Diocese of Santa Rosa

“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 is information pertaining to engaged couples desiring to be married in the Catholic Church and who live within the Diocese of Santa Rosa.  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.


#1 Initial meeting with Priest  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 should be able to answer any questions you may have.  To give you plenty of time to accomplish the various marriage preparation components, please begin this process at least  9-12 months in advance  of your planned wedding date.


#2 FOCCUS 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 done on-line and is available in English and Spanish.  Normally the follow-up with a FOCCUS facilitatior is done in person, but due to the Coronavirus situation it may be possible to complete this inventory discussion using ZOOM.  For details about FOCCUS, go to:     www.foccusinc.com 


#3  Witness to Love 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:  www.witnesstolove.org

PLEASE NOTEDue to the Coronavirus situation, it is unfortunately not possible to complete this component of the marriage preparation process.  Until in-person meetings are again allowed, this component is waived for engaged couples trying to complete all of the needed components. 


#4 Marriage Formation 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.

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



♦  Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends:  This is another option to fulfill the Marriage Formation Program component.           (http://www.engagedencounter.org)
     Sacramento (https://www.sacee.org/)       
            2020 weekend dates: November 20-22 
            2021 weekend dates: January 15-17;  March 19-21;  May 28-30
     San Francisco (http://sfcee.org/)     
             2021 weekend dates:   January 30-31;   March 20-21;   April 24-25
     San Jose (in Spanish)  (http://encuentrodenoviossj.org/
           2020 fechas:  Diciembre 4-6 (Retiro’s Virtuales)
#5 God Is!  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:
All scheduled God Is! Day of Renewal retreats have been CANCELLED due to Coronavirus.  As soon the situation changes with regards to being able to safely gather in groups again, a new schedule will be established. The dates for the retreats will be posted here.  For engaged couples getting married before any God Is! retreats are scheduled again, this component is waived.
En Espanol:  Nada esta programado por el momento.


#6 Natural Family Planning  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 are the currently scheduled 2-hr NFP introductory classes:


PLEASE NOTE:  The scheduled “in-person” NFP intro classes have been CANCELLED due to Coronavirus. To  inquire about other opportunities to complete this component of the Marriage Preparation Process, please contact the Marriage & Family Life Office at:   [email protected] 




#7 Final Meeting with Priest  

When all the components of the marriage preparation process are completed it is now time to meet again with your priest to have another conversation and to review your experience in preparing for your marriage.   If all is in order, this conversation will lead to focusing on the Sacramental and Liturgical aspects of your wedding ceremony.



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.