What does it take to renew marriage? This archdiocese plans to find out

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The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced a new initiative on marriage and family life: a three-year course which will be offered to both the clergy and lay people throughout its parishes.

"There is a serious need to shift our previous approach to marriage and family life which ignores the consequences of poor catechesis and the lack of personal encounter to a more evangelical and relational approach," the archdioceses said in a press release.

The extensive program, titled Remain in My Love, will direct its focus at a different target audience every year for three years. The outreach will begin in May 2017 and will end in December 2019.

The first year will specifically address the staff members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, and will focus on the theme of "renewing our mission in service to married couples and families."

"These gatherings will help us rediscover our shared mission to support, heal, and strengthen the married couples and families who have been entrusted to our care in the local Church of Philadelphia," reads the archdiocesan website.

"As the pastoral arm of his leadership and ministry in the service of all the Archdiocese, a reinvigorated…understanding of marriage and family life becomes a lens through which to encourage the same understanding in our parishes and institutions."

Year two will begin in January 2018, and will cater to the staff of archdiocesan institutions such as parishes or schools. Their theme will focus on "renewing our mission of pastoral care of married couples and families."

"It will be designed as an opportunity for growth and transformation as well as mutual support, encouragement and discussion fueled by study materials, dynamic presentations, and beautiful videos."

The third and final year is aimed at all married couples and families within the archdiocese, beginning in January 2019. This program will highlight the goal of "rediscovering the mission of marriage and the family."

"Married couples and families of the Archdiocese will be invited to encounter the splendor of what Christ has revealed about marriage and family life through large and small group gatherings."

Each year is made up of three sessions, covering theological material such as the sacramentality of marriage, the goods of marriage, and the family as the domestic church. The classes will underscore the institution of marriage, the threats to marriage, and the mission of the family in the world.

In addition, the participants will also be involved with a 12-session small group class called CanaVox. These small group sessions will read and discuss relevant topics about marriage and the family through Church documents and current events.  

"The project, for all three years, moves in two directions, inviting a committed investment on the part of all."

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is hoping that this new program will reach out to couples after their marriage, as a continuation of the conversation that marriage prep started. Pope Francis has also recently spoken out about marriage, calling for better marriage prep, and pointing to the need for a "new catechumenate in preparation for marriage."

Remain in My Love will aim to "reinvigorate our understanding, practices and celebrations of Christian marriage and family life," to "every member of the clergy, lay faithful, and to every parish and institution" within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

More information about Remain in My Love can be found at www.archphila.org/remain

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