
This session examines how, contrary to popular belief, marital sex is an intimate communication rather than just a recreational activity. The concept of sex as a sacramental gesture and a renewal of wedding vows is explored. A take home DVD provides a summary of key concepts regarding sexuality with a discussion of natural fertility methods and their benefits. (In the online version, this take home session is covered an additional lesson)
Theology of the Body focus: Sex as Sacred Body Language.
This session addresses the sacramentality of marriage and will direct couples towards spiritual intimacy with their fiancé. Specific issues relating to couples of mixed faith are addressed. Couples who are not Catholic, or who do not practice their Catholic faith, are gently invited to become fully engaged members in parish life. (In the online version, this session is covered over two lessons).
Theology of the Body focus: Marriage as an Image of Christ and the Church.
Getting Started is Easy!
Become a SmartLoving Engaged Mentor Couple
Couples are busy and we want to make the training process efficient and flexible. Training is comprised of four components*:
Step 1: Marriage Enrichment
You need to become familiar with the frameworks of SmartLoving and experience the benefits of them by applying them in your marriage. After this, you will know whether you are suited to this ministry and will be invited to take the next step. This step can take the form of participation in either of the following:
- SL Marriage Seminar (Loving for Life in UK, Living in Love in USA) – a couple’s retreat offered in some areas.
- SL Engaged live group course – just sit in as a participant with an engaged group.
- SL Online Sponsor course – this can be completed on your own at home or shared with one or more other trainee couples.
Step 2: SL Engaged Induction
This component will equip you with the techniques specific to delivery of the course and will assist you in your preparation of the presentations. Options for this include:
- Attendance at an SL Engaged training day – this will walk you through the format of the course, coach you in preparing your personal examples, and introduce you to the pastoral care policy.
- Individual coaching by a SL trainer – sometimes, there is not sufficient demand to run a training day, so individual coaching may be offered.
- Completion of the ONLINE training unit for SL Engaged Mentors (coming soon) – this includes the instruction provided in the training day, accessible online.
Step 3: First course
The next step is to run the course with the support and coaching of an experience SL mentor. Depending on your area and the circumstances this may be one of the following:
- Presenter: As one couple on a team of couples facilitating a group course where you present one or more sessions.
- Mentor: As a mentor couple facilitating the whole course with a single engaged couple, usually in your home.
- Sponsor: As a sponsor couple accompanying an engaged couple in the Online course.
Step 4: Ongoing formation
Your marriage needs and deserves regular nurturing and extension. You will also need to maintain your currency in the SL materials as they are regularly updated. Minimum requirements are:
- Presentation of the course at least once a year.
- Reading MRC eJournal (free subscription).
- Participation in at least one marriage formation activity such as a conference/inservice (eg Renaissance of Marriage), couples retreat, online relationship course (eg SL Marriage Kit, SL BreakThrough), academic study (eg Theology of the Body), suitable book.
*Some areas have different training requirements, so it is best to confirm this with your local SmartLoving coordinators.