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five months, I’ll have the pleasure (or so I’ve
been told) of experiencing one of the most exciting
and joyous moments in my life – I’ll be
getting married and kissing goodbye to singlehood.
In taking this quantum leap into marriage, my thoughts
as well as my fiancée’s have invariably
focused on the all-important wedding. Preparations
are well underway with the reception, photographer,
videographer, and church already booked months in
booking our wedding at Sts. Peter and Paul, my fiancée
Helen and I discovered that we couldn’t get
married at the church unless we took a marriage preparation
course. Thoughts of listening to uninteresting lectures
coupled with impractical advice crossed my mind. My
initial course of action was to look for a weekend
retreat where everything would be crammed into three
days and it would be over with the blink of an eye.
Unfortunately, when I contacted the Queen of Apostles
Retreat Centre, they were fully booked. I was then
informed that my own parish, Sts. Peter and Paul,
offered an eight-week marriage preparation course.
I conducted a little research and found out that the
course had been in place for a number of years with
Grant and Cheryl Arnold as the main facilitators.
That seemed all right since I knew them, and besides,
there was still space available! Dutifully, I registered
for the course with my fiancée, with the thought
of just fulfilling the minimal requirements.
the first day of class, accompanied by my fiancée,
I arrived with a sense of trepidation and fear, not
really knowing what to expect. As I walked into the
room, I was surprised to see many familiar faces including
Mike and Cora Bryce, Doug and Natalie Meier, and Flavian
and Olive Rego. I soon learned that they would be
assisting Grant and Cheryl with the presentations
and group discussions, and this definitely helped
put my mind at ease. With twenty-two engaged couples
in attendance, we were told that we were the largest
class ever. During introductions, it was also explained
to us that the intention of the course was to prepare
us for a successful marriage, to help us start communicating
about different issues before the wedding, and not
afterwards. It’s ironic that many people spend
so much time preparing for their wedding, which lasts
for just one day, while they spend very little time
contemplating about the marriage itself, which lasts
for a lifetime.
format for each week was quite straightforward beginning
with an hour’s presentation by a lead couple
and then continuing with smaller discussion groups
to allow everyone an opportunity to share their views
with others. The topics that were touched upon during
the course included Readiness for Marriage, Communication,
Conflict Resolution, Responsible Parenthood, Natural
Family Planning, Sexuality, and the Sacrament of Matrimony.
One of the key topics emphasized during the course
was Money Management, since 70% of married couples
actually divorce over financial issues.
with each passing week, I began to appreciate the
course more and more. No longer was I attending out
of obligation, I actually was looking forward to each
and every class. The classes as well as the resultant
course notes provided the impetus for many of the
discussions that Helen and I had on topics that we
had never thought about. It was time well spent.
the last day of the course finally upon us, I knew
I would miss attending class every Wednesday. To celebrate,
a mass was held for all the engaged couples and a
nice surprise occurred when the facilitating couples
renewed their wedding vows. An informal, catered dinner
in the church hall followed, providing a fitting finale
to the eight weeks. Everyone passed the course with
flying colours, although I thought my success was
in doubt until the very end.
to all the facilitating couples for their hard work
and dedication in making the marriage preparation
course a success. Good luck and congratulations to
all of the engaged couples as they prepare for their