What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Catholic Married Couples?

What are some of the biggest challenges Catholic married couples are facing today?

That’s what we’re going to discuss as part of our Easter 2024 series, “Rebuild My Church,” and offer us, the Church, the Body of Christ, at least 3 actionable ways to help overcome those challenges in an effort to bring renewal from within.

Welcome, I’m Lisa Martinez, the founder of Little With Great Love, a restoration ministry of storytellers using media to bring hope, healing and restoration in Christ.

I am joined today by Rachel Townsend with the Together in Holiness Formation series through the St. John Paul II Foundation

  1. After their big wedding day, Catholic married couples are usually not being offered continued formation or training in order to build the foundation of their marriage.
    1. Churches are short staffed, pastors have so many things to do they are spread thin, there aren’t enough resources, pastors/deacons doing marriage prep but don’t have something else/program for couples right after their wedding. Some couples don’t receive more formation until their first baptismal class.
      1. Stats are there, 7 year itch, honeymoon phase ends and there are real life challenges/struggles in early years of marriage
      1. Solution: We intentionally designed a marriage enrichment program called the Together in Holiness Formation series to serve couples in their early years of marriage or those with children in the home in order to fill this gap or disparity in the life of our newly married couples. The curriculum and accessibility of the content was designed for spouses to grow together in holiness, and to equip spouses and parents to form their children in the Catholic faith. The goal is to provide support to couples in these early stages so they can create a strong foundation for their marriage.
  2. There are many Catholic married couples today that still lack intentional community and find it challenging to meet other couples at their parish.
    1. Some couples don’t linger after Mass on Sundays or there are no opportunities provided for couples to meet each other (parish events for couples/families, date nights, socials, happy hours, etc.). A lot of couples don’t know each other, they go to the same Mass time/same parish, but don’t have community.
      1. Solution: We created a marriage enrichment program for about

4-6 married couples to gather as a small group once a month throughout the year. Through the Formation series couples get to connect, grow in friendship, and build community to experience the joys and challenges of life together. A parish or diocese that is partnered with us (St. John Paul II Foundation) receives dedicated support from a member of our team to assist with the fruitful implementation of the program, which involves recruiting Host Couples (facilitator couple for the Circle gatherings), creating promotional materials for outreach/marketing, and connecting couples together to create the TH Circles (small groups). The program was designed for couples to experience a peer-to-peer discussion, so couples are paired or connected based on their similar phase of life, years married, amount of kids, etc.

  • There are not many resources/programs for Catholic married couples that offer a robust amount of formation and catechesis.
    • A lot of couples grow up cradle Catholic, receive some basic formation/catechesis in the home, but may have fallen away, and not practicing the faith actively in their marriage or home, so a program like ours makes it accessible for everyday couples to receive the fullness of the Catholic Church’s teachings no matter where they are at in their faith journey, in a very welcoming/warm setting, fun, social, intimacy of the home, and for couples to receive ongoing formation/catechesis and not just a one time or one year experience
    • Solution: We developed 7 years of curriculum (Guidebooks, videos, resources, etc.) so that couples can have a longer opportunity (if desired) to strengthen their marriage/family life and form long lasting relationships with other married couples. The curriculum was inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings, specifically drawing from his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio. In this document, St. John Paul II highlights the family as a domestic church, a community of prayer, a school of virtue, a school of love, a seedbed of vocations, an image of the Trinity, and a believing and evangelizing community. Couples in a TH Circle explore one of these particular themes throughout the course of a year.

Rachel Townsend is a Senior Program Coordinator and Team Leader for the St. John Paul II Foundation where she serves to support the parishes and couples across the country who are sponsoring and participating in the Together in Holiness Formation series. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Texas A&M University and graduated with Honors in Psychology distinction. Prior to joining the St. John Paul II Foundation, she worked as a Career Counselor for Champions School of Real Estate helping students to achieve their career and licensing goals. Over the years, she has volunteered at her parish community as a member of the altar guild and is currently a parishioner of Presentation of the Lord Catholic Church in Montgomery, Texas.

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About Author

Creative, Entrepreneur & Silly-Heart. Christ has called her to bring the broken to His Sacred Heart. Calls Austin home with her mountain-man husband, Mike, who she loves to travel through life with as well as around the world.

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