Building a Parish Marriage Ministry
If families are the foundation of the society and marriage is the core relationship in the family, there’s an important parish ministry required if we are to have any hope of strengthen society. Church communities have much to offer in establishing local marriage initiatives but they need coordination and focussed efforts to get underway.
The M-Team is one model for doing this.
Establish a coordinating team of 2-3 couples to plan and execute initiatives for marriage and family in the parish. The M-Team is not just ‘doing’ group, it’s also a community of couples supporting each other in their marriages and earnestly seeking to further the Kingdom.
What does the M-Team do?
Here’s our suggestions for where to start, but you can easily integrate other options.
- Marriage Prep: This is a great place to start as it is an area of need in almost all parishes. Even if your parish only infrequently hosts a wedding, the reality is that there are couples from your parish who are getting married in other churches. Reach out to the big ‘wedding churches’ in your area and ask them to refer engaged couples from your parish back to you for preparation. Talk to the bishop and priests in your diocese about referring marriage preparation back to the local parish whenever feasible.
If the Sponsor system for engaged couples is already running, look to see what you can do to establish it as permanent ministry. Help recruit, induct & support sponsor couples so that more couples can experience the benefits of SL as a sponsor.
- Civilly married couples: Increasingly, there are many couples in our Catholic parish or school communities who didn’t marry in the Christian ceremony and therefore are not in a marriage recognised by the Church. For many, this was due simply to a desire to host the wedding in a different location, such as at the beach or in a vineyard. For others, they had a simple civil ceremony due to the cost of hosting a big wedding. Others may have desired a Catholic wedding but were unable to marry in the church due to a previous marriage that had not been annulled, Brainstorm
- Celebration of milestone anniversaries: This could be as simple as publishing them in the parish bulletin under a ‘We’re Celebrating’ column, an announcement from the pulpit at thanksgiving, or a blessing given to the couple just before the end of Mass. Alternatively, your parish might like to host a dedicated day or evening for marking significant anniversaries with couples invited to bring family along to a Mass of Thanksgiving and supper.
- St Valentine Gathering: Reclaim St Valentine from the secular culture with a dedicated event that celebrates this Saints life, given in defense of marriage. For more on St Valentine and links to printable handouts, go here
- Regular gatherings of couples to continue the growth. There are many small group marriage resources that can be used to host couple gatherings, including the SmartLoving Gathering Notes. But you don’t have to be restricted to marriage resources – bible studies and faith-based resources can also be very effective in helping couples bond with their spouses and with the group.
- Promote marriage enrichment initiatives in the diocese: You don’t have to host everything in your own parish. Connect with other organisations and movements to promote their marriage and family events. Organise a group from the parish to attend a marriage enrichment retreat. Fund raise to send a couple delegate to a national marriage conference.
- Build a support network with counselling referrals: Good marriage counsellors are hard to find. Many counsellors are not specifically trained for couple’s counselling, or approach their couple clients with an attitude of indifference towards whether the marriage succeeds for fails. Counsellors who are formed in Catholic theology and base their practice on a Catholic anthropology will approach their clients as beloved children of God who desires their eternal wellbeing. Such counsellors know that present sufferings and difficulties can bear spiritual fruit that is not always valued by the secular mindset that seeks to maximise happiness in this life. They will more likely honour the sacred vows made at the couple’s wedding day and seek to find solutions to their difficulties that do not compromise their eternal life, but rather lead them into deeper relationship with the God who loves them.
- Promote healing and reconciliation among fractured families: We all have someone to forgive. Every single one of us holds bitterness or resentment towards someone who wounded us in some way. These wounds in families can sometimes lead to toxic arguments or even a family member being exiled. Work to forgive and heal the wounds in your own life, and then look to ways that you can promoted the same in others. A great place to start is the SmartLoving BreakThrough experience.
PMRC Resource Hub
Find resources and lots of ideas at the PMRC Resource Hub. You can search by topic, formation stage or key word.
And if you have a resource, you can also upload it so that it’s available for others to find.