“We came as individuals, Marriage Enrichment made us a team again.”
“It was a new beginning for us.”
“We came because we thought we needed a new spark, but found we needed a complete overhaul.”
“I was relieved to find out that other couples face the same challenges.”
“We found the love we had misplaced."
”Marriage Enrichment brought us closer to Christ and to each other.”
There are two sets of marriage programs within the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
The Marriage Enrichment Journey® series of programs that originated within the Archdiocese. They are parish-based and are made available nationally.
Other marriage programs that originated outside the Archdiocese, but are sponsored by and presented in the Archdiocese.
1.1 Youth Dating and Healthy Relationships
1.2 Engaged-Couple Enrichment
1.3 Marriage Enrichment Weekend
1.4 Married Enrichment Experience
1.5 Married-Couple Retreat
1.6 Marriage Renewal and Education
1.7 Married-Couple Support Group
1.8 Other Activities
These are all parish/congregation-based ministries that are held using church facilities. They cover the life cycle. The teams presenting the programs are from the sponsoring church. Information on how to present these programs is at the end of this section. These programs are made available nationally through the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. They have an inter-church and inter-faith dimension.
This is a one-day education program for youth at the time of dating (ages 14-18 years). It helps them formulate a vision and guiding principles as well as develop an awareness of challenges and methods for handling them. They also learn about the vocation of marriage through a process that places God at the center. This provides a foundation based upon Christian principles for those who may be considering marriage as their life-long commitment. This program is meant to support and complement the family in the values and guidance that it provides to their youth and young adults. In addition, it helps provide an important early-in-life step toward recognizing that marriage is a covenant/sacrament. The team presenting the program is two married couples, a youth director, a spiritual director, and three single-young adults.
This is a marriage preparation program for engaged couples. It is presented in one evening and the following day (usually, a Saturday evening and Sunday). As an option, it can be presented in three evenings. In this program the engaged couple's preparation for marriage is enriched through a process of reflection, sharing and support. The focus is on sharing all aspects of marriage with engaged couples. Married couples volunteer their time and talent and share their personal experiences. This helps engaged couples develop a fuller understanding of the relationship and commitment that they are undertaking. They benefit from the real-life experiences shared by married couples in the talks and in the discussion sessions. For more one-on-one interaction, married couples serve as sponsors for the engaged couples.
The number of engaged couples attending is usually twenty to twenty-five. The team presenting the program is usually six to twelve married couples and a spiritual director. The number of married couples on the team depends upon the need for sponsor couples. The sponsor activity provides mutual support for both the engaged and married couples that often extends well beyond the program experience.
This enrichment program is for married and engaged couples. It begins on Friday evening, continues through Saturday, and ends on Sunday afternoon. The couples return to their homes in the evening. The Weekend touches on all aspects of marriage. The talks, discussions, videos, question and answer sessions, and meditations are integrated together to provide an opportunity for growth through learning, sharing of experiences, and reflection. The building of relationships starts with self. It then progresses to include spouse, children, family, and community, with God as an integral part of all relationships. The couple relationship and building of spirituality are the central focus.
There are usually no more than twenty-five to thirty participant couples plus the team attending a Weekend. This helps build community. To provide a good balance of experience in marriage, no more that about one-fourth of the participating couples are engaged couples. Married couples from the team serve as sponsors for the engaged couples. The participation of the clergy and religious is important in providing spiritual guidance and support. The team is composed of about twenty married couples and a spiritual director. The talks are given by thirteen speaker couples and the spiritual director. There are seven to ten support couples. The support functions include publicity, registration, kitchen, decorations, physical arrangements, music, and liturgy. The team composition for each Weekend is different. This provides for orderly growth in the program, adds vitality, and builds leadership.
This is a two-day enrichment program is for married couples. It begins on Friday evening and concludes on Saturday. The Experience covers the three major aspects of marriage formation: 1) the ideal in marriage, 2) the reality of marriage, and 3) spirituality in marriage. This program is a shortened version of the Weekend. It is formulated to provide a growth experience for couples who cannot commit to a full Weekend. It also helps in providing child-care for participants with young families. This program is most effective when coupled with a follow-up activities.
The Retreat is a one-day or three-evening program. This ministry is focused on married couples. However, engaged couples also benefit from the experience. The process of the Retreat addresses the ideal, the reality, and the sacrament and covenant aspects of marriage. It helps enrich the couple relationship through reflection, sharing, and support. The Retreat is based on the same approach to ministry as the Weekend. It addresses spirituality in marriage in a practical way using everyday marriage experiences. This program is ideal for those couples who cannot attend a Weekend because of their busy lives and for those parishes and congregations that do not have the resources to support the entire Weekend program. It is flexible and adaptable to any parish or congregation (small or large). Many churches use the Retreat as a stepping stone toward eventually presenting the Weekend.
The number of participant couples attending is usually similar to that for the Weekend. That number can be increased, however, if the church decides to present the program to the entire church community. The team usually consists of five married couples and a spiritual director from the parish/congregation. Couples new to ministry often become involved and develop leadership skills for ministry within the church.
The Renewal is a marriage education program the covers all phases and stages of marriage. It is like the continuous thread that strengthens and supports a tapestry. The Renewal is an on-going program that consists of monthly meetings that last for about two hours. These sessions are open to everyone (youth, engaged and married couples, and other interested persons). They are conducted in the church or congregation and have a strong community support component. In addition to providing continuous education, this ministry introduces the participants to other marriage activities and motivates them to become involved. The Renewal serves as an excellent start-up or follow-up activity to other Marriage Enrichment programs. Some churches use it as a start-up activity to identify and develop team members for future presentations of the other programs. As a follow-up activity, the Renewal broadens the marriage enrichment experience. It provides the opportunity to explore topics that may go beyond the Weekend or other program experiences. The participants gain new insights and broaden their experience. The team consists of two to five couples and a spiritual director. A guest speaker may be added to address special topics for some program presentations.
The Support Group ministry is a follow-up program for married couples who have attended a Weekend or Retreat. It is a series of monthly meetings and sessions on marriage that deepen the marriage enrichment experience. These are small-group gatherings of about four to eight couples that provide continued growth through learning, enrichment, and mutual support. The meetings last for two hours and are in the homes of the group members. This program brings new dimensions of spirituality into the couple’s lives. The friendships that develop bring an added richness to their relationship that extends beyond them to their families and their communities. These couples frequently become members of teams and leaders for other Marriage Enrichment programs like the Youth, Engaged, Weekend, and Retreat programs.
After the program experience many couples want to continue to grow and enrich their marriages. Follow-up activities that help to facilitate this process include the Renewal and Support Group programs. In addition, many couples volunteer to become team members for upcoming program presentations. Parish/Congregation steering committees often host other activities such as dances, outings, etc. The goal is to provide continued support and growth.
Conference are held to promote unity, growth, and community. It is for all persons involved and interested in this ministry. The purpose is to network, learn, share and coordinate efforts, as well as to energize, renew and strengthen commitment and leadership in marriage ministry.
These are regional meetings for discussion of issues relevant to the ministry. They provide a means for networking, a forum for exchange of ideas, and an opportunity to provide update information on program activities.
A number of workshops are available to support the ministry:
A weekend program for married-couples that provides maintenance and support. The program is designed to provide each couple a private weekend to focus on each other. They are given the tools to enrich, strengthen, and renew their relationship.
A program designed for troubled marriages. Retrouvaille includes a weekend experience and seven post-weekend follow-up sessions. Support Groups provide additional on-going support. Couples discover how listening, forginveness, communication, and the dialogue process are powerful aids for rebuilding a loving and lasting relationship.
These are marriage preparation programs. Some focus on one-on-one sessions with clergy and a married couple. Others provide a community experience with married couples. Some are a combination of both. They very from evening sessions to a full weekend.
Serves the married, the engaged, and the youth. Instructs individuals and couples in the Creighton Model Fertility System. Promotes only what is comprehensively approved by the USCCB. Offers new introductory sessions for new clients.
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