Marriage preparation workshops are run at St Francis on a regular basis and are open to couples from all parishes and all denominations.

This does not excuse the priest from his responsibility, neither does it take over his job, but allows lay people to interact in a non-threatening way to discuss areas pertinent to marriage in an open and honest manner. We encourage priests to use us and are available to give them as much feedback as they would like. When a couple approaches the church for marriage, there will be an introductory meeting with the priest, who can then recommend that the couple attends the workshops.

The more couples attending a workshop the better, as it gives more variety and input. The course follows a short talk with guidelines, usually an exercise for the couple and a "situation" which they sort out in a group. The aim is to get couples to look at situations from each other's point of view and not to work on the assumption "my partner thinks like me". Most couples expect their future home to work more or less as their own family home worked, e.g. "My mother handled the money and paid the bills, so the wife should do this," or "My father played golf every Wednesday afternoon, Saturday morning and most Sunday afternoons, so this should be fine for me."

We cover the following topics:

Following the workshop, each couple has an individual session with a leader where we follow up on any problems that may have arisen during the course and talk to them about their individual relationship.

The couple then returns to their priest to discuss the workshop, marriage ceremony and practicalities. They are encouraged to let their priest know their negative feelings so that the priest and the couple can understand each other's needs and the wedding day will not be spoilt. For example, some one may say, "I feel very uncomfortable when I go to church and people are waving their arms and shouting Amen and Allelujah, and my future father-in-law is very conservative and I'm worried about it." They need to tell their priest this, so that on THEIR wedding day the priest doesn't start the service with something like, "What a wonderful day, Allelujah, praise the Lord, let's all have a time of openly giving thanks to God."

We also present an additional course for preparing people for Remarriage, which includes the above, but also adds step children, visitation rights, old ties and new commitments, setting up a home that is "ours", and other aspects of divorce and remarriage.