This weekend’s readings are about men and women, marriage and divorce. Therefore, it seems appropriate to speak a little about marriage.
While the Catholic Church in this country has had many problems with sex, one of our unsung accomplishments has been marriage preparation programs. Almost every diocese in this country requires couples to go through some form of marriage prep before celebrating the sacrament of marriage. Many years ago when I was a new priest, young couples often were resistant to this requirement. They thought they were going to get lots of boring talks from celibate priests about the Sacrament of Marriage, talking about stuff they knew nothing about first-hand. But in fact these programs brought in many dedicated lay people, especially couples, who researched topics like budgeting, practical advice on dealing with in-laws, and generally were (and still are) pretty good. Soon word got around, and now, instead of being resistant to this requirement of marriage prep, young couples come looking for and asking for marriage prep. They have learned through word-of-mouth that it was actually useful and helpful. People are so busy these days that they appreciate the requirement to take time out of their busy schedules to focus on their relationship rather than work, the reception, bridesmaids’ dresses, or a thousand other details of preparing for a wedding. The wedding takes over, and the marriage gets little attention. These marriage prep programs play an important role and are now anticipated and desired. And that is a great success! But, they are a lot of work and require couples to present them and make them work.
Here at St. Austin and the University Catholic Center, we have a LOT of young people preparing for marriage. That is good. But what we don’t have are enough married couples willing and able to help present the marriage preparation programs. We need people – new couples, middle-aged couples, well-experienced couples, to help in this important and vital ministry.
Volunteers are needed for the biannual marriage prep program at the UCC. It is a weekend program and very good. We hope to get THREE couples to coordinate the event. Plus, we need couples or singles to help cook, set up, or give talks.
We also have a different marriage prep program operating out of St. Austin Church, the Couple-to-Couple program. A married couple meets privately with an engaged couple over a period of time. This usually works better than meeting for an entire Saturday. We need both a couple to serve as Coordinators of this program, as well as married couples to meet with engaged couples.
If you think you might be interested in helping in this important ministry, please contact either Deacon Billy Atkins, Fr. Rich Andre, Pat Lucksinger, or myself at the church office. Many thanks!