The mission of the Office of Family Life is that of direct service to parishes and families, so that families may answer their call to holiness and become the ‘domestic church’ rooted in Christ. The family is the primary unit of permanent relationships and the fundamental focus of Christian development.

The Office of Family Life will promote and support the four general tasks for the family: forming a community of persons, serving life, participating in the development of society, and sharing in the life and mission of the Church. (Tasks adapted from On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World)

Contact Information
Office of Family Life
467 Bloomfield Ave.
Bloomfield, CT 06002
860-242-5573 ext 2690
860-242-0367 fax
Email: Family.Life.Office@aohct.org

Staff
Lenard Kelley, Ed.D, Director
Martha Pezo-Marin, Coordinator of Hispanic Family Ministry and Natural Family Planning
Clarigsa Pena Llorens, Office Coordinator

“Every effort should be made to strengthen and develop pastoral care for the family, which should be treated as a real matter of priority in the certainty that future evangelization depends largely on the domestic church.” -Pope John Paul II, Address to the Third Assembly of the Bishops of Latin America, 28 January 1979

Five Step Marriage Preparation Process

The five step marriage preparation process was established to offer engaged couples a comprehensive marriage preparation program. Faith and Science were used to establish a program that provides the foundation needed to transfer from single life into Sacramental married life. The time expected to complete the marriage preparation program is between six and nine months. Please give yourself the time to complete this comprehensive marriage preparation program. Choosing your spouse is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. You are choosing to build your life with this person. Many people spend years in college or trade school preparing for a career. Please spend six to nine months preparing for your marriage—We promise you won’t regret it. If you would like marriage preparation in Spanish, then please email Martha Pezo-Marin. (Si desea preparación matrimonial en español, por favor envíe un email a Martha Pezo-Marin).

Meet with Your Pastor or his Representative

This step should happen before you set your wedding date (9 months before your wedding). Make sure you establish a date and time to complete your inventory.

Congratulations! you’re engaged. After you tell your family and friends, immediately call your pastor and establish a meeting. Your pastor, or his representative, will walk you through the marriage preparation program. Your pastor, or his representative, will provide you with the information you need to complete steps two through six. During this step, you should establish which marriage preparation program will work for you. Be sure to register for marriage preparation activities as soon as you can. You do not want to wait. Programs fill quickly. You have enough to organize when planning a wedding. Step 1 is a good time to organize your entire marriage preparation process. You will also establish a tentative wedding date—a date you would like to get married. An official wedding date comes a little bit further in the process.

Take a Marriage Preparation Inventory

Please set a date for this in your initial meeting as soon as possible.

Marriage preparation inventories are tools designed from years of scientific research that generate a conversation between you and your future spouse regarding (a) goals, (b) habits, (c) expectations, and (d) values. It is important that you fill out your inventory in private away from one another—THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Filling out the inventory together will provide false results that will not be helpful. It will be a waste of your time, your future spouse’s time, and your Pastor’s time. After you complete the inventory, you will be given a profile of your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. This profile sheet is an important launching pad for communicating about (a) issues that need affirmation, (b) issues that need time and attention, and (c) problem solving issues which may exist.

Attend a Married Life Skills Workshop

This should happen five to six months before the wedding.

This step builds on the success of the marriage preparation inventory. In this step, you will be taught practical skills intended to pave a smoother road for you in the first year or two of marriage. Skills taught in this step include (a) conflict resolution, (b) decision-making, (c) financial management, and (d) communication. The Archdiocese of Hartford and your parish offer many different options to accommodate you. We offer: (a) parish based programs—please speak to your pastor about this option, (b) Engaged Couples Conferences, and (c) Catholic Engaged Encounter. Our goal is to insure you have the best experience possible. Please choose the option that works best for you. It is at this time you will solidify your wedding date with your Pastor.

Sacrament of Reconciliation

This should happen before the wedding as needed.

The sacrament of reconciliation can help couples start their life together on a spiritual high note. The Catholic Church recommends people utilize the sacrament of reconciliation whenever there is need. Contact your church to schedule an appointment for reconciliation or look in the parish bulletin.

Meeting with Pastor to Plan Wedding

No later than six weeks before the wedding.

This is the final meeting you will have for your wedding preparation. This is the time to plan your wedding. At this meeting you will need to (a) choose your readings, (b) make sure you have a musician, (c) pick optional prayers, and (d) discuss any other cultural traditions. The Pastor or his delegate will walk you through the steps of the Catholic Liturgy insuring your wedding has the dignity God desires. It is at this meeting you will schedule your rehearsal and other practical matters that need addressing.

Conferences for Marriage Preparation

Engaged Couples Conference
Engaged Encounter

Natural Family Planning (NFP) Instruction

To help plan your family effectively and according to God’s will, it is important to get instruction on NFP. NFP uses the natural cycle of the woman’s body and the changes throughout her menstrual cycle to help the couple determine when they are or are not fertile. NFP does not involve medication or medical devices. Husbands and wives get pregnant, postpone pregnancy, or prevent pregnancy by understanding this concept.

The Office of Family Life offers NFP Introductory sessions 3 times a year directed to anyone interested in learning God’s vision of human sexuality. To register for a session please contact the office by email family.life.office@aohct.org or by phone (860) 242-5573. We also have a list of Certified NFP Instructors for the full NFP Method instruction.

For engaged couples we recommend to attend a session three to four months before the wedding

Marriage Enrichment and Support

Sometimes marriages need a little massage and not a full override. The Office of Family Life is happy to offer marriage enrichment programs that do just that—massage your working marriage. The Office of Family Life offers a Marriage Enrichment retreat, Marriage Encounter, and Retrouvaille retreat.

Marriage Enrichment Retreat

The Marriage Enrichment retreat is a one-day retreat for married couples. During this one-day retreat, married couples will be given ideas on how to edify their marriage using Dr. Gottman’s, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” These seven principles were developed by Dr. Gottman using the scientific method. Dr. Gottman examined what made marriages work instead of why marriages failed. This groundbreaking work has helped enhance and save marriages for decades and is guaranteed to enhance your marriage whether you are a newlywed or have been married for years.

Marriage Encounter

Marriage Encounter is a weekend retreat freeing married couples from distractions so they focus on their marriage. Marriage Encounter is considered the first marriage enrichment program offered to married couples originally presented in Barcelona by Fr. Gabriel Calvo in 1962. The decades of trial and error has made Marriage Encounter the premiere Catholic couples retreat worldwide.
See Marriage Encounter Website

Retrouvaille

Retrouvaille is for couples considering separation, separated, or divorced wanting to repair their marriage by reviving their relationship. Retrouvaille is a three-phase program with each phase offering opportunities to heal your marriage. Retrouvaille is for husbands and wives and not intended for couples in cohabitating relationships.
See Retrouvaille Website

Retrouvaille phase one. Phase one is the weekend retreat. This phase is designed to help couples re-establish communication. You will not be asked to share your problems with others; however, you will be asked to put the past behind you. The team assisting your weekend experience uses established tools to help improve your marriage.

Retrouvaille phase two. Phase two is the post weekend sessions important for the healing process. The hurt and pain of a struggling marriage cannot be healed in a single weekend experience. The second phase expands the weekend experience with a series of two hour talks. Phase two is one of the most productive aspects of Retrovuaille where growth and healing of the marriage occurs.

Retrouvaille phase three. Phase three is the final phase of the Retrouvaille experience. Couples will participate in monthly small-group meeting called Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience (CORE). These meetings are casual meetings designed to support the success couples enjoyed during Phase one and Phase two.

Bereavement Ministry

The Archdiocese of Hartford would like to encourage anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one to attend the New Day Bereavement Program. The New Day Bereavement Program meets two hours a week 10 consecutive weeks. The meetings are designed to help participants walk through each element of the grieving process using (a) prayer, (b) reflection, (c) sharing, (d) and journaling. Everything shared during these meetings is confidential.

Divorce and Separated Ministry

The Archdiocese of Hartford offers people who have experienced divorce an opportunity to heal with Divorce and Beyond ministry. This ministry is designed to help you cope with this difficult time by sharing with people who have similar experiences. The 10 sessions of Divorce and Beyond cover nine topics: (a) process of divorce, (b) self-image, (c) stress, (d) anger, (e) blame and guild, (f) loneliness, (g) forgiveness, (h) happiness, and (I) pathways to growth.

Parental Education

Nothing offered at this time.

Infertility Support

Infertility can be extremely difficult for married couples open to life wanting to raise children together. The Archdiocese of Hartford, in alignment with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, want to “provide hope—real hope that couples can accept children lovingly from God and build a family while fully respecting God’s design for their marriage and for the gift of children” (USCCB, Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology, 2009).

The USCCB produced a document entitled, “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology.” This document answered 11 questions regarding infertility within the Catholic worldview. The questions answered by this document are: (a) How are sex and procreation related? (b) How does this vision differ from the dominant view of our contemporary culture? (c) How does the use of donors and surrogates in trying to have a child raise a moral problem? (d) What about reproductive technology that does not involve such third parties? (f) What is wrong with in vitro fertilization (IVF)? (g) Does IVF lead to further risks and abuses? (h) What is wrong with human cloning? (i) Do these technologies pose risks to women and to children who are born? (j) Must couples with fertility problems abandon their hope of conceiving a child? (k) If a couple cannot have children, can their marriage still have its full Christian purpose and meaning? (l) What is the Church’s view of having a family through adoption? What about “embryo adoption”? The answers for these questions can be read here.

Several good resources for Catholic’s faced with infertility issues include but are not limited to (a) “The infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples”, (b) Life Matters: Reproductive Technologies, (c) USCCB teaching and resources on infertility, (d) Natural Family Planning, and (e) NaPro Technology. These resources, “offer real hope for restoring a couple’s natural healthy ability to have children” (USCCB, Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology, 2009).