Renewing Parishes by Renewing Marriages
The Covenant of Love Ministry evangelizes parishioners while ministering to marriages.
"We in the Church have an obligation to protect the marriages we now have, and give them the tools they need to stay alive. I believe that if you want to get your marriages on fire, Covenant of Love will help you do it in your parish."
Very Reverend Andrew Kimberling, V.F.
Dean and Pastor of St Thomas More Church in Centennial, CO.
The need it meets
Married persons are now a minority in the population, and many marriages today are struggling. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reported that most married couples desire more marriage enrichment from the parish or diocese, such as adult faith formation classes, support groups, retreats, and mentoring for troubled marriages. The Covenant of Love Marriage Ministry is a response to this need.
Where it came from
Covenant of Love is a program created by The Alexander House, a non-profit lay apostolate founded by a married couple, Greg and Julie Alexander.
The Alexander House's mission is to work with parents, churches, schools, higher education, industry and community groups to provide programs, workshops, seminars, retreats and resources to increase the understanding of God's plan for the Sacrament of Marriage and to reverse the decline of marriage in our society.
It is faithful to the Holy Father and to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
How it works
Covenant of Love (COL) offers two outreach programs for specific needs.
"The Marriage Group" is a proactive resource to help relatively healthy marriages grow in key skills such as communicating, solving problems, handling differences, and prayer. The program comes with a full array of support materials for 12 monthly 2-hour meetings that follow this basic format:
- Opening prayer
- Welcome everyone and introduce new members
- Gospel Reflection
- Presentation (catechetical content provided by COL)
- Faith Sharing & Discussion in Small Groups
Some parishes have also begun "Marriage Disciples," a mentoring program for troubled marriages. More specific information about this program will be posted in an upcoming Best Practice.
COL is active in 24 parishes in the US and Canada. Click here (http://covenantoflove.org/welcome/video-testimonies) for video testimonies of couples and pastors.
- At St Thomas More parish in Centennial, CO, a total of 40 couples are participating in the COL Marriage Group. Fr Andrew Kimberling said the program has given his parish a new core of lay leaders. Couples from the COL program will soon be spearheading Phil Lenahan's "7 Steps to Financial Freedom" and the Covenant of Love "Marriage Disciples."
- Increased prayer and Mass attendance. Daily Mass attendance rose during Lent.
- Stewardship. The program has helped sustain stewardship involvement in the parish.
- Community. Parishioners who attend the program feel more connected to each other and to their parish.
- Saved and strengthened marriages.
- Effective evangelization.
- A lead couple to run the program if there is no paid staff. COL provides tools to help advertise, evaluate, and select a volunteer couple to lead the ministry.
- A core team. The core group will help plan and implement the various COL programs in the parish.
- Materials. With a COL subscription, a member parish will receive:
- An informational binder to start the ministry.
- An annual packet of information with educational resources.
- Ongoing phone and e-mail support.
- Prayer support through the Alexander House prayer ministry.
- Discounts on products and services.
- Place for meetings: on parish property is best.
How to implement it
For specific guidelines about how to start COL in your parish, visit the web site at www.covenantoflove.org and click on the "Start a Ministry" tab (left side).
According to Father Kimberling, "Once you get the program put together, it will pretty much fly on its own.â€
Very Reverend Andrew Kimberling, V.F. is pastor of
St Thomas More Catholic Church.