Couples who feel a calling towards being marriage educators for Auckland diocese should “just do it”, advised the diocese’s Marriage and Family leader Gerry Smith.

Mrs Smith said she is praying for 20 married couples who can be there to help prepare engaged couples for marriage.

“What we’re hoping to do is to recruit some volunteer couples who’ve been married more than 10 years, [for whom] marriage is an important part of their lives,” she said.

Mrs Smith explained that the marriage educators would be role models for those who are about to get married.

“The Holy Spirit will do his work and tap that person on the shoulder to say, ‘hey, this is your calling’. That’s how we recruit. We truly believe the Holy Spirit chooses the couple,” she said.

She said the task of being a role model might appear daunting to those thinking about this ministry, but “they just have to trust in the call”.

“Nobody’s marriage is perfect. Marriage can be a bumpy journey. But the fact that you are able to stay together
and make it important to you, that’s all it takes,” she said.

She explained that marriage preparation ministry is not a marriage counselling or guidance service.

“You are just a friendly support with the principles of Jesus’ love. It is about love, acceptance, forgiveness, all those
virtues that Jesus had, that’s what we are looking for,” she said.

“You just give them (engaged couples) the opportunity to concentrate on each other. . . [supporting them]. . . in a
non-judgmental way,” she added.

Mrs Smith said married couples who are thinking about this ministry can commit as much or as little time as they are comfortable giving.

“We are very grateful for anything. Some of our [educator] couples do a course every two weeks. Some people just do them a couple of times a year,” she said.

Mrs Smith said marriage educators are given training on the courses offered to engaged couples.

“We go through a thorough training programme so that people feel really comfortable before they start. There
will be quite a long lead up to doing the courses. We just don’t throw you into the deep end,” she added.

The marriage preparation itself is conducted in three parts. The first part is called “Commit”, where engaged couples
are welcomed in an inclusive, relaxed meeting. The second is “Commit” follow- up, a confidential session where the
engaged couple is invited into the home of a trained facilitating couple.

The third part is called “Love is a Decision”, a 12-hour course which could be held for two consecutive Saturdays or one night a week for six weeks. This part is led by trained marriage educators, often with a priest who is there for some parts of the course. Mrs Smith emphasised that the marriage preparation programme is non-judgemental. Some couples may be living together with children and want
to get married. Others may be marrying someone of a different faith.

“We’re not here to judge anyone. We’re here to support, love and cherish them and make them feel really special. We do
that through the welcoming atmosphere as they come through the door of our homes,” she said.

Mrs Smith said being marriage educators offers a unique benefit of growing in one’s own marriage. It would also show educators’ children that marriage is important.

Mrs Smith said those who are interested in taking this up as their ministry can contact her by phone at 09-3603025 or
through email: gerrys@cda.org.nz

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