While the course is designed for the mentoring format, it has been successfully adapted for small home groups and even larger parish groups. Groups offer the opportunity for couples to exchange ideas though it should be noted that this is a secondary agenda; the primary purpose of the course is to deepen the couple’s intimacy and prepare them spiritually for the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Thus it is not necessary to have any ‘group activities’ when dealing with engaged or married couples though some limited group sessions can enhance the process. This can be difficult for Facilitators as group sessions provide feedback about how the material is being received. …
Small Home Groups over six evenings
Small groups in the home over six evenings preserves the valuable experience of the sacramental couple in their natural environment (their home). The six session format also allows couples the time to incorporate the material into their daily lives, do the take home activities and practice the skills.
The maximum number of couples will depend on the home and the preferences of the Mentors. Couples need a bit of space to privately share together and theMentor’s family also needs to be taken into account. Two to three couples helps preserve the intimate nature of the course, though larger numbers can certainly be justified.
Please note: The course is designed to allow discussion and interaction between Mentor and the engaged. It is generally more difficult to get couples to engage in discussion even in a small group. In order to allow the engaged couples the benefit of individual mentoring, the following is recommended:
- Try to ‘touch base’ with each couple individually at least once each session. A good time to do this is towards the end of the couple activity. You may need to allow extra time for the activity, or split up to cover all the couples. Other good opportunities are as they arrive (first couple) or before they leave (last couple).
- Consider meeting individually with each couple for one session. The best session for this is Session 3 (Knowing Me – Knowing You – Family of Origin). You may need to adjourn the group for one or two weeks to cover all the couples.
Parish Based Intensives
Larger parish/diocese based groups certainly offer the advantage of efficiency but it does come at the cost of the engaged couples’ experience. A larger group means that a six week format will be unlikely to enjoy full attendance by every couple. A ‘catch up’ plan needs to be in place. It is also possible to use an intensive format over two days though it should be noted that each step away from the optimum six week Mentoring format leads to an inferior experience. Intensives require some culling of the content as couples tire towards the end of the day and simply cannot absorb any more information. Some formats to consider:
- Four weeks (S1 | 2 | 3 | 4 , 2 hours each) + half day (S5-6 , 4 hours) with Mass & Parish hosted banquet.
- Two Sundays (S1-3 | S4-6), each day being ~6 hours each.
- Four afternoons (S1-2 | 3 | 4 | 5-6) ~ 3.5 hours each