Mission-Focused Marriage Preparation

Simple. Local. Effective.

What is mission-focused marriage preparation?

Strong marriages and families are essential to our most important work of evangelization and the vitality of this Church that Christ has entrusted to us.

Archbishop Lori

What steps should our parish/pastorate take to have mission-focused marriage preparation?

Step 1: Choose a Marriage Preparation Program

Sponsor Couple Program

Witness to Love

A novel mentor couple program that focuses on building virtues for relationships and is rooted in attachment theory.

Video-Based Pre-Cana Programs


Unveiled was developed by the Diocese of Richmond and SpiritJuice productions.  Features Mark Hart, Dr. John Grabowski, Andrew and Terri Lyke, and numerous other married couples.

Joined by Grace

Joined by Grace is an Ave Maria Press product that was authored by longtime marriage and family ministers, John and Teri Bosio.  It can be used in multiple formats including, small group, pre-Cana retreat, and sponsor couple.  The program focuses on living marriage well by providing formation on the seven sacraments.

Better Together

Better Together was created by Dynamic Catholic and features Allen Hunt, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Sarah Swafford and many others. It can be used in multiple formats including, small group, pre-Cana retreat, and sponsor couple.  Dynamic Catholic also features their own free inventory.

Joy-Filled Marriage

Joy-Filled Marriage is a very recent update to the previous Ascension Press program.  The new program provides excellent speakers with a clear presentation of the Church’s teaching on marriage, through the lens of the Theology of the Body.

Step 2: Choose a Marriage Preparation Inventory

The Archdiocese of Baltimore requires that all couples preparing for marriage complete a marriage preparation inventory.  This inventory is used by a priest, deacon, or qualified lay person to discuss marital skills and relationship dynamics.

Each parish/pastorate should have at least one trained facilitator.  These trainings can be done online or in-person and gives the parish access to discounted costs on inventories and immediate access to couple’s results.

All Inventories are available in English and Spanish.


Foundations Applied Conversation & Education Tool (FACET) is a paper-based inventory that provides objective insight into a couples relationship and includes a narrative section that allows couples to respond to open-ended questions.  FACET is also very effective for Spanish-language communities because it is paper-based.  If the parish has a local trained facilitator, this instrument costs $15 per couple.


Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding & Study (FOCCUS) is the most widely used Catholic preparation inventory that was developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha.  FOCCUS is web-based, which provides for immediate results.  If the parish has a local trained facilitator, this instrument costs $20 per couple.


Prepare-Enrich is the most widely used of these inventories but not Catholic in its origins.  However, there is a Catholic version of the inventory.  It is the most robust and dynamic inventory, including applications for marriage enrichment, second marriages, convalidations, more mature couples, and numerous other specific circumstances.  If the parish has a local trained facilitator, this instrument costs $26 per couple.

Step 3: Assemble the Parish Marriage Packet

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will no longer provide marriage packets for pre-Cana or sponsor couple programs.  Parishes/pastorates can choose from the materials below and use their own materials to determine what items should be provided for their couples preparing for marriage.  The Office of Marriage and Family Life has curated classic and contemporary materials but if you are aware of other materials that should be included please contact us.


Perspectives on Marriage (English and Spanish)

Prepare-Enrich Workbook

The Five Love Languages

Domestic Violence

English and Spanish

Healthy Relationship

Her and Him

Need Help Fliers

Her and Him


Liturgy Planning

Together for Life (English and Spanish)

NFP Resources

USCCB’s Introduction to Natural Family Planning (English and Spanish)

Archdiocesan Pamphlet (Contact Office for printed copies )


Group Session


English and Spanish

Step 4: Send Couples on Retreat

The Office of Marriage and Family Life collaborates with parishes to host regional retreats for ALL dating, married, and engaged couples.  These retreats are called GIVEN: Unveiling the Mystery of Marriage and can supplement parish/pastorate-based marriage preparation with time to pray as a couple, connect with other couples, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and learn more about the Sacrament of Marriage.

Such a great retreat, glad to be here–thank you!


It is a great balance! I loved it.


This was great day!  Thank you.  We needed to re-connect.

GIVEN Attendees

Step 5: Learn About Local NFP Resources

Many individual parishes/pastorates are unable to sustain a Natural Family Planing instructor but there are numerous instructors in each region in the Archdiocese.  There are also resources on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s NFP webpage (like these videos) to help engaged couples learn more about NFP and which method they want to learn more about during their engagement.

Does the Archdiocese Approve of Online Preparation?

The Archdiocese encourages parishes/pastorates to prepare couples locally through sponsor couple programs or pre-Cana seminars.  However, often circumstances arise that make these methods unfeasible, including, military couples, long-distance relationship, challenging schedules, etc.

Engaged couples should always consult with their wedding officiant prior to registering for online preparation.

The programs that the Archdiocese of Baltimore recommends are:

Agape Catholic Marriage Preparation

Fee: $194 – $245 – Language: English, Spanish, French

Joy-Filled Marriage – Ascension Press

Fee: $47.95 – Language: English and Spanish

Living Our Faith in Love

Fee: $195 – Languages: English, Captioning in English and Spanish

Smart Loving

Fee: $68 – $273 – Languages: English


Fee: $190 – Languages: English

Still having trouble choosing which process makes sense for your parish/pastorate?



The Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Institute for Evangelization is a new model for engagement with parishes seeking to realize their evangelizing mission more fully.
The Institute is composed of four offices that collaborate closely to ensure that support is never “one-size fits all” but can adapt to the changing needs of each parish community.