Congratulations on Your Engagement!
The time of engagement is both exciting, but also a little stressful. The first thing we encourage you to do is to take a deep breath, relax and know that we share in your joy! Too often we over emphasize the process of marriage prep and forget to stop and celebrate that you two are getting married! In short, we can’t wait to hear your story and walk with you!
So, Where Do We Start?
First, give us a call or drop us an e-mail! The parish phone number is 715-832-2504. Extension 100 will send you to our secretary Alison who will set up a time for you to visit us at the parish. The day you come will involve three conversations.
Secretary = Our Parish Secretary Alison will help get the initial paperwork started with you.
Our Faith Formation Director – Our Faith Formation Director Robin will talk with you about whether or not you wish to join the parish. Some people presume that you must join the parish where your marriage is occurring. The reality is that you don’t have to be parishioners. We do ask that you are connected with a Catholic parish that is your spiritual home and we will need that information. At the same time, if you don’t have a spiritual home, don’t presume you can’t get married in the Church. We will be honored to work with you toward your marriage. Marriage is a right you have as a couple. It is our goal to help you realize that goal!
Our Pastor – Our Pastor Fr. James will also meet with you. He’ll asking piercing questions like: How did the two of you meet? When did you know you wanted to marry each other? How did he propose to you? Did he hit a home run when doing so? You know, the really hard questions! 😉
If you can’t tell, there was some intentional humor in that last section. Fr. James will discuss needed paperwork and the different steps of our program. However, he is more interested in getting to know you at the first meeting before we delve into the paperwork.
Something that Fr. James insists on doing is taking each couple out for dinner as part of the marriage prep process. No paperwork, no files, just a night that you can get to know him, he can get to know you, and explore one, simple question – What kind of Pastor do you want Fr. James to be for you and your family? The meal is Fr. James’ pre-wedding present to the two of you.
The Administrative Steps
Okay, now for stuff that gets couples nervous – The paperwork! Truth be told, there really isn’t that much to worry about. Here’s what we will explore with you.
- Parish Membership – Do you want to join St. Olaf Parish? Great! Are you already a parishioner at another parish? No problem! Are you a sincerely seeker of God with no spiritual home? That’s great! We’d love to understand your journey! Parish membership somewhere is required, but, again, don’t jump to conclusions. Come in and chat! We want to understand your journey!
- M-A Form – The first marriage specific form we fill out is what is called an “M-A Form.” The easiest way to explain it is that it’s an exploration of whether or not you are free to get married in the Catholic Church. To help quiet some fears, here are some basic questions Fr. James sometimes gets from couples during the M-A Process:
- We are a mixed couple (one Catholic and the other non-Catholic) can we still get married in the Catholic Church? Answer: Yes!!
- Does the non-Catholic need to convert to Catholicism? Answer: Nope
- We struggle with some of the things the Catholic Church teaches. Can we still get married if we have struggles with our faith? Answer: Yes! Questions are part of the journey!
- I could go on, but these are the kind of questions that emerge while filling out the M-A Form. In short, yes, it’s “paperwork,” but it’s really an exploration of your faith journey to answer a simple question: Are you free to marry in the Catholic Church?
- FOCCUS – Focus is what Fr. James likes to jokingly call “The Meyers-Briggs of Marriage Prep.” The two of you will receive an e-mail from FOCCUS to fill out. The form is a series of questions about the two fo you with three possible responses: Agree, Disagree, or Unsure. After you fill out the questions, we receive the results at the parish and set up a meeting with you and one of our parish couples to go through your answers. The questions seek to identify areas of stress in marriage a couple need to discuss: Spirituality, Finances, Parenting Styles, Intimacy, Etc. The point isn’t to agree on everything – Its actually healthy if there are some areas of disagreement. The main point is to try and help you have a successful marriage, and this survey is designed to help you toward that goal.
- Marriage Retreat – Each couple will need to attend a marriage retreat. There are retreats in the city of Eau Claire and other cities of the Diocese. Ask us about the retreats and we’ll get you set up!
- Natural Family Planning – The Diocese strongly encourages engaged couples to explore their marital sexuality through a series of Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes. There are a couple options we can discuss. Some couples are hesitant and concerned about taking this course. Again, we want to accompany you on this journey. If you have concerns, we can work with those concerns. We stand for your marriage and want to see you receive the gift of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
- Ceremony Preparation – What do you want for readings? What about music? Ah, yes, the fun paperwork! We will be happy to help you plan your ceremony!
To download all the above attachments in one document: Marriage Packet