You have decided to get married in the Catholic Church — now what? You might have heard by now that you need to go through an approved marriage preparation program, otherwise known as “Pre-Cana.” The next step is for you to determine whether you will complete online or in person Pre-Cana.
The intent of this article is not to say either way which one is better — that would be subjective, so deciding which option is “better” is all about personal preference.
In this article, we will discuss both options and the experiences that can be included with both.
The Online Option
Thanks to the internet, information is readily available for the plucking. Some of our phones now are more powerful than our computers! The idea that we can connect with loved ones on the other side of the earth in a matter of seconds is incredible and sounds like something out of Star Trek.
For more than a decade, we have offered Pre-Cana as an option to conquer online and on-demand Catholic marriage preparation. The obvious, initial benefit for this is that couples are able to navigate through the course whenever and wherever.
From the feedback given to us by the thousands of couples who choose our program each year, here are other reasons they have enjoyed the online option:
- Convenience: Life is busy now. It is difficult, and in a lot of cases, impossible, to be able to be off work and free for an entire day, weekend, or the same evenings for multiple weeks. This can often make it challenging for couples to attend their Parishes schedule Pre-Cana events.
- Privacy: These are serious and often intimate topics. Being able to take the time and have focused, in-depth, conversations with privacy will make sure that you are both on the same page with them. Often with group sessions you won’t be able to take the time to have these conversations so discreetly.
- Long Distance Couples: You may be currently living in different locations whether for work, school or several other factors. This can make it physically impossible to attend Pre-Cana at the same time and location. Online courses allow you to work on them anytime, whether just a few hours apart or half the world apart.
Online learning is a great option for those who prefer to tackle the more complex talking points in the privacy of their home. It’s also great for folks who desire to work at their own pace — taking as much time as they need to dive into a given topic. The video segments in our program can be paused to help give enough of a break for you and your significant other to really connect with each other.
Our online course is accepted in parishes and dioceses all over, so it’s up to you and your significant other if this option is the right option.
That being said, although the online option has several obvious benefits, it might not be for everyone. There might not be the fatigue of an all-day or all-weekend event, but you definitely have to stay motivated.
There may not be the distractions of a crowd, but there still are distractions. “Those mines aren’t going to sweep themselves.” — Jim Halpert, The Office.
The In-Person Option
Most churches offer a flurry of options for in-person Pre-Cana. Whether it’s meeting with your Priest a required number of times before getting married, a one-day event, a weekend retreat — either way, your church is positioned to offer you something that fits your learning style.
A few benefits of an in-person gathering are:
- There is a potential for fellowship with like-minded peers — all in the same boat of preparing for marriage.
- You might be able to hear from several subject matter experts over the course of the program. This helps to make each topic more exciting and the event a little more interesting!
- When taking a course with instructors or sponsor couples, you will be able to ask questions and get feedback in real time, allowing you for greater clarity in the moment.
The challenge can be that an in-person option might not be available in enough time before the wedding day. In-person events might even be cancelled from time to time, and a reschedule might just put you too close to your wedding day — or worse — might not be available until after your wedding day.
Regardless of which option you choose — online vs in person Pre-Cana — the most important thing to remember is to be transparent with your significant other and the ministry leader helping you to prepare for marriage. Please make sure that you are scheduling plenty of meetings with your Priest or Deacon for this important step towards your wedding day.