A Marriage-Affirming Parish

The most important part of a marriage-friendly community is cultivating an affirming and empowering mentality towards married couples. They are a tremendous resource in proclaiming the gospel. They are not simply another group with pastoral needs; they are a key resource for evangelisation. Try these ideas to empower and enliven marriage in your community.

  1. Have an annual ‘Celebration of Marriage’ to affirm couples and the giftedness of marriage, e.g. St Valentine’s Day (Feb 14), Marriage Week, or National Marriage Day (Aug 13 in Australia).
  2. Celebrate significant wedding anniversaries – have a regular ‘Congratulations’ column in the parish/school newsletter, invite couples celebrating an anniversary to be blessed by the community at Mass, or have a special annual Mass to which couples could be personally invited.
  3. Ask a couple (or several) to give a short testimony on how God has blessed them through their marriage. They could share it at an appropriate time during the Sunday liturgy or it could be published in the community newsletter.
  4. Invite couples (rather than individual spouses) to take up ministry or be members of the parish pastoral council or school parent council. Couples bring a special charism to the children’s liturgy, youth group, welcoming team, bereavement ministry, or pastoral planning. Seek out those who have a vibrant sense of their sacramental witness for leadership.
  5. Establish a ‘marriage/family ministry’ made up of couples to plan and execute marriage initiatives in the community.
  6. Make information about marriage strengthening resources available to parishioners through the newsletter, notice board and parish web site.
  7. Combine resources with the parishes/schools in your deanery to host a marriage enrichment event (such as couples retreat or weekend workshop).
  8. Sponsor a couple to represent the parish/school at a marriage conference or marriage education training course. Make sure they share their experience with the community on their return. (e.g. Renaissance of Marriage, MARENC)
  9. Invite couples to a movie night with a positive marriage message (e.g. Fireproof, The Story of Us).
  10. Purchase some marriage resources for the parish lending library, e.g. Threshold magazine subscription (CSME), Holy Sex (Gregory Popcak), Good News about Sex and Marriage (Christopher West).
  11. Run a Theology of the Body Study Group for couples of your community. (Resources available: here).
  12. Invite a couple to speak about the vocation of marriage to the youth group, senior school classes or the RCIA group.

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