New marriage prep course increases church attendance among newlyweds from 10-90%

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The divorce rate at five years of marriage for Catholics is 23 percent, while it's 25 percent for the general U.S. population. 

With these statistics in hand, Mary-Rose and Ryan Verret decided to start a marriage-prep program to help Catholics stay together, starting with their own parish in Louisiana. 

Founder, “Witness to Love”

“We began Witness to Love really as a response to the divorce rate and low church attendance in our community. It's really... those young couples, those young families, they are the future of the Church. If you don't see them in Church, and we weren't seeing them, how could we change that?”

After starting the program in her parish, church attendance among newlyweds increased from 10 percent to 90 percent.

The main component about this program is that couples can choose a mentor couple who reflects the ideal they also hope to live out in their marriage, instead of being assigned a random one. In this way, the church community forms and assists both couples, as they learn from one another and enrich their marriages. 

Founder, “Witness to Love”

“I think Witness to Love, we want to emphasis that the virtue component, to grow in the image and likeness of God, can only take place within relationships. It can't really take place with any kind of binders or videos or small group studies. It has to be practiced. The best way to practice virtue is to be around other people who are also striving for virtue.”

“Collaborating with all these volunteers, collaborating with the great materials from Witness to Love, I am better able to father my people than I could by myself.”

Yet, the program is not only for engaged couples, but also for those who are civilly married and desire to marry in the Church. In this way, parishes keep their doors open to couples who want to take this step. 

Throughout Canada and the United States, 3,000 couples in more than 400 parishes have used this program. It's continuing to grow to not only more parishes, but it's being translated into Spanish, French and Vietnamese to better serve all couples seeking a deeper relationship with God and each other. 

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