The Methodology of Implementation
To help us in this journey, we will draw on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults as a model for implementation:
Marriage education/formation, like adult initiation, is a gradual process. It is a journey that begins in our family of origin and continues through many phases of spiritual/intellectual/psychological growth and development throughout our lives.
The place where all of us begin our understanding of the Christian faith and how to live a Christian life is as a member of our family of origin and as a member of the worshiping community. The entire local Church and parish community need to become more intentional in promoting vocations, in particular the vocation of marriage, and accompany those who are preparing for this sacrament and those already married.
A sponsor couple who knows or comes to know the man and woman about to marry can assist them in practical ways and also serve as witnesses of the reality of Christian marriage for the engaged pair by their faith, example and good qualities, and friendship. The sponsor couple can sustain newlyweds in moments of hesitancy and anxiety, in times of difficulty and doubt.
This education/formation process will include reflections on the mysteries of our faith in relation to daily life experiences/Mystagogy. It will flow out of Scripture, filled with the Spirit of the Gospels, connected to the liturgy and its symbols, related to the Church’s year of grace-filled celebrations, and respond to the varied needs of singles, engaged and married couples.
The "Sponsor Couple" Approach
It is the one to one couple format which provides a higher level of intimacy and flexibility that is impossible in a traditional large group.
It can be focused on the particular needs and issues of each engaged and/or cohabitating couple
The Sponsor Couple can be matched with engaged/cohabitating couple according to their age and experience.
Sponsor Couples consistently claim that the process of sponsoring benefits their own marriage as well.
Communication Skills Workshops
The Diocesan Marriage Initiative includes an extensive training in relationship skills including communication skills. The initiative highlights the partnership with Healthy Relationship California (HRC), a pioneering non-profit organization that works throughout California to improve the well-being of children by strengthening the relationship of parents through Marriage Education and Relationship Skills classes. This approach complements and supports the Marriage Initiative by providing specific skills and knowledge necessary for marital stability, strengthening marriages and reducing family breakdown. By recognizing that faith-based organizations are important and have the potential to deliver marriage education and relationship skills to couples and individuals, HRC has provided a grant to the Diocese of San Bernardino through the Office of Catechetical Ministry.