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Marriage Preparation

Are you engaged and ready to plan your wedding? Start Here

Marriage Preparation

The Office of Family Ministry offers a variety of programs and services to assist in Marriage Preparation.

FOCCUS Premarital Inventory Materials and Training

The FOCCUS Pre-Marital Inventory is an instrument designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. It is not a test nor meant as a predictor of success or failure in marriage. It is a tool to help couples name and work through issues before marriage.

FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study) provides individualized couple feedback on where each partner stands in regard to topic areas important to marriage. The results of the inventory point to issues or areas that may need to be addressed.

Dr. James Healy, director of the Office of Family Ministry, offers training to priests, deacons, and lay couples in administering FOCCUS and in using it to work with engaged couples.  FOCCUS Trainings usually take place at the Blanchette Catholic Center in the spring and fall.  Please call 815-838-5334 if you or someone at your parish is interested in FOCCUS Training, as others may be scheduled throughout the year.

Engaged Encounter

Catholic Engaged Encounter is a weekend program of input, reflection, and dialogue offered at the diocesan level for couples who are preparing to marry. Led by trained married couples and a priest, engaged couples are led through a process of self-discovery, relationship deepening, and spiritual connection. The approximately 300 couples who go through the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend each year give the program high evaluations.

Weekends will be held at the Portiuncula Center for Prayer, 9263 W. St. Francis Rd. in Frankfort. Reservations will be limited to approximately 22 couples per weekend. The website will provide dates and space availability.

The sessions for the 2-day weekends  will begin promptly at 8 a.m. on Saturday and end by 5 p.m. on Sunday. A weekend stay is necessary to maintain the atmosphere generated by the Encounter which frees you from distractions.

2019 Schedule

 March 9-10, April 6-7 & November 9-10  

To register, check the web or see the Registration Brochure.

¿Se Habla Espanol? or call the Office of Hispanic/Ethnic Ministry at 815-221-6246.


Parish Marriage Preparation

All parishes are encouraged to develop their own marriage preparation program, and most parishes have already done so. Dr. James Healy offers training to parishes to help them set up their program, and offers further consultation and enrichment experiences after a parish begins. Follow-up workshops can be scheduled at the parish.  Please call Dr. Healy at 815-838-5334 for more information.

Natural Family Planning

Information, monthly class schedules, reservations, and support for couples who are interested in learning more about Natural Family Planning are available from The Office of Family Ministry at 815-838-5334 or contact us at familyministry@dioceseofjoliet.org.  For classes in English or Spanish in the Joliet/Crest Hill, Kankakee areas and Glendale Heights. Check our Event Calendar for dates and times for English and Spanish classes.


Dr. James Healy, who has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Illinois and over 25 years of experience in family ministry, is available to all staff , both lay and clergy, in the Joliet Diocese regarding marriage and marriage preparation issues.

Special Assessment Program

Couples who will be under the age of 19 when they wish to marry go though a special program to help them assess their readiness for marriage. This involves a pre-marital interview with a Catholic Charities counselor and some time spent with the priest or deacon who would be officiating at the wedding. Both the counselor and the priest or deacon send a confidential evaluation to Dr. James Healy, the director of the Office of Family Ministry, who then, with further consultation with the counselor and the priest or deacon, makes an assessment regarding any special help the couple may need. In some cases, a delay of the wedding may be necessary until a problem has been resolved.

Video and Audio Resources

A variety of materials related to marriage preparation are available on site or for borrowing. Please contact us regarding your particular need.

The Office of Family Ministry wishes to bring a family perspective to parish ministry. We offer consultation with parishes regarding any family issue, and are particularly interested in the formation and maintenance of family ministry teams and commissions.