Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation

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St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5, verses 23-33, taken in its entirety and properly interpreted, contains a beautiful explanation of marriage, a “great mystery.” God sees how a husband and wife give their lives for each other just as Christ gave his life for us. Knowing the depth of love between husband and wife, God deems it a sign of Christ’s love for his bride, the Church.



Marriage Preparation

Only the bride and groom can consent to give their lives to each other faithfully and forever. The bride and groom speak the marriage vows and confer the Sacrament of Marriage on one another. A decision to enter marriage is sacred, permanent, and indissoluble and requires careful preparation

If you are seriously thinking about marriage or are engaged, know that Christ and the Church are with you, yet you alone are responsible for understanding what marriage vows entail and assessing whether you will be able to live them. We rejoice that you want a Christian marriage and come to your parish and diocese for assistance. We want to help you prepare not only for your wedding day but for a lifetime of love together.

Even if you are not yet engaged but are seriously contemplating marriage, it is not too soon to talk with a priest about the important step you are considering.

As soon as you start planning marriage, make an appointment to visit with your parish priest.

A year before your anticipated wedding will give you adequate time; nine months is the minimum time to allow. Be sure to schedule an appointment before making any wedding arrangements.

Your questions about Catholic marriage preparation may be answered at

During preparation for marriage in the Diocese of Scranton you can expect to:

  1. Meet with a parish priest or his delegate (a deacon or pastoral staff member) to learn about guidelines and procedures, begin the prenuptial inquiry that gathers information needed for Church records, and tentatively set a church wedding date.
  2. Fill out a premarital assessment instrument. This inventory will help you explore your relationship, think about what each of you is bringing to marriage, and become more aware of your strengths and challenges. The assessment instrument enables marriage preparation to fit your needs.
  3. Attend the enrichment program the priest specifies. It may include a Pre-Cana Conference, sessions with a mentor couple, and/or a Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekend.
  4. Obtain Natural Family Planning (NFP) instruction.
  5. Meet again with the priest or deacon to follow up on the enrichment program and sign Church forms.
  6. Plan your wedding liturgy with the assistance of a priest, deacon, or liturgist.
  7. Use the final months before your wedding for intense spiritual preparation through prayer and the sacraments.

Pre-marriage enrichment programs and processes

Check with the priest, deacon, or pastoral staff person assisting you with marriage preparation before registering for an enrichment program to be sure it is right for you. You are advised to register early and to choose a session scheduled at least six to nine months before your anticipated wedding date.

Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekend

Engaged Encounter is an intense weekend offering you the time and opportunity to examine and deepen your relationship with each other and with God. Through writing and sharing exercises, each couple explores many aspects of their relationship. You will consider self-awareness, unity, careers, children, the sacrament, family of origin, decisions, and more. In addition to many private sharing sessions, you will be given time to interact with others. You can read what couples have said about Engaged Encounter, check schedules in other dioceses, and view a video at

Engaged Encounter is excellent marriage preparation that satisfies diocesan requirements for the formation phase. When it comes to marriage preparation, it is true that you get what you pay for, in both time and money. Engaged Encounter is for couples who are preparing for lifelong marriage, not just a wedding day, and it receives rave reviews from engaged couples.

Held at Fatima Renewal Center in Dalton, an Engaged Encounter weekend enables you and your beloved to focus on your upcoming marriage in the quiet and beauty of the countryside about ten miles northwest of Scranton. The $225 registration fee includes meals and lodging for you and your fiancé. You may pay in full when you resister, or send a $75 deposit to secure your registration and pay the balance at least one week prior to the Engaged Encounter weekend.

For more information about Engaged Encounter, call: Office for Parish Life (207-2213)

Diocesan Pre-Cana Conferences

This conference can help you continue your discernment about God’s call to marriage, consider what marriage requires, take a new look at your relationship, see the Catholic vision for marriage, grow in faith, and learn some skills known to enhance success and happiness in marriage.

The seven and one-half hour program is based on a theology of the body taught by Pope John Paul II and includes:

  • Couple Prayer
  • FOCCUS administration
  • Speaker-Listener Instruction and Practice
  • God’s Plan for Marriage “In the Beginning”
  • Christ Restores God’s Plan for Marriage
  • What Are You Saying “I Do” To?
  • The Joy of Sexual Honesty Before Marriage
  • The Joy of Sexual Honesty Within Marriage
  • The Practical Benefits of Natural Family Planning
  • Opportunity to talk one-on-one with team couples

In addition, couples attending the Pre-Cana program will receive lunch, program workbooks, and Christopher West’s Good News About Sex and Marriage.