From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Pastoral Policy for Marriage Preparation in the Catholic Diocese of Spokane

the Diocese of Spokane

(From the Jan. 18, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

The following requirements and recommendations are to be observed in providing marriage preparation for couples requesting marriage in the Diocese of Spokane:

1. Parishes must insure that engaged couples are provided with four months of formal marriage preparation.
2. The Premarital Inventory (PMI) is highly recommended and encouraged as a tool for facilitating a more effective preparation for marriage.
3. An engaged couple’s wedding date is only to be set after the priest or deacon who is helping them to prepare for marriage is satisfied that the couple is free to marry and committed to participating actively in a formal marriage preparation process.
4. In addition to the instruction and guidance provided by the priest or deacon helping the engaged couple to prepare for marriage, personal interaction with experienced married couples of mature faith is highly recommended. This may be accomplished through the diocesan Marriage Preparation Weekend, by means of a parish or inter-parish program, or both.
5. In cases involving one or both partners who will be under the age of 20 at the time of the proposed wedding date, the couple must be interviewed by a Catholic Family Service counselor or other diocese-approved counselor. This phase of the marriage preparation process for such couples will normally consist of six hours of counseling and evaluation, though the number of hours may vary depending upon the individual couple. If possible, the priest or deacon is encouraged to meet with the parents of the couple before making a decision as to whether or not a given couple’s marriage can be witnessed by the church in good faith.
6. Premarital pregnancy — once considered an imperative reason for rushing into a marriage — in today’s world with its alarming rate of divorce among marriages of this kind ought to be considered an equally grave reason for not marrying or hurrying the preparation process. The following procedures are strongly recommended:

  • a. If the engaged couple made the decision to marry prior to the pregnancy, and both have attained their 20th birthdays, plans may be made for the usual marriage preparation process (including No. 3 above).
  • b. If the couple had not made the decision to marry prior to the pregnancy, or if either party has not attained his or her 20th birthday, pre-marriage counseling and evaluation (following No. 5 above) should be obtained before deciding whether or not to continue with the normal marriage preparation process.
  • c. Premarital pregnancy of itself should constitute no exception to the need for adequate marriage preparation prior to the wedding.
7. In cases involving one partner who is not a Catholic, it is required that the priest or deacon helping the couple to prepare for marriage do all he can to help the couple realistically confront the unique issues which must be dealt with by marriage partners who do not share the same religious tradition. This should also include a basic presentation of the Catholic faith, the Catholic understanding of the sacrament of Matrimony, and the practical meaning of daily Christian living.

Diocesan Marriage Preparation Weekends

For many years, the Diocese of Spokane has sponsored a series of marriage preparation weekends, described as a time for couples “to be together to enjoy one another’s company, meet other engaged couples, and share topics vital” to future married happiness. “It is not a retreat in the sense of strict time of silence or an extremely rigid schedule.”

The weekends are scheduled throughout the year. Reservations are strongly suggested, especially since, traditionally, the spring and summer weekends tend to fill early.

The cost of a weekend is $160 per couple to cover room, board and materials. An $80 non-refundable deposit is required with the reservation. The balance of the cost of the weekend is paid upon arrival.

Weekends are held variously at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center and Bozarth Retreat Center. Arrival time is 6:30 p.m. Friday; departure is noon on Sunday.

For more information, call 358-7316 or 456-7456.

Marriage Preparation weekends — 2001

  • March 16-18, Immaculate Heart Retreat Center
  • April 27-29, Bozarth Retreat Center
  • May 18-20, Bozarth Retreat Center
  • June 15-17, Immaculate Heart Retreat Center


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