Marriage Preparation

"You will reciprocally promise love, loyalty, and matrimonial honesty. We only want for you this day that these words constitute the principle of your entire life and that with the help of divine grace you will observe these solemn vows that today, before God, you formulate."

Saint Pope John Paul II


Congratulations on your engagement!  Your time of engagement is an exciting time for you with many details to consider.  Of utmost importance is the opportunity to prepare yourself to receive this most beautiful sacrament in the Catholic Church.  

A nice introduction to a wedding and marriage in the Catholic Church is to watch the video  "Saying I Do: What Happens at a Catholic Wedding."  This 23-minute video, produced by For Your Marriage, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will give you an overall perspective in preparing for your wedding in the Catholic Church.      


Listed below are some items pertaining to engaged couples desiring to be married in the Catholic Church and who live within the Diocese of Santa Rosa. The newly updated Marriage Preparation Policy (as of April 22, 2019) includes many changes from the previous policy and will be obligatory within the Diocese of Santa Rosa after January 1, 2020.  Included here is the section of the Marriage Preparation Policy listing the the seven components for you to review regarding to the mariage preparation process.  There is also a Checklist for Engaged Couples to help you in the process. 

Click here to read the pages of the Marriage Preparation Policy explaining the seven components.  

Click here to review the Checklist for Engaged Couples.


The very first step  in the Marriage Preparation Process  is to contact your local parish and meet with the Pastor.  He will be anxious to talk with you about the beauty of marriage in the Catholic Church and will also go over the marriage preparation components.  He can also answer any questions you may have.  Please begin this process at least  9-12 months in advance  of your planned wedding date.


► After meeting with the Pastor of your local parish, the next component in the Marriage Preparation Process is to complete FOCCUS, the "pre-nuptial inventory."  Your pastor may be able to administer the inventory for you or may have you contact a qualified FOCCUS Facilitator.  The FOCCUS  inventory is available in Spanish and English.  For details about FOCCUS, go to: 


►After completing the FOCCUS inventory, the next component of the Marriage Preparation Process is to participate in the Witness to Love mentoring program.

What is Witness to LoveWitness to Love is a virtues-based, instructional model of marriage preparation that integrates modern principles of psychology and the virtues to help couples facilitate an authentic dialogue about their relationship.

Witness to Love is unique in that the engaged couple chooses their own mentor couple to help guide them through the reality of Christian married life. In the sharing of the mentor couples’ own marriage journey, the engaged couple inherits a “lifeline” of support in their commitment to live their own marriage vows.

Your local pastor should be able to assist you in getting started in this marriage preparation component.  Witness to Love is available in English or Spanish.  For specific details, go to:


►An important component in the Marriage Preparation Process is to participate in a Marriage Formation Program.  Listed below are links to two of the four options available.  Click here to review the  "Marriage Formation Program Options."

  ♦  This is one of the four Marriage Formation Program Options.  It is an on-line program.  It is available in English  or Spanish. 


or ...

 ♦  Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends:  This is another option to fulfill the Marriage Formation Program component.           (
     Sacramento (       
            2020 weekend dates:   May 22-24
     San Francisco (     
           2020 weekend dates:   April 25-26
                                                 May 16-17       
                                                 June 27-28
     San Jose (in Spanish)  (
           2020 fechas:    6 y 7 de junio
                                    12 y 13 de septiembre
                                     7 y 8 de noviembre
►Another component of the Marriage Preparation Process is to attend a one-day "God Is! Day of Renewal" retreat.  This retreat is an opportunity for you to experience the fullness of faith as found in the Catholic Church.  This retreat meets people along their faith journey, reaching out through a variety of interactions and experiences during the day.  The God Is! Day of Renewal also provides a wonderful opportunity for the Catholic engaged couple (or individual if both are not Catholic) to participate in the Sacrament of Reconcilation, an important part of the preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The God Is! Day of Renewal retreats are given at various locations throughout the Diocese of Santa Rosa.The scheduled retreats are:
Saturday, March 14, 2020  CANCELLED  due to Coronavirus  to be held in English at St. Anthony's Parish in Willits. 
Any engaged couple wishing to attend this retreat needs to please RSVP to Robin Carter at  or  (707) 984-8404.  There is no charge for this retreat but a $20 donation per couple is suggested to help cover the cost for the lunch.  Please arrive between 8:15 and 8:45 AM.  This God Is! retreat begins at 9:00 AM sharp and concludes with the ending of Mass (Mass starts at 5:30 PM).  Engaged couples will be provided a certificate of attendance.  St. Anthony's Parish is located at:   61 West San Francisco Ave., Willits, CA   
Saturday, March 28, 2020 POSTPONED due to Coronavirus  to be held in English at the Cathedral of St. Eugene's in Santa Rosa.  
Any engaged couple desiring to attend this retreat will need to please RSVP by sending an e-mail to:   Please include your full names, the name of your home parish, and that you are an engaged couple that will be attending. There is no charge for this retreat but a $20 donation per couple is suggested to help cover the cost for the lunch. Those wishing to attend should arrive at St. Eugene’s between 7:30 and 8 AM.  The retreat will begin at 8:00 AM sharp.  Mass begins at 4:30 PM will conclude the retreat.  Engaged couples attending will be provided a certificate of attendance.  The Cathedral of St. Eugene is at 2323 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa across from the Montgomery Village shopping center.  
En Espanol:  Nada esta programado por el momento.


►The Natural Family Planning (NFP) component of the Marriage Preparation Process consists of a 2-hour introductory class. NFP is the general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies.  NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.  Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God's design for married love!


Listed here is the currently scheduled 2-hr NFP "intro class" (more to be added soon).


    In Santa Rosa in English:   March 21st    CANCELLED due to Coronavirus                         


To register or inquire about other scheduled NFP classes contact the Marriage & Family Life Office at: 




Click here to read Bishop Vasa's "Decree" of the updated Marriage Preparation Policy.  

Click here to read the entire updated Marriage Preparation Policy.


An additional resource in Marriage Preparation:

For Your Marriage is an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) with resources for couples who are at all stages of relationship: dating, engaged, and married. It is designed to assist Catholic couples prepare for the Sacrament of Matrimony and provide information for married couples on Catholic parenting, co-parenting, entering second marriages, and many other relational situations.