by ROWENA OREJANA
Auckland’s Pre-marriage Education team has changed its name to Marriage and Family to highlight
its response to Pope Francis’s call to support the family.
Marriage and Family coordinator Sandra Armstrong said the name makes a statement that the
support off ered by them goes beyond the wedding day.
“It’s a natural progression. It’s a heightened awareness that came out of the Synod of the Family. It had been happening, but we’re actually formalising it,” she said.
“The name pre-marriage is limiting because we offer post-wedding day support as well as
workshops. That has been happening.”
Among the post-wedding initiatives is the sending of a congratulatory note and reflection
for couples celebrating their first, second or third wedding anniversaries.
On July 26, they will hold a big “reconnector” event for couples who completed the Evenings for the Engaged course last year.
“We are going to do that at St Columba [Centre, Auckland]. It is a casual social, but we’ll have liturgy as well. We’ll have the anointing of hands and [the couples will] be guided through to a little prayer that will take it from a social thing to spiritual support to celebrate their wedding,” Mrs Armstrong said.
Mrs Armstrong said a number of couples who had been through the programme had asked if they
could meet a year later just to see how they are getting on.
“They really enjoy what they do [in the programme] and they want to continue it in their marriage. It’s a facilitated time when they can talk to each other about things that are really important in their relationship,” she explained.
The feedback is positive. One participant said he thought marriage was “a simple union of two
people, but this course has prepared me for a lifetime relationship with my fiancee, and now I’m looking forward to it”.
Another participant said he felt “stonger in our relationship, more equipped to handle conflict and identify each other’s needs, and more grounded in the understanding that everyone goes through difficult and stressful times, but knowing how to manage each other is the key”.
Mrs Armstrong said their team is part of a bigger package of support that the diocese offers to
Catholic families.
“We hope to retain those links when they go back to the parish. [When they start their family]
there is a transition to the religious education programme. And there’s a hope that as they come for their baptism preparations, that they will have coffee or play groups and they will make links, connections or friendships there and they will stay. So that is the broader vision,” she said.

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