Is it compulsory to attend marriage preparation, in order to get married in the Catholic Church?
No, it is not mandatory. However, the Catholic Church has an extremely high regard for Marriage and family life, and most priests will strongly encourage a couple to attend marriage preparation. They can decline to marry a couple, especially those outside of their parish. Some priests prepare couples in their parish. In the most recent Sydney Archdiocese policy document titled ‘Marriage Preparation in the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’ (2009), Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal Pell writes:
The Church desires to give the engaged couple every help and grace possible to ensure their happiness together and the happiness of their future children – to help them understand the reality of the sacrament and to discover its true beauty.
This follows from existing policy from the 2006 Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference:
The ACBC adopts this common marriage education policy for use in Australia and recommends that each diocese implements the following: require all couples to participate in an approved marriage education program at least six months prior to marriage; establish and support marriage education agencies in each diocese to approve, coordinate and promote marriage education.
Do we both have to be practising Catholics to attend marriage preparation with CatholicCare?
CatholicCare is an agency serving the whole community. Our role is to meet couples ‘where they are at’ and to help them in a grounded and respectful way, to look at their future, and connect at this wonderful stage of their lives. Our courses are skill-based, and are based on world-leading evidence-based clinical research in marriage and relationship studies. As we are a faith-based organization, we also share Church teachings on marriage.
For those who are interested in further study of Church teachings on marriage, see http://www.sydney.catholic.org.au/marriage or Catholic Australia at http://www.catholicaustralia.com.au/page.php?pg=sacraments-marriage.
We’ve have been together for a long time. What can we get from attending marriage preparation?
If you read the Testimonials section (see a tab on the left side column), you will see that couples at very different stages of their relationships got a lot from participating. Enthusiasm and openness are all you need to bring to benefit from a course. We encourage you to take what is most relevant for your own relationship. Only you are the ‘experts’ of your own relationship, who know your strengths and growths as a couple.
When is the best time to do a marriage preparation course?
It is advised that you book your preparation soon after your engagement, because:
- You can get first preference on the dates of your choice
- The closer you get to the wedding, the more stressful it becomes. We can help you learn skills to make your wedding preparations smoother and conflict-free, and to build your confidence in handling any challenges that inevitably arise (i.e. seating arrangements for the in-laws!)
- For those getting married overseas or with limited availability/shift work, the earlier you ring us the more options we can offer you.
We cannot find a course to suit our time availability. What’s the best option for us?
The most flexible option available to couples is the Intimate II course. While it is more expensive, it allows you to negotiate the session times, dates and location with the educator.
With group courses, if you cannot attend part of the course, we will make every effort to fit you into sessions to allow you to complete a course (please note that an administrative fee will apply after 2 alterations of the original booking).
If you are unable to complete a whole course, and we cannot fit you into alternative sessions, we can provide proof of partial attendance for your priest, on request.
My fiancé is overseas, and arriving to Australia for the wedding. Our priest wants me to provide a Certificate of Attendance. Can I attend by myself?
Yes you can, but please keep in mind that our courses are designed around couple activities. We strongly recommend that you discuss other options with your priest, before enrolling. For example, we are happy to provide a booking confirmation and to offer you a service once your wife/husband is able to attend with you.
We are struggling financially right now. Can we get a fee reduction?
Yes, a fee reduction is available for holders of a current Centrelink Health Care card. Please contact the MRE office for more information.