New Hispanic marriage resources available

Categories: Around the Diocese

Diocesan offices collaborate to meet expanding needs

By Kristi Anderson
The Visitor

The diocesan offices of Multicultural Ministries and Marriage and Family are making new strides in strengthening Hispanic/Latino marriage ministry in the Diocese of St. Cloud. In recent months, the offices have collaborated to provide additional tools and training for married couples to assist pastors with marriage preparation.

“The Synod of Bishops on the family refers to the parish as a ‘family of families,’” said Chris Codden, director of the Marriage and Family office. “So when we look at Hispanic ministry and how we build personal relationships with Jesus Christ, we see that it takes place in communities. Having materials in their own language, taught by other couples who are interested in marriage, is very helpful. It creates a safe place to ask questions and support one another.”

Diocesan policy for all couples seeking marriage or convalidation — when couples who were married civilly seek to have their marriages blessed by the church — involves six months of preparation. Couples must take either a premarital or convalidation inventory and attend a marriage course.

New materials, more training

In 2009, the Office of Marriage and Family released a new curriculum for couples preparing for marriage called Fully Engaged that includes an inventory, workbook and facilitator’s guide. The Spanish version followed in 2011.

Last spring, the office added a program for convalidation. The Spanish edition was released Jan. 10 when Chris Vaughan, the director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, who worked on the translation, traveled to the Diocese of St. Cloud to conduct a training session for Hispanic sponsor couples, who help other couples prepare for Christian marriage.
The convalidation process is especially important for the Hispanic/Latino community.

In many Latin American countries “civil marriage and sacramental marriage are not combined,” Codden said. “When any couple comes looking for convalidation, there is something that is calling them back into the church. We need to be an instrument to help couples and parishes keep the focus on what Christ is calling us to, especially in the sacrament of marriage.”
Marriage courses offered

David and Adela Hernandez, parishioners of St. Joseph in Waite Park, have been working with pastors across the diocese to help with Hispanic/Latino marriage preparation, conducting “mini” marriage courses using materials from the Office of Marriage and Family. Despite their efforts, Codden said the diocese needed to look at broadening its outreach.

“David and Adela were traveling all over the diocese to meet with individual couples,” she explained. “It wasn’t respectful to them or to the couples who were not given a chance to be part of a community that is preparing for marriage.”

Codden met with key individuals including Mayuli Bales, diocesan director of Multicultural Ministries, and pastors who serve large Hispanic/Latino populations to discuss how to move forward.

“The priests were doing the best they could,” said Bales, “but we needed to work on creating some common ground to support them.”

“We talked about the need for us to be more intentional and to have a program that follows our diocesan policy [and] also meets the needs of the families we are serving,” Codden added. “What we are trying to accomplish is a more community-based approach.”

The first Hispanic/Latino marriage course in the St. Cloud Diocese was conducted with 10 couples Nov. 1.

“All of these initiatives are a plus for the community in general, not just for the Hispanic/Latino community,” Bales said. “What these courses do is not only help couples prepare for marriage but really help them to be formed as a family by sharing their values, beliefs and Catholic principles.”

Two more Hispanic/Latino marriage courses are scheduled in Melrose on March 7 and June 27.

For more information, contact the Office of Marriage and Family at 320-252-4721.