This sacramental preparation is an invitation to continue your faith journey, and to grow in a relationship with God and each other.
The Marriage Preparation process is an invaluable period designed to help engaged couples develop a better understanding of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, as well as to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple. The process will assist engaged couples in learning about communication skills, spirituality, finances, sexuality, Natural Family planning, and much more, as well as assistance with planning your wedding ceremony.
Step 1: Meet With a Priest or Deacon
Contact the priest or deacon who will witness your marriage as soon as you become engaged, or at least nine months before your proposed wedding date. You will be meeting with your priest/deacon several times.
The diocesan marriage directives require a premarital inventory of all couples before marriage. FOCCUS is one particular inventory that is used the most in our diocese, and across the country. This inventory is not a test – it is a discussion tool to help you communicate about the areas of your relationship that are strong and those that need work. A priest, deacon, or someone assigned by either gives instruction on taking this inventory online and schedules a follow-up session.
It is recommended that the FOCCUS inventory and follow-up session be done before you attend a Marriage Preparation Series.
Step 2: Attend Marriage Preparation Programs
Attendance at Marriage Preparation programs in the Diocese can be done 8 to 12 months before your wedding. You will learn about communication skills, finances, sexuality, Natural Family Planning, spirituality, becoming a “domestic church”, and many other helpful and important topics. You will also receive information on planning the wedding ceremony.
All of the following options fulfill the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown requirements. You only need to attend one option that suits your schedule.
Marriage Preparation Course
The Marriage Preparation Course is an invaluable series of two or three sessions designed to help engaged couples develop a better understanding of the sacrament; to evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life; and to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple.
Sessions are led by married couples, as well as a priest/deacon, and are held in various locations and dates throughout the diocese.
Engaged Couples Weekend
A weekend away with plenty of time together to develop a better understanding of the sacrament, to evaluate and deepen your readiness to live married life, and to gain insights into yourselves as both individuals and as a couple. The weekend gives you an opportunity to look at your commitment to each other in a deeper way as you prepare for a holy and lasting marriage. Includes informal presentations by a team which includes married couples, and acts as a great wedding gift from parents or friends.
No weekends are available in our diocese at this time. Weekends offered through Catholic Engaged Encounter are acceptable marriage preparation for our diocese. Dates and locations can be viewed here.
A parish-based program in which an engaged couple meets with a married couple from the parish for a series of meetings. The Sponsor Couple shares their personal experience of marriage with the engaged couple through a couple-to-couple approach.
Arrange this meeting through your parish, if it is offered there.
For Those Separated By Distance
These options are accepted by the diocese if you are unable to attend any of the above programs:
- Sponsor Couple
- Marriage Preparation in your fiancé’s diocese
- Engaged Encounter elsewhere
- Online Marriage Preparation – contact the Family Life Office for more information
Remarriage Sponsor Couple
The issues facing couples entering a second marriage when one or both have been married before are more complex than first marriages. Preparation should be more comprehensive. Therefore, we offer a Remarriage Sponsor Couple program.
To register, email the Family Life office