Posted October 19, 2004
The Latest Research Findings on Marriage Preparation
From a Study conducted by the
U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life
Marriage preparation and post-marriage enrichment programs, celebrations of special anniversaries and workshops to heal troubled marriages, U.S. dioceses and parishes are providing lifelong support for marriage.
Responses came from 129 -- or 66 percent -- of the nation's 195 dioceses and eparchies, or Eastern-rite dioceses.
In those dioceses, 177,825 couples were married in the Catholic Church last year, the survey results showed.
The survey did not gather data on couples who participated in parish-sponsored marriage preparation programs or those offered by military or campus chaplains.
Each diocesan program consisted of one to 12 sessions, with couples spending an average of 12 hours in marriage preparation. Elements of the programs included interviews with a priest or deacon; educational presentations by married couples; liturgical planning of readings, prayers and music for the wedding ceremony; and, in most cases, use of a premarital inventory to assess areas of agreement and disagreement between the prospective spouses.
After marriage, more than 70 of the dioceses offered ongoing education for couples, the survey found. In all, 14,289 couples participated in 72 diocesan programs aimed at helping couples renew their relationship or reconcile.
Another 10,989 couples nationwide participated in Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends in English, Spanish or Korean in 2003, and some 5,000 couples were part of Retrouvaille (French for "rediscovery"), a church ministry to those in troubled marriages.
The survey found that 100 of the 129 dioceses reported sponsoring an annual Mass celebrated by the local bishop for couples married 25 years and 50 years or more. More than 23,000 couples attended those Masses in 2003.
"We are trying to build a continuum of ministry for couples in order to give them both encouragement and the tools they need to grow and thrive in all stages of their marriage," said Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga., chairman of the bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family Life, in a statement.
"It is especially important that couples find marital help in their parishes," he added.
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