You start with taking an assessment called the FOCCUS Assessment, it is the groundwork upon which all marriage preparation is based. Contact Sonia Moran at (972) 596-5505 ext. 4221 for wedding that will occur here at SEAS or Cecilia Jones at (972) 596-5505 ext. 4222 for weddings that will occur anywhere else in the world. They will gather initial information about you to get you in our marriage program and set up the FOCCUS Assessment which you will take online. The cost for the assessment is $25 per couple and you pay FOCCUS Inc. directly, the first one to sign on pays the fee. You will then need to meet with Cecilia Jones in our Family Life Office to discuss marriage; sacrament verses covenant, impediments, documentation, budgeting classes and communication series. Expect this initial meeting to last 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
If either party as been married previously, whether in the Catholic Church, by a Justice of the Peace, or in another faith an annulment must first be obtained; even for a non-Catholic party. Please contact Cecilia Jones at ext. 4222 to discuss annulments.
There are two ways of completing your pre-Cana classes, either one will fulfill those requirements and the choice is yours-you need only complete one of these; not both.
The first is a Sponsor Couple Program. In that program you meet with one of our volunteer married couples at least 4 times, no more frequently than once a week. They will go over the FOCCUS with you; it is very specific to your relationship because it’s all about your answers. There is no fee for this program. You will be given a certificate of completion and we will need a copy of that as part of your marriage documentation; you may keep the original.
The second is the Engaged Encounter Weekend. The weekends are offered through the Diocese of Dallas, please visit the Diocese’s website for dates and times www.cathdal.org under the Marriage Ministries Link and then to Engaged Encounter Weekend. For this program you stay at the Catholic Formation Center all day Saturday, over Saturday night and half of a Sunday. It is a very general overview of marriage and there is a $225.00 fee. You will be given a certificate of completion and we will need a copy of that as part of your marriage documentation; you may keep the original.
In addition to the marriage programs above you will also take a Budgeting Class. It is a 2 part series meeting on the 1st and 2nd Friday of every month. You will register for this class when you meet with Ms. Jones. It is designed to help you understand the need for total honesty and disclosure in your relationship especially to do with assets and debts, learn to write a budget, the purpose of a budget and some money saving suggestions.
To help couples in communication skills and conflict resolution you will take the (LYS) Living Your Strengths Assessment and visit with a LYS Coach. You visit with the LYS Coach individually and then as a couple. The purpose is to help you identify communication styles and begin to understand how you naturally think, feel and behave. If you know yourself well and the way in which your future partner naturally processes information you will have less conflict in your relationship. You will be given a book with one (1) access code in the back and instructions on how to purchase the second code directly from Strengthsfinder.com The cost of the book is $15 and the second code is $9.99. You will be assigned to a LYS coach after you have taken the LYS Assessment and your meeting with Ms. Jones.
If you are marrying here at SEAS with one of our Priests you will complete your final marriage questionnaire and request for any necessary dispensations with the Priest that is marrying you. Sonia Moran is the assistant to all of our Priests and you schedule appointments with her. She is also responsible for gathering your required marriage documentation from you and submitting it to the Tribunal as necessary.
If you are marrying anywhere else in the world or having a visiting Priest then you will meet with Ms. Jones to complete the prenuptial questionnaire and gathering of required documentation. Frequently this meeting is combined with your initial visit with her but not always.
In addition to the classes listed above there are several documents that are needed to complete your marriage documentation.
1) Catholics must provide a currently dated baptismal certificate; this is issued six (6) months before the scheduled wedding day. Please call or write to your church of baptism – they will provide it. Your original baptismal certificate will NOT work; you must obtain a current copy WITH notations.
What that means is; in the Catholic Church the Church you were baptized in becomes the Church where all your sacraments are recorded, REGARDLESS where you received the other sacraments. The Church where you received additional sacraments is required to write to your baptismal Church and notify them that you have received another sacrament. The baptismal Church then records that information in the baptismal registry and when you order a current baptismal certificate all other sacraments should be listed. The baptismal Church will then make a “notation” on the back of the current baptismal certificate of those additional sacraments. Please be aware the Holy Communion was not recorded until within the last 8 years so you will probably not have that notation. We are specifically looking for Confirmation, prior marriages and Holy Orders.
2) Non-Catholics must provide a copy of their original baptismal certificate or a letter from their Church indicating they are baptized. Non-baptized persons need only advise they are not baptized.
3) An “Affidavit of Freedom” from each of you, this will be sent to you by email but also provided to you by hard copy when you meet with Ms. Jones. This is NOT a form that you complete. It is completed by A PARENT, AN OLDER SIBLING OR SOMEONE WHO HAS KNOWN YOU SINCE YOU WERE 16 YEARS OLD. They need to complete the form in front of a witness such as a priest, deacon, minister of another faith, layperson in the church or a notary public.
4) Those with previous marriages (Catholic or Non-Catholic) must provide annulment documents, death certificates or other information as necessary. Please ask for more information if you are unsure of your situation by contacting Cecilia Jones at ext. 4222.
5) Certificate of Completion from whichever form of marriage preparation you chose. (Sponsor Couple or Engaged Encounter Weekend)
Once you have completed either the Sponsor Couple Program or the Engaged Encounter Weekend you will need to meet either with the priest here at SEAS that you have asked to marry you. If you are marrying anywhere else in the world or using a visiting priest you will meet with Cecilia Jones to complete the final documentation and obtain the necessary signatures to finalize your marriage preparation. Do NOT wait until the month before your wedding. The priest who is preparing you for the sacrament of marriage will want to meet with you at least two or three times before your wedding day.
For weddings occurring elsewhere your marriage preparation and completed documentation needs to be at the Church of marriage 4-6 weeks before your wedding date. If you are marrying outside of the Dallas Diocese your prenuptial documentation must go through our Chancellor's office to the Chancellor of the Diocese in which you plan to marry. Please plan accordingly; contact Cecilia Jones at ext. 4222 if you have any questions.
Sonia Moran keeps the priests' calendars; please contact her at ext. 4221 to schedule that appointment. Contact Cecilia Jones directly at ext. 4222 if you are marrying outside of SEAS.