23 August 2018
World Meeting of Families

Marriage Preparation in the light of “Amoris Laetitia”: The experience of the Office for Life, Family, and Marriage of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

“The complexity of today’s society and the challenges faced by the family require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in preparing those who are about to be married.” The testimony of the Office for Life, Family and Marriage of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, given by Caroline Dollard and Msgr. Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton, during the Pastoral Congress at the Dublin World Meeting of Families (21-26 August), began with that passage of Amoris Laetitia (AL no. 206). “Starting from our experience,” Msgr. Doyle explained, “we can say that, when couples are going through marriage preparation, it is important for families and parish communities to be committed to accompanying young couples who are preparing themselves for married life.” The path experimented in England and Wales is a real “journey,” which involves not only the couples of future spouses but also the parish communities themselves. In fact, one of the points on which the program insists is that of making families and parish communities aware of the importance of offering a concrete testimony today of what sacramental marriage means. “This testimony helps engaged couples,” explains Msgr. Doyle, “to understand what God and the Church want for them.” Furthermore, parish communities can offer important support. “The support of the communities implies concrete assistance to young couples,” he adds, “because it can offer them knowledge and an important wealth of experience, while encouraging them, above all, to open themselves to the presence of God in their lives, a presence that will help them to support their love in a long, faithful, and fruitful marriage.” “When the parish communities take this responsibility seriously,” continues Msgr. Doyle, “the ministry of marriage preparation has the potential to be a life-giving joy for communities and families. Their love is contagious and does everyone good, as Pope Francis recalls in Amoris Laetitia (no. 207).” A series of practical examples enriched the testimony of the Office for Life, Family, and Marriage of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. And, starting from these examples and from the testimonies presented during the seminar, it is clear how every step in a young couple’s journey in life can take on a new light when it is accompanied by families and the parish community.