By: Cathy Price Diocesan Marriage Prep Coordinator
My husband Michael and I have been involved with marriage preparation for well over ten years. It all began when Father Thomas Weise asked us to do this important ministry, and of course we said yes. We have enjoyed meeting and working with couples and sharing our marriage experience through the years.
The big question though was where do you start? How do you learn to do this? How long does it take? How much of ourselves will we need to give? It was not as much as it seemed.
For some years now the diocese has been using the FOCCUS program. The Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study (FOCCUS) is a national program that was developed in 1985 by marriage and family therapists who consulted with persons across the field of marriage preparation. It is designed to meet the need for a user friendly inventory that is strong on family of origin issues and at the same time addresses contemporary issues.
When Michael and I became involved in this program we participated in a training session with Sister Mary Ann Nelson, OP and became FOCCUS facilitators. Since that training we have worked with a variety of couples and enjoyed our involvement with them. Through the years we have made close friends with some couples and have enjoyed new babies coming into the parish. We have felt like surrogate grandparents!
After Sister Mary Ann left Juneau there had been no one from the diocese to coordinate this program. Last year I needed some new supplies so I decided to go to the FOCCUS website to order them. I discovered that we had been using the 2000 edition of FOCCUS and that there was a new fourth edition available. The new program is computerized and facilitator couples that had the prior training are eligible to receive the new Facilitator manual and take the refresher training on line. I volunteered to coordinate the FOCCUS program throughout the diocese so that all our facilitators would be up to date with the new program.
We found the new FOCCUS to be much nicer for the couples. The inventory questionnaire is online and once the facilitators register the couple they can take the inventory questionnaire online. The completed inventory is then available for the facilitators to print out and use. The joy of working with the couples can then begin as the facilitators take them through all aspects of married life.
The diocese is in need of more facilitators for our marriage prep program. Please consider volunteering. It’s very rewarding and very enjoyable. If you are interested and think you are called to this ministry contact your pastor. Once your pastor has approved, please contact Cathy Price at 907-723-7721 or I will help you get started on the FOCCUS website to register and become certified FOCCUS facilitators.