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The Marriage Catechumenate: Marriage Preparation and Newlywed Outreach

“Among the elements to be instilled in this journey of faith, which is similar to the catechumenate, there must also be a deeper knowledge of the mystery of Christ and the Church, of the meaning of grace and of the responsibility of Christian marriage, as well as preparation for taking an active and conscious part in the rites of the marriage liturgy.”

– St. John Paul II

“The Church, in every age and especially to young people, is called to proclaim anew the beauty and abundance of grace contained in the sacrament of marriage and family life which flows from it.”

– Pope Francis, Preface to Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life

The Marriage Catechumenate is unique approach to form and mentor couples throughout marriage preparation and in their first five years of married life. Rather than approaching the sacrament of marriage with a “checklist” mentality, engaged couples are lovingly welcomed by their parish community and invited to open their hearts and minds to God’s plan for a joy-filled marriage. 

To assist parishes in the implementation of the Marriage Catechumenate, new Guidelines for the Marriage Catechumenate are available online. See below for the link to the digital version.

Read the 2022 document with a preface by Pope Francis, which is available in English, Italian, and Spanish on the marriage catechumenate.

Pastoral Application of Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

For clergy and parish evangelists – download and read the new Guidelines for the Marriage Catechumenate. View the Introduction to the Marriage Catechumenate videos by clicking on the “Request Access” link below to receive our new video series on the implementation of the Marriage Catechumenate, which was filmed live at the October 12, 2023 Marriage & Family In-Service.

An Introduction to the Marriage Catechumenate

Click the button below to request access to the series of 7 videos introducing the Marriage Catechumenate.

Fully Engaged

A Catholic catechetical premarital inventory for engaged couples with the mentorship-based model.

Witness to Love

A marriage prep model that emphasizes integrating engaged couples back into the life of the parish.

Marriage Prep Resources

Resources for Clergy

  • The M1 Form can be found in English or Spanish on the Chancellor Resource Site.



This is an exciting time filled with many blessings and preparations. The steps below will help you in your Catholic Marriage Preparation Process.

1. As  soon as possible after your engagement, contact your parish and set up a meeting with a priest or deacon.  He will walk you through the following steps to assist you in preparing for a life-long and joy-filled marriage.

2. Choose your own mentor couple using Witness to Love, or complete one of the following marriage preparation inventories and particpate in a follow-up with your mentor couple:

3. Attend Genesis: A Pre-Cana Retreat. See all available dates for our Genesis Retreat here.

4. Complete a course in Natural Family Planning. For a list of courses available in person throughout the archdiocese and online, please visit the NFP webpage:

Recommended activities:

  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Pray as a couple daily
  • Participate in on-going events for married couples at your parishes or neighboring parishes.

For questions about the marriage preparation process or marriage Tribunal questions, please contact Katie Englefield at kenglefield@catholicaoc.org. 

For assistance with scheduling, canceling, or re-scheduling a Genesis: Pre-Cana Retreat, please contact Ana Ramirez at aramirez@catholicaoc.org.

Marriage Enrichment

Marriage Resources from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Marriage Enrichment and Support

  • Cana Family Institute – Cana Family Institute partners with Catholic parishes, schools, and diocesan leaders to build strong Catholic marriages and families using an enlightening curriculum and accompaniment approach by engaging and transforming the family for Christ and the Church. The Cana Experience focuses on forming parents of young children from birth to 5th grade through regular small group gatherings and annual Advent and Lenten retreats.
  • Cana Feast – Cana Feast is a resource for virtual retreats and supportive community, dedicated to uplifting and inspiring Catholic couples to live their sacramental marriage with faith, hope and love.  Please see their website for more information.
  • Discovering Our Deepest Desire – Discovering our Deepest Desire is a program designed for all couples, from those with strong marriages to those who are struggling. Couples will grow in their marriage with the support of their faith community alongside them. Written in 2013, the marriage curriculum has been implemented in numerous churches. The program works to build marriage teams in parishes while presenting the enrichment curriculum to couples. The DODD curriculum can be presented over 12 sessions, 7 sessions, or an extended weekend.
  • Retrouvaille Program – Do you feel alone? Are you frustrated or angry with each other? Do you argue… or have you just stopped talking to each other? Does talking about it only make it worse? Retrouvaille (pronounced retro-vi with a long i) helps couples through difficult times in their marriages. This program has helped 10’s of 1000’s of couples experiencing difficulties in their marriage. For more information or to register for an upcoming weekend program, call 513-486-6222 or visit the web site at www.HelpOurMarriage.com
  • Beloved – Beloved is a video series offered through FORMED from the Augustine Institute that is excellent for couples seeking to enrich their marriage. It beautifully presents the “Mystery and Meaning of Marriage” in 6 videos for part 1 and then the more practical “Living Marriage” in 6 videos for part 2. It is completely faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church and draws from the rich deposit of the faith and couples’ personal experiences to better understand and live the Sacrament of Marriage. It can be an effective tool for evangelization and ongoing conversion.
  • Alpha Marriage – Alpha Marriage is not a Catholic program, but has been used in a Catholic context successfully to evangelize couples disconnected from Christ and His Church. The program was developed by evangelical Anglicans in Britain and has been used by various Christian affiliations throughout many countries. It is intentionally generic theologically, drawing from scriptural and universal principles to help couples develop healthier marital relationships. It uses a series of videos interspersed with time for discussion. The primary focus of Alpha is to create a welcoming atmosphere, combined with engaging and enriching material, to more effectively build relationships and evangelize.
  • Worldwide Marriage Encounter – The Marriage Encounter experience is a skill-building enrichment program where together, you, as husband and wife, learn how to be the best couple you can be. Over a weekend or in seven three-hour sessions, the Marriage Encounter experience will give you the tools to remain strong as a couple and be a united force to provide a stable and loving environment for your children. As you become empty-nesters, you can use the same tools to continue growing and thriving in your relationship, living a lifetime love.
  • Springs in the Desert – We are honored to accompany you in your struggle with infertility and loss. Together as a community, we share in the hope that God is transforming our suffering into fruitfulness.
  • Building a Eucharistic Marriage – Building a Eucharistic Marriage is a 7-part online video series that connects 7 areas for therapeutically strengthening your marriage with 7 areas of deepening your relationship with Christ through the Eucharist. There are options for couples who want to purchase an individual copy for home use or for parishes who would like to purchase a license for running the video series at their parish. The Parish License comes with a leaders’ guide, unlimited participant guides, as well as advertising options and participant discounts on their own copy of the program.

Church Documents

Wedding Anniversary

Are you celebrating a significant wedding anniversary in 2024?
25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, or 75 years…

Request an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis
Note: For Apostolic Blessings there is a fee for postage and a donation to Papal Charities

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Request a certificate from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
For 2024, you may complete the form linked above.

Please note anniversary certificates will be mailed to you once a month from January 2024 through March 2024. For requests from March 1, 2024 through June 15, 2024, anniversary certificates will be mailed to your parish in late June. If you have any questions please feel free to contact our office at cne@catholicaoc.org.

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Married couples celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2024 are invited to attend one of the following Golden Anniversary masses:

  • Saturday, September 7 at 4:00p.m. at St. John the Baptist, Tipp City
    • Celebrant: Rev. Brian Phelps
  • Sunday, September 8 at 11:00 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, Cincinnati
    • Celebrant: Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Registration is required to attend one of the Golden Jubilee Wedding Masses. You may register online by completing the anniversary certificate request form here. If you have any questions about the Golden Jubilee Anniversary Mass, please contact our office at cne@catholicaoc.org.

Family Support Services

Here is a list of local Catholic mental health providers who can help address a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, grief, marriage/couples counseling, youth and adolescent counseling, and pornography addiction.

Connected Through Christ

Connected Through Christ is a group for parents of children that suffer from gender dysphoria. Parents meet to share and discuss experiences regarding our children who say that they are transgender. The group is intended for parents to support each other through challenging times and to pray together.  The core values of Connected Through Christ are based on a Christian understanding of male and female as articulated in Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Meetings are held twice a month at a Cincinnati east side parish. Email cincyctc@yahoo.com if you are interested in joining the group.

Tribunal Process for a Decree of Nullity

A decree of nullity (commonly referred to as an annulment) is a declaration by a Church Tribunal, which is a Catholic Church court, that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union. For more information about the Tribunal Process for a Decree of Nullity, please visit the AOC Tribunal website and the USCCB website.

Divorced Catholic

Our mission is to help get you started– and keep you going– on the path to recovery, rebuilding, and renewal from divorce by providing you with information, resources, and encouragement.

This website approaches divorce healing through a 100% Catholic lens with divorce support programs, workshops, books and daily inspirations.

Surviving Divorce: Hope & Healing for the Catholic Family

There’s no such thing as “Catholic divorce” but the bad news is Catholics do civilly divorce. We’re here to help, and to encourage healing through the Sacraments where you’ll personally encounter Christ—with all His love and tender mercies. And that’s the REALLY good news.

Surviving Divorce: Cincinnati Eastside Region: To register or to find out more please contact skb_steph@yahoo.com or 513-331-0358.  Click here for the flyer.

Divorce Care

Divorce Care is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. Don’t go through separation or divorce alone.

Welcoming Divorced and Separated Catholics

“We can and must do better for all our marginalized Catholics.”  This article focuses on debunking incorrect theology regarding Catholicism and divorce. 

Supporting Divorced Catholics

At a time when divorce has become an everyday occurrence in society, parish leaders may feel at a loss as to how to address the overwhelming needs of the many divorced Catholics in their communities. With the wide range of emotions, questions, and dilemmas these men and women go through, how can they be effectively supported with truth and compassion? This webinar offers practical tools that can help parish leaders reach and serve this group within the Church.

For a book that addresses this topic, check out: The Catholic Guide to Dating After Divorce


The Archdiocese of Cincinnati offers Courage. Beginning in 1980, the late Fr. John Harvey, OSFS, began a unique ministry and outreach within the larger Catholic context. With Cardinal Terrance Cooke’s (then Archbishop of New York City), Fr. Harvey recognized the need to reach out and assist Catholics who experience same sex attraction to be active and engaged Catholics. With this ministry, Courage, International, was formed and has continued to grow across the United States and is now nearing final canonical approval as an apostolate within the Catholic Church. Built in the model of the Twelve Steps, Courage seeks to provide fellowship and support for participants centered around the Five Goals of Courage: Chastity, Prayer and Dedication, Fellowship, Support, and Good Example/Role Model. To contact Courage in Cincinnati, email  courage@catholicaoc.org or Dayton at couragenorth@catholicaoc.org.


The Archdiocese of Cincinnati also offers EnCourage. EnCourage members are parents, spouses, siblings, and friends of people who identify as LGBTQ. They are looking for help to keep the faith and keep their family bonds intact. EnCourage members work together to understand the experiences of their loved ones, and to respond to them with compassion. They know that it is possible to express love for someone even if we can’t support all of their choices or actions. They find spiritual guidance to grow in their relationship with Christ, and community support from other members that helps them remember that they are not alone on this journey. To contact EnCourage in Cincinnati, email encourage@catholicaoc.org or Dayton at couragenorth@catholicaoc.org. For more information about Courage and EnCourage, please visit https://couragerc.org/about/.