Fall marriage preparation classes to begin at Sacred Heart Catholic Church

By AMRITA JAYAKUMAR

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Attending marriage preparation classes is like going to the dentist, according to John Weaver, a deacon at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Locust Street.

“You don’t want to, but you always feel better when it’s over,” Weaver said.

The church is holding its biannual pre-marriage program for three parishes

While the program is primarily for these parishes, members of surrounding parishes are welcome to attend.

The program, which runs from Sept. 21 to Oct. 26, covers a variety of relationship aspects for couples, such as family planning, dollars and sense and day-to-day living.

The focus isn’t completely religious, however.

“We teach those skills that you might not acquire as a single person,” Weaver said.

The class is taught through a combination of experienced married couples, clerics and individuals, according to the class’ brochure.

“We choose Catholic couples from the Columbia community who are educated or trained in particular areas to teach the class,” Weaver said.

One such couple is Lili Vianello and John Shrum, who attended the program when they were engaged.

“It was a great conduit to get couples talking about things they wouldn’t,” Vianello said.

Vianello works in communication while Shrum is involved in training. Vianello said it was roughly her fourth time teaching the ‘Married Love and Communication’ class in the program.

“Some of the topics we cover are how negative comments can impact your spouse versus positive comments,” Vianello said. “Communication is not what you say but how you say it, in terms of pitch and tonality and we teach how the brain processes what is said.”

Apart from the regular classes, the couples are also given readings and assignments. “We give them enough to read to start to question areas that they normally wouldn’t,” Weaver said.

When it comes to what could be considered the more controversial aspects of the class, like family planning, Weaver said the program is “not judgmental.”

“Being a Catholic church however, we do teach natural methods of family planning and look at the moral and spiritual ways,” he said.

The feedback from the course has largely been positive, Weaver said. There are evaluations held at the end of the program to assess couples’ reactions.

Weaver said he liked watching the change in attitude of some of the couples as the sessions progressed.

“When they come in for the fourth or fifth session, the frown is not as long on their faces.”

The pre-marriage program will tentatively begin on Sept. 21 and classes will be held  from 7 to 8:30 p.m., every Tuesday at the Sacred Heart Church. Couples who are not yet registered can do so at the first class.

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