Washington D.C., Oct 10, 2004 / 22:00 pm
Lifelong support for marriage is a key ministry for the Church in the United States, says a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Marriage and Family Life Committee.
The survey looked at the efforts of 130 of the nation's 195 dioceses and eparchies in 2003 with regards to marriage preparation, post-marriage enrichment and assistance for troubled marriages. It also included the data from three national groups: Catholic Engaged Encounter, Worldwide Marriage Encounter and Retrouvaille.
The survey found that most dioceses require marriage-preparation courses. Only two of the dioceses surveyed did not require formal marriage preparation. These programs vary in each diocese and may range from one to 12 sessions. The average number of hours a couple spends in a program is 12.
While 177,825 couples were married in those 130 dioceses in 2003, 144,054 couples took part in a marriage-preparation program that same year. However, the U.S. bishops speculate that the number of couples attending marriage-preparation programs is much higher, since the survey did not include parish-based programs.