Getting Married

Marriage Preparation: Beginning your life together
Pictures of holding hands

The Catholic Church’s hope for engaged couples is a strong, Christian marriage. Our preparation programs are designed specifically to help couples grow in their understanding of marriage as a sacrament, a sacrifice and a lifelong commitment. True joy in a Christian marriage is found with the union of husband, wife, and God.

Click the image below for a full-sized, printable PDF summary of the five steps to the marriage preparation process. 

  1. Contact your parish and make an appointment with the pastor before selecting your wedding date. Following a conversation about your decision to marry, there will be some important documents to complete and sign.
  2. Complete the FOCCUS inventory. Under the direction of a trained facilitator (priest, deacon, or married mentor couple), you and your fiancee will complete a questionnaire used to help you think about the similarities and differences you will bring to your marriage. FOCCUS is a tool, not a test, designed to encourage you to journey deeper into the place where insights are found. Visit for more information.
  3. Select and attend a marriage preparation retreat from the schedule where useful tools and practical wisdom lead to building a strong marriage relationship. Choose from the following:
Engagement Encounter: A weekend retreat experience that allows couples the time needed to give attention to their decisionEngagement Encounter logo to marry:
  • time to focus on your love, your relationship and your commitment to marry
  • time away from the details associated with wedding planning, and
  • time to learn how to build a foundation towards a successful life together.
Led by a team of married couples and a priest, EE appeals to persons of all ages and faiths by blending together the practical and spiritual aspects of marriage.
Visit the Engagement Encounter page

nova logoNOVA: A marriage preparation experience designed exclusively for couples who are free to remarry in the Catholic Church. Led by a team of remarried couples and a priest, NOVA covers topics that are unique to remarriage including expectations of marriage, blending families, legal issues and others.
Visit the Nova web page
Precana logo
Pre-Cana: Through a series of presentations and activities on a variety of relevant topics, couples learn about marriage through the stories and instruction provided by a team of married couples and a priest or deacon.  Visit the Precana page

Space is limited; please select and make your reservations at least 6 months before your wedding day.
  1. Learn about Natural Family Planning (NFP). Take some time to learn about the healthful, scientific and spirituality nourishing method of planning or postponing pregnancy. Choose and attend a class together to make this effective method of fertility awareness an integral part of your marriage. NFP classes are offered in various locations throughout the diocese. Visit the Diocese of Erie Chastity page for more information.
  2. Plan your wedding liturgy with your priest or deacon. By planning your wedding ceremony together, you help to make your wedding day as beautiful and memorable as it should be. Your choice of readings, music and prayers will symbolize the commitment you are making, and give witness to the sacrament of marriage.
Our warmest congratulations and best wishes to both of you as you embark on this new chapter of your lives. May God bless you during this special time of preparation.

Kate Wilson, Director
Family Life Office
429 E. Grandview Blvd.
P.O. Box 10397
Erie, PA 16514-0397
Phone (814) 824-1261 • 800-374-3723
Fax (814) 824-1264