Sacrament of Marriage
The Church recognizes the sacredness of married life. As a Sacrament, lived by a couple, it is an occasion of God’s grace in our midst. In order to help engaged couples prepare for their sacramental vocation, the Church requires them to participate in a formal process of marriage preparation. For couples who seek to celebrate their wedding ceremony at Notre Dame, marriage preparation consists of three steps.
Step I The Interview
Couples should call the rectory to arrange an appointment with a member of the pastoral staff. This appointment is best scheduled a year before the proposed wedding date. During this interview the pastoral staff person will complete the required pre nuptial interview form, provide for the engaged couple a list of required papers (e.g. new baptismal certificates), and explain the FOCCUS requirement and the Pre Cana options available to the couple.
Step II FOCCUS
FOCCUS, an acronym for Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study, is a pre-marital inventory tool that is meant to provide the engaged couple with a “snapshot” of their relationship. The couple’s responses enable them to see their level of agreement/disagreement in fourteen different categories, e.g., communication, family and children, intimacy issues. FOCCUS is not intended to predict the future success of a marriage. It is meant to provide couples with a tool which will enable them to enter into substantive discussions.
Couples register for FOCCUS at the initial interview (Step I). They are contacted by a parish couple, specially trained to administer FOCCUS. The engaged couple is invited to the home of the parish married couple for two visits. On the first visit they do the FOCCUS instrument. On the second visit, the engaged couple is given feedback
Step III: Pre Cana
Couples are required by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to complete a Marriage Preparation (Pre Cana) Program prior to marriage. Couples may complete this requirement in the parish or through participation in a Diocesan program. Options will be explained to couples during the initial interview (Step I).
The Notre Dame parish program begins with the assumption that Pre Cana is a tool for couples. Couples must prepare themselves for marriage, no one else can prepare them! Notre Dame provides two Pre Cana options for engaged couples: A Large Group Program and a Small Group In-Home Program. We are in need of volunteers for these programs. If interested please call the rectory office.
Large Group Program
Limited to twenty couples, the program consists of three session, each three hours in length. Married couples from the parish host the evenings and make presentations on topics related to marriage. This program is offered twice each year.
Small Group In-Home Program
Limited to eight couples. The program is conducted in a small group format. Each group consists of two married couples, who facilitate the group, and four engaged couples. There are five sessions. At the first session, which takes place at Notre Dame, couples meet their groups and schedule the three in-home sessions to follow. Sessions 2-4 take place in the homes of the married, facilitator couples. These sessions are each two hours in length. The fifth and final session takes place at Notre Dame and includes a Blessing for engaged couples at the 5:30PM Mass, a light supper, and a presentation on how to plan the wedding liturgy.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre offers a variety of marriage preparation programs, ranging from four nights, two full days, an Engaged Encounter weekend. These options will be explained at the initial interview (Step I). Couples must register for Diocesan programs with the Diocese of Rockville Centre Family Life Office.