I have known Marriage Care for about eight years, as my wife Geraldine is a volunteer counsellor with Marriage Care.
I’d known about the Marriage Preparation work that Marriage Care provide. But didn’t think I’d have the time to be involved and I didn’t think I’d be expert enough to help couples understand what marriage in the Catholic Church involves.
About two years ago, I was standing down as a school governor and also as a Trustee of another local charity, and I thought I’d like to get more involved in Marriage Care, knowing from Geraldine’s experience that it was a special organisation. I had been to a few Marriage Care events and I knew that I would fit! I also felt that I was being called to do this – to share my faith with others – even though I only have a very simple understanding of my faith.
So I applied to become a Marriage Preparation Course Facilitator and was delighted to be accepted.
Training as a Marriage Preparation Facilitator
I signed up for the training. Two residential weekends away with homework in between; these were referred to as my “holiday weekends” in our house! That probably came about because of how much I showed my enjoyment of them. What great fun to be working together with a group of others on a shared endeavour.
I’m used to doing presentations for my job so that aspect of the training felt more of a refresher to me. But it also worked for others who had less experience of presenting. We were relieved when we realised how detailed and comprehensive the course materials are for us to use. With a bit of practice we all knew we could do it!
John’s volunteering journey so far
So 18 months on, I’ve run sessions that 31 couples have attended and it’s been great fun. I love the chance to meet couples at the really exciting time in their life when they are preparing to be married.
It’s particularly important to me to be welcoming; lots of couples are mixed, with one partner not a Catholic. I want to help those partners understand more about our Catholic ways –including the strange bits!
There’s also huge satisfaction in helping those couples explore more about their own relationship; helping them to realise things about themselves and their partners that they might not have discovered yet. We do touch on potentially difficult aspects of maintaining relationships but also on being joyful.
And then there’s more fun. When people ask me why I do it, I often say that you just get some great craic!