We’re so glad that you’ve chosen to marry in the Catholic Church. We are privileged to accompany you on the Journey of Your Love, and honored that you have entrusted us with equipping you to traverse both the joys and the inevitable challenges that married life brings. Our great joy, above all, is to assist you in encountering Christ’s love and its power to nourish and transform relationships.
May the Holy Spirit guide and direct you on this journey of love for each other, for your families, and for your extended family of faith, the Church. May this process of marriage preparation be one of enrichment, formation, and growth in faith, hope, and love.
– Most Reverend, Robert McElroy
Bishop of San Diego
1. Meet With Your Marriage Formation Minister
As soon as you are ready to begin preparing for the sacrament of marriage, and before setting a date, call your parish to schedule a meeting with your marriage formation minister (typically your priest or deacon), who may also serve as the celebrant for your wedding. (COVID Update: Couples can meet with Father or Deacon over Zoom!)
2. Take the FOCCUS Inventory
FOCCUS (Facilitate Open Caring Communication Understanding & Study) is meant to facilitate communication and conflict resolution skills before marriage. A REFOCCUS inventory is available to couples who have been civilly married for at least a few years. Your parish/formation minister will provide directions for completing the questionnaire. (COVID Update: Couples can take the FOCCUS online and then meet with their marriage prep minister over Zoom to review the results.)
3. Choose A Mentor Couple
Couples will choose a mentor couple who can support, encourage, and pray for them throughout—and beyond— the marriage preparation process. Marriage formation ministers can help engaged couples select a mentor couple. Witness to Love is the recommended diocesan process for guiding the couple-to-couple encounter. (COVID Update: Couples can meet with their mentor couples over Zoom!)
What makes Witness to Love unique is that the engaged couples choose their own mentor couple. This is a couple they both admire and see as a source of faith formation. This mentor couple gives them a concrete connection and integration into the parish. Through the sharing of the mentor couples’ own journey of love, the engaged couple inherits a “lifeline“ of support in their commitment to Jesus and his church.
4. Participate in one or more of the following Marriage Formation Programs/Retreats:
- Celebrating Your Love (CYL) Diocesan Day
A one day retreat held on Saturdays at locations throughout the Diocese. Explores Catholic teaching on marriage and provides an overview of practical and valuable skills for marriage. Go to sdcatholic.org/cyl for dates and registration.(COVID Update: CYL's through the rest of 2021 will take place online.)
- Engaged Encounter Weekend
This inspirational weekend retreat provides engaged couples valuable space and time to explore the depth of marriage. Married teams, partnered with a priest, guide couples on a journey of preparation for their upcoming sacrament. Through personal sharing and Catholic theology, the weekend challenges couples. They explore essential topics such as: communication, understanding “love” as a decision, true intimacy, forgiveness, and living as a sacrament in order to build a strong marriage foundation. Young civilly married couples (married less than 2-3 years) are encouraged to attend to explore the sacrament they will become with their marriage in the Catholic faith." Go to engagedencountersd.org for dates and registration. For Spanish, visit enoviossandiego.com(COVID Update: Engaged Encounter is currently taking place virtually over Zoom.)
- A New Beginning
For couples entering a second marriage after the divorce or death of a former spouse (only one party needs to have been previously married). Topics of discussion are geared towards blended families, children of a previous marriage and grieving loss. For retreat dates and locations, visit sdcatholic.org/cyl
- Marriage Encounter Weekend
Similar to Engaged Encounter, but for couples who have already been civilly married for more than a few years. Go to wwme-sandiego.org for dates and registration. (COVID Update: Marriage Encounter is now available online! Register at ocwwme.org.)
- Online "Pre-Cana" Program
Intended only for couples for whom it is completely impossible to attend a marriage preparation program in person. Go to catholicmarriageprepclass.com(COVID Update: Now that they are available online, the Celebrating Your Love Day and Engaged Encounter should be the first options for any couple preparing for marriage in San Diego.)
- Parish-Based Program
Parishes may offer local and applicable parish-based formation programming for couples. Check with your marriage formation minister.
Married life is a process of growth in which each spouse is God’s means of helping the other to mature. Change, improvement, the flowering of the good qualities present in each person—all these are possible. Each marriage is a kind of ‘salvation history,’ which from fragile beginnings—thanks to God’s gift and creative and generous response on our part—grows over time into something precious and enduring.” – Pope Francis, The Joy of Love
Associate Director, Separated & Divorced Ministry
Phone: (858) 490-8292