The NACFLM conference is a great place to grow your ministry and connect with other leaders. We’d love to meet you and show you how The Marriage Group can support your ministry to families!
In this video series, Claudio Mora, Director of Catholic Programs, delivers the good news of marriage that is best lived — rooted and grounded in the foundations of Catholic faith — in a beautifully profound and approachable way.
Topics within this Theology and Spirituality of Marriage segment include:
- God’s Plan:
- God’s Plan for Humanity
- God’s Plan for Human Sexuality
- God’s Plan for Marriage
- Marriage as a Sacrament
- Sacramental Life
- Sacraments of Initiation
- Sacraments to the Service of Communion
- Sacramental Marriage
- Marriage as a Vocation
- Marriage as a Covenant
In addition to his role with The Marriage Group, Claudio is an adjunct professor in the Biblical Program and Permanent Diaconate Formation Program at the University of Dallas. He served as the Family Life Director at the Diocese of Dallas and as the Executive Director of Cultural Diversity and Outreach at the Archdiocese of Washington.
The Marriage Group continues to build upon its library of content for engaged and married Catholics delivered by subject-matter experts, ensuring a comprehensive and sacramental experience every time.
Interested in learning more about how our online Pre-Cana can be another resource for your engaged couples?
In 2020 we served over 6,500 couples from all over the world. Let’s take a look at the information from couples who took our most popular Pre-Cana course in 2020, Living Our Faith in Love.
Data was interesting for Pre-Cana in 2020
Dioceses and Countries:
- Couples registered from 172 dioceses in the United States.
- We had registrations in 54 countries around the world.
- We also had registrations from about 250 dioceses outside of the United States.
- Groom: 31
- Bride: 29
Note: Over 100 couples were both above the age of 50.
Length of Engagement:
- 17.1 Months
Note: This doesn’t take into account weddings postponed due to COVID. However, this is pretty consistent with our data from previous years.
Course Start Vs. Wedding Dates:
- Couples started the course about 3.4 months before their wedding date.
Time Spent On Course:
- The average amount of time spent on the course was just over 1 month.
Note: This is an increase from the previous averages of 21 days / 3 weeks
This is interesting because it can be concluded that today’s engaged couples desire a more intentional approach to marriage preparation, rather than a one-day, “drink from the firehose” experience.
Slowing down allows more focus on the actual content and removes the thought that marriage preparation is just another hoop to jump through.
Based on this information, we can assume that couples do not wish to complete their Pre-Cana as fast as possible.
How They Found Us:
- Their Parish: 71.7%
- Search Engine: 18.2%
- From a Friend: 5.1%
- Their Diocese: 2.4%
- Family: 0.6%
- Facebook/Instagram: 0.4%
- Other: 2.0%
Note: Many couples mentioned they heard about us from the parish, diocese, or their gathered event coordinator who originally organized the event but had to cancel due to COVID.
The 2.4% mentioned above is over 100 couples who were looking to their diocese for Pre-Cana options outside of what their parish offered.
Together vs. Separate Location:
- Same Location: 82%
- Different Locations: 6%
- Combination of Both: 12%
Note: This is a bit of change from previous years. Looking at 2018 it was 69%, 11,% and 19% respectively.
This data could be attributed to couples staying in their COVID “bubble” with their fiancé(e).
- COVID: 38%
- Convenience: 37%
- Last resort: 13%
- Geography: 7%
- Privacy: 3%
- Other: 4%
Note: THIS data point is interesting.
In 2018, 69% of couples said they took the course for convenience. COVID and Convenience combined in 2020 is 75% couples.
With those combined, more than half of the couples who chose our online Pre-Cana program did so due to a cancelled event or an event in which their schedules made it difficult to attend.
“I think it was an excellent resource for us since our in person Pre-Cana day had been cancelled due to COVID-19. It took a little bit of weight off of our shoulders knowing we could complete it on our own time and not have to stress about fitting in a new date before our wedding.” – Laina and Daniel from New York
Given the global pandemic of last year, we can also assume that couples prefer the safety and security of virtual learning.
This eliminates the risk of exposure to the virus while attending a gathered event.
2020 was a very difficult year for all of us. We understand how difficult it is to have to cancel a gathered event for any number of reasons, but especially through the lens of the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately, it seems like it is still going to take a long time to “get back to normal,” and even then, it will most likely look vastly different than the “normal” we were used to.
Pre-Cana in 2020 was not an exception to this case.
The good news is — we have the resources to reach a global audience and continue to deliver a comprehensive, sacramental and modern Pre-Cana experience. Our unique benefit is that our programs are the perfect solution to every current COVID restriction in place.
We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and your ministry, and we continue to keep you all in our prayers as we all navigate through difficult times.
“Is this working?”
“Can you all hear me?”
“Hello? Can you all hear me?”
That’s pretty much how every Zoom call starts out.
These days, it seems like everything is a Zoom call — including Pre-Cana.
However, is using Zoom as a means to conduct a Pre-Cana “virtual gathered event” a good alternative for when meeting in person is not available? It certainly is not the ONLY alternative.
Here are 4 reasons why Zoom might not be the best alternative option for Pre-Cana.
Dropped calls. Frozen video. Audio that sounds like a robot underwater.
These can all lead to a poor and frustrating video call experience, let alone for something as important as Pre-Cana.
Think about it — if you are the one presenting, you get into a groove with the topic you are discussing. When you have to pause because you realize that your call has been dropped, it will take a while to get your momentum back after the call resumes.
It is difficult for anybody to gather their thoughts again when there’s a cataclysmic interruption, especially when your audience just completely disappears due to poor connection.
Even if it is one or two couples that experience the interruption, unbeknownst to the presenter/video team, those particular couples will have lost what could be several minutes worth of important talking points.
Talking Over Each Other
“Well I think— no, you go ahead… No it’s okay! Oh — no, you go ahead!”
The success of a Pre Cana gathered event is one part presentation and one part group participation.
You desire for your couples to ask questions and engage in conversation.
On a Zoom call, this can turn into an absolute nightmare.
You will have your couples talking over each other, and awkwardly telling the other participants to continue with their thought, creating chaos and a jumble of audio coming through on everyone’s device.
Other than the obvious problem that this is, another issue that can arise is your couples can shut down after an awkward “interrupting” encounter.
It takes a lot of courage for someone to speak up in front of strangers. When one experiences something as jarring as trying to talk over another, it would be easy for that individual to either forget what they were about to ask or comment on, or just completely shut down due to embarrassment.
Fatigue from Long Zoom Calls
Video conference calls are… exhausting.
For live presentations, it is always better to have people physically in the room, rather than virtually present.
Presenters and speakers do their best when they have faces to look at.
When a presenter only has a screen with blank expressions to stare at during the Pre-Cana event, it induces fatigue and, let’s face it, frustration.
Presenters can come down hard on themselves for “not giving it their best” even if their presentation was great!
In those moments, presenters might start going off of their notes and not delivering the message in an impactful way, or worse, completely forget important parts of the topic.
The Obvious Security Risks
According to this article from The Guardian, Zoom has had some glaring problems of privacy and security.
“‘Zoom bombings,’ in which hackers enter chat rooms to drop racist language and violent threats, persist. The company had to fix a bug that would have allowed hackers to take over a Zoom user’s Mac. It also had to change some of its policies after a Motherboard report found Zoom sends data from users of its iOS app to Facebook for advertising purposes.”
The last thing that you would ever want is to compromise the integrity of your couples’ privacy and security.
So What Do We Offer Instead?
Our course is the most popular choice among ministry leaders and couples from all around the world as an online, on-demand Pre-Cana program.
Your couples will have peace of mind knowing they can register anytime, anywhere to get started immediately. You as a ministry leader will have peace of mind knowing that your couples are receiving a comprehensive and sacramental marriage preparation experience.
We were delighted to know that this program was offered online, to complete our Pre-Cana in a time of social distancing due to COVID-19.
Our course covers all of the “must-have” conversations outlined by the USCCB, offering a high quality program for when gathered events cannot happen.
What Couples Have Said:
“We were delighted to know that this program was offered online, to complete our Pre-Cana in a time of social distancing due to COVID-19.”
“It was convenient and safe to complete together from the comfort of home during COVID-19 but also allowed our conversation together to be private and intimate.”
“It was very easy to complete this course on our own time. Very beneficial for long distance couples, deployed couples, and anyone who cannot attend in person classes during these weird Covid times.”
“Convenient way to prepare for marriage during COVID, and even without COVID, for those with busy lifestyles. My fiancé and I don’t live in the same city and this was the perfect solution to set aside time to go through the courses together.”
“I think it was an excellent resource for us since our in person Pre-Cana day had been cancelled due to COVID-19. It took a little bit of weight off of our shoulders knowing we could complete it on our own time and not have to stress about fitting in a new date before our wedding.”
Contact us today to learn how you can start using our online, on-demand programs in your Parish or Diocese! We look forward to talking with you.
When we think about this time in the Liturgical Calendar, Holy Week and Easter, we usually associate it with church services, long liturgies and rituals. We think of all this as something that happens ‘in church’ but we don’t see much connection of this season with our own lives.
Holy Week is a time to remember and commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But this is not just a historic remembrance. Every time that we commemorate the events of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday) we are living again all the events that Jesus went through to bring us new life.
Holy Week is a life journey through all the tribulations that will bring us to a new life, a life that is everlasting! So how does Holy Week, Easter, and the reality of marriage all work together?
Tribulations in Marriage
Does the perfect marriage exist? Who can say that they have the perfect marriage? What constitutes a ‘perfect’ marriage? These are all valid questions. Especially when we think that because we have some difficulties in our marriage, we may not be “the perfect couple.”
If we are completely honest, we all know that a marriage is not perfect because it is composed of two people who are imperfect. Therefore, there will necessarily be adjustments to be made, challenges to overcome, shortcomings to forgive. This is what we call the day to day reality of the married couple. We not only recognize these challenges, but we work through them, with the help of the tools that have been given to us in our marriage preparation, in marriage enrichment programs and sessions we have attended of in other resources that we may have on hand.
Faith, Marriage and Holy Week
Faith is also a tool that we can use to work through the challenges of marriage. We can look at our marriage and compare it to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Especially now during Holy Week and Easter, we need to keep in mind that Jesus went through all the pain, suffering, rejection, but he always had a clear awareness of what was to come…. The Resurrection. “The Son of Man* must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” Mark 8:31
When Jesus was taken prisoner, when he was being judged, punished, tortured, nailed to the cross and killed, he knew that the pain and the suffering he was experiencing was not the end of his existence. He knew something bigger, much bigger was coming. He knew God had a much bigger plan for him.
Easter, New Life, and Marriage
Every time that we experience challenges in marriage (and we do experience them) we can think of the experience of Holy Week and Easter. We must go through the sorrow of Good Friday in order to arrive to the joy of Easter. In the same way, in our marriage, we must go through difficulties, adjustments and challenges in order to grow as a couple and continue our married life together. Good Friday, the tomb, the darkness of the sepulcher, is only a stage. In our marriage, the problems, conflicts, arguments, disagreements, are also stages that will pass. The glory of the resurrection will come, and the joy of Easter will bring us new life.
That is how Holy Week, Easter, and the reality of marriage all work together.
Happy Easter to you and your family from all of us at The Marriage Group!
COVID and Pre-Cana
On behalf of our team, we pray this message finds you in good health and positive spirits as we all navigate these uncertain times.
One thing that is certain, is that couples preparing for an upcoming wedding can still complete an approved, comprehensive marriage preparation program that is already being used by thousands of couples from all 50 states and 60 countries around the world as well.
The Marriage Group is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge. Our platform of course delivery is able to accommodate virtually unlimited numbers of couples registering for and working through the courses at any given time.
So whether your Parish or Diocese has one couple, one hundred couples, or one thousand couples, that need to be accommodated with an approved Pre-Cana program that you can trust, send them to us to register for Living Our Faith in Love.
“Very convenient in this COVID pandemic! For being an online course, it was more engaging than I expected. Highly recommend!”
Our team is ready to serve you and your couples. We have over 10 years of experience delivering world-class customer service. Navigating through COVID and Pre-Cana can be difficult, but we will stick together through this!
In the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, ministry leaders are eager to understand, use, and promote our popular online, on-demand marriage preparation courses as a trusted alternative to gathered/group events. Many dioceses and parishes are wisely canceling their weekend programs and retreats, leaving engaged couples in a troublesome predicament.
We want to reassure you that we are here, ready to respond to the needs of the Family Life Directors, Marriage Ministry Coordinators and couples around the country.
Our online, on-demand course delivery platform uniquely position us for virtually limitless scale. That means we can accommodate an unlimited number of couples at any given time.
It is important to inform couples that if their gathered/group event for marriage preparation will need to be canceled, they can still continue with their marriage preparation by completing their course online.
Recognizing that many couples are going through the RCIA process in their parishes, now during Lent, they will start their marriage preparation to be able to celebrate their wedding before the Easter Vigil and be completely initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. We are also here for them, by allowing the couples to continue with their plans and completing their marriage preparation online, safely from their homes.
We are now offering discounts during the Coronavirus outbreak to help make our courses even more accessible to so many couples, now finding themselves searching for a leading, comprehensive online experience that meets the Church’s requirements for Pre-Cana.
Please call us at 810-957-1550 or email me at email@example.com
Every year from February 7th to the 14th we celebrate “National Marriage Week.” What is National Marriage Week? It is a week dedicated to celebrate and support marriages in the United States and also in other countries around the world.
“National Marriage Week USA is part of International Marriage Week, with 20 major countries around the world now mobilizing leaders and events to strengthen marriage in their countries.”
Strengthening and Supporting Marriages
Why is it important to strengthen and support marriages? Every day we see the increasing number of divorce rates among married couples. Marriage as an institution is under attack. Today more than ever we need to do everything we can to support and maintain the values that bring a man and a woman together in marriage.
An Opportunity for Couples to Build Up their own Marriage
What if once a year you and your spouse had the opportunity to work more intentionally on your own marriage? Would this help your relationship? That is exactly the point of National Marriage week. It is an opportunity for you and your spouse to take a closer look at your marriage and see the areas where you still need to grow and to celebrate those areas in which you are doing well.
Celebrate Marriage, Celebrate Love
The love that brought you and your spouse together needs to be enriched, supported and celebrated. Take advantage of National Marriage Week and all its resources to do that. Specially important during this week is to pray and reflect on the wonderful gift of love that God has given you. We invite you to reflect and read together the following scripture passage and tell each other what it means for you.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor 13: 4-8)
The name Advent (from the Latin word Adventus, which signifies a coming) is applied to the time of year during which the Church requires the faithful to prepare for the celebration of the feast of Christmas — the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The season of Advent lasts for four weeks and the preparation for the coming of Christ must be taken in three different contexts:
- the birth of Christ at Christmas,
- the coming of Christ into our lives in the Sacrament of Holy Communion
- the coming of Christ at the end of times
The color purple used during the season of Advent symbolizes penance, preparation and sacrifice, except in the third week of Advent (Gaudete Sunday, which means Sunday of Joy or Rejoicing). That is when the color purple is replaced by the color rose that symbolizes the joy of Christmas that is about to come.
The Meaning of the Advent Wreath
- The circular shape of the Advent Wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of God; He has no beginning and no end.
- The four candles symbolize the four Sundays of Advent.
- Three candles are purple and one is rose — that is the candle that is lit on Gaudette Sunday.
Advent and Marriage Preparation
Advent is the season of hope, the season of preparation, the season of getting ready for what is to come.
In Advent, we experience the anticipation and the excitement of preparing for something that we enjoy. It is something that we have been expecting.
In many ways, marriage preparation is like the season of Advent. It is the anticipation, the getting ready, and the preparation that takes place ahead of time.
The time we dedicate to marriage preparation is filled with expectation and anticipation for the wedding ceremony. It is also for the new life that the couple will start together as a family.
Every time you complete your marriage preparation sessions or online segments, it is like lighting a candle in the Advent wreath. You feel that sense of accomplishment and the feeling that the big day is getting closer!
As you advance in your marriage preparation, you start feeling the anticipation of the new married life you are about to begin. In the same way, our journey through Advent brings us closer and closer to the birth of Jesus Christ and his coming into the world — making everything new.
Have A Blessed Advent
It is our hope that this season of Advent will help you to reflect more deeply into the real meaning of Christmas and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives.
Let us rejoice in the fact that He wants to come into our lives and make everything new! Let us prepare our hearts to His coming and let us love in the same way He loves us.
How often do we remember to give thanks for the acts of love and kindness we constantly receive? How many times do we take for granted the love that surrounds us? The celebration of Thanksgiving comes into our lives once a year as a reminder to be thankful, not only for the material things that we have, but also for the spiritual gifts we constantly receive. That is what we mean by saying, love is thankful.
Be Thankful for Your Engagement
If you are an engaged couple preparing for marriage, you are probably used to the constant expressions of love to one another. That is a very good thing! God created us to love Him and to love one another:
“I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)
This is the time to learn how to be thankful for the love God has given you in the person who is now your spouse-to-be. In your prayers, remember to thank God for the love you receive from this person!
Be Thankful for Your Marriage
If you are an already-married couple, you may be noticing that the expressions of love are decreasing as the years pass. It is important to go back to the beginnings of your relationship to rekindle the love that brought you together in the first place.
Remember the expressions of love that you gave one another and start doing those things again. Be thankful for the presence of your spouse in your life. God is leading you to heaven through the presence of your husband/wife in your life journey. This is a reason to be thankful.
Be Thankful for Your Ministry
If you are a ministry leader in a diocese or parish, there may be times when you feel that all the work you do is not appreciated or even noticed. The expressions of love and appreciation may not always be there, but your desire to serve with love is always there. That is a gift you have received from God. Be thankful for the opportunity and the call you have received to serve others in the ministry that you do.
Being thankful is not only the right thing to do, it is also what builds relationships with family and friends. Developing an attitude of gratitude brings peace and joy to the heart. In every situation, in every circumstance, let us remember to always live our life with that attitude of thanksgiving to God for everything He gives us.
From all of us here at The Marriage Group, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving Day.