Thank you for considering this ministry in your parish.
This is a parish-based marriage enrichment ministry that is easy to start and maintain, and can be very effective in strengthening your parishioners’:
- Family life,
- And even their connection to your parish!
Thank you for being a pastor who is considering offering a ministry geared specifically for married couples. Many married couples today are looking for something to do strengthen their marriage. Most often, couples end up turning to seminars, programs, resources, or retreats outside of the parish. This ministry is something you can start today (with little effort and work) to be able to offer your married couples something within the parish community that strengthens their faith, helps them grow closer together as a couple, and increases a sense of belonging within your parish community.
In addition to our 7 STEPS TO START A FIAT COUPLES GROUP IN YOUR PARISH (written primarily for a lay person desiring to begin the ministry), we wanted to offer you, the pastor, some additional thoughts as you consider supporting this ministry in your parish.
1. We ask groups to meet only with your permission.
- We want every group to be connected to a parish and to operate with their pastor’s permission. We believe it is important for couples to see their participation in this group as a ministry of the parish community.
- Even though a group needs your approval, it requires little else of your time and energy (which we know is in demand in so many other ways). It also requires little of any lay leaders. The ministry is simply small group faith-sharing for couples. It is peer accompaniment at its best.
- All you really need to do is give the ministry a green light. Once you give the approval, it can run on its own. But, we do hope you will also consider supporting it in the ways listed below–but this is not required.
2. Please consider creating a plan to begin the ministry or encourage new groups to begin.
- If you are interested to initiate a new group: Invite 4-8 couples to a first gathering with you (either at the parish, rectory, or at one of the couple’s homes) so that they can experience it and then continue on their own afterward.
- If you have groups meeting already: Ask existing groups to invite new couples to periodically attend their meetings so they can see what it is and begin new groups. Follow-up to see if new groups have started and if they have any questions.
- To kick-off the ministry in your parish with an open-invitation pilot: Hold a large gathering at the parish to explain the ministry and allow couples to experience it in a large setting. You could introduce the idea, invite couples to sit in small groups (arrange tables to accommodate 4-8 couples), give them time to experience the prayer portion in the small groups (1- 1/2 hrs), and then end with a catered meal (still seated in the small groups). Couples who enjoyed the evening could then be invited to continue with other couples. After this one evening, you will have started an effective, self- sustaining marriage enrichment ministry in your parish.
- Promote the ministry in the parish bulletin and/or on your website.
- Periodically include information about the ministry in parish announcements after mass.
- Invite members to promote the ministry at parish ministry fairs.
3. Please support the Fiat Couples Groups in your parish.
- Pray for the groups and their members, personally or at masses.
- Designate a staff member or volunteer to serve as the main liaison, contact, or coordinator of the ministry.
- Let the group know your expectations. For example, do you expect them to check in with you (or a designated staff member) about how they are doing? Do you expect them to check in annually, quarterly, monthly? How do you want them to check-in? Do you have hopes for the growth of the ministry? Etc.
- Keep a contact list for leaders and members with their email addresses and periodically email them: a word of encouragement; a link to article you think may like to read; information about an event being held at the parish that they may be interested to attend, etc. Or, make sure they are included in other general parish correspondence (if you have a ministry e-newsletter, parishioner e-newsletter, etc.).
- Invite members together for periodic meetings at the parish.
- Invite members to serve in other ministries at the parish, particularly other marriage ministries.
4. If possible, please consider attending one of the gatherings.
- Since this is a parish-based ministry, pastors and parochial vicars have a standing invitation to attend any gathering. Attending, even just once, affirms and confirms that this is a parish-based ministry.
- We know you have many demands on your time, but attending (even just once) supports the group(s) and at the same time it allows you to have a better sense of what happens at a gathering.
- In addition, we have heard from priests that attending a gathering has been a gift and grace for them as well. We often hear that it is inspiring and consoling for pastors and priests to be among faith-filled couples, to pray with them in a different setting, and to enjoy good Christian fellowship.
- Please know that you have a standing invitation to attend any of your parish’s groups if ever, and whenever, possible.
5. Please feel free to call us or email us with any questions.
You can reach us through our CONTACT US page or via our contact information at the bottom of this page. Call us today with any questions. Please know we are praying for you as you consider offering this ministry in your parish.
Thank you for all you do and for considering this ministry in your parish.
We pray it is a blessing in many couple’s lives and for your parish!