Planning a wedding involves so many details — a venue, the dress, and tuxedo, the cake, photography, and food. But the essential part of the day is the promise a man and woman make before God. It’s not something to take lightly. That’s why, here at Our Lady of Hope, Fr. Juan Ramirez and Fr. Paul Ferguson meet with engaged couples over several sessions.
Couples start by taking the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory. At least one session involves reviewing the results with Fr. Paul or Fr. Juan. Finances are one topic that often requires further discussion.
“This inventory reveals some of those hard questions that couples maybe haven’t had the time to discuss,” Fr. Paul says. “I can help them work through them before the wedding.”
Fr. Paul sees this as his role — to open the door to discuss some of those more challenging and more uncomfortable questions. He hopes it leads to further discussion after the couple leaves his office.
Couples should call the parish at least six months before the wedding. This gives time for meeting with one of the priests. Couples should also be sure to book a date at the church before committing to a venue for a specific date. In addition, couples attend a weekend retreat through the diocese. To be married at Our Lady of Hope, just one of the two must be Catholic.
Fr. Paul enjoys journeying with couples on their way to the altar. In the last few meetings, Fr. Paul or Fr. Juan will confirm the reading and music choices, and work through other items to prepare. The day before the wedding, Fr. Paul or Fr. Juan are there to walk through the rehearsal.
“This is always a nice opportunity for me to meet the family if I haven’t already,” Fr. Paul says.
For young couples preparing for marriage, Fr. Paul enjoys seeing the change and growth over six months.
“I want them to get to the altar and be fully ready for the sacrament,” he says. “I want the air to be clear for them and for them to have these difficult things worked through.”
Fr. Paul hopes couples will continue to grow in faith before their wedding and long after. He wants all couples to leave the meetings knowing that God should be at the center of their marriage.
“I am here to help them focus on not just the celebration afterward, but also having Christ at their side through this process and beyond,” Fr. Paul says. “I remind them that they are coming before the altar, saying ‘I do’ in front of God and what that means.”
In the future, Fr. Paul may consider forming a sponsor couple ministry. One such ministry existed in a past parish and Fr. Paul found it to be a great way to introduce couples to a marriage united in Christ.
To inquire about a wedding date and to set up preparation meetings, call the parish office at 812-254-2883.