For those of you who aren’t Catholic or aren’t familiar with pre-marital requirements, Pre-Cana is basically a mini-marriage prep course for couples who wish to get married within the Catholic Church. The name is derived from the biblical account of the wedding feast of Cana, where Jesus brought “new wine” to the couple. (New wine, old wine..we accept all wine if you’re buying, haha.)
Programs aren’t standardized, so you can choose one that fits you best. They range from weekend retreats, month-long sessions, to a single day-long affair, which is what we chose.
We landed on The Paulist Center in Boston fairly easily. Brian saw that it received rave reviews as a more progressive program, so we arrived for the day at 10:15 on Saturday with only small-ish butterflies.
Father Rick kicked us off with an opening prayer and then we spent the morning doing worksheets about our strengths/weaknesses as individuals, our rankings of each other’s, our financial wants/needs/habits, etc. After each worksheet, we’d have 5-10 minutes to discuss our responses with just each other. This dedicated time to talk together was easily our favorite part. After we’d discuss, 3-4 married couples from the center who were with us for the day would elaborate a bit on their experiences. All-in-all, the flow of this format was great and before we knew it, they let us break for lunch.
What?! Yes. We got to leave for 1.5 for lunch. Hallelujah.
Like a pair of nerds, we finished discussing some of the sheets we hadn’t fully finished over lunch at the Omni Parker House, then headed back, to the chapel this time, for the afternoon session. Here, Father Rick reviewed the actual ceremony details and gave really great tips for phrasing vows so that guests can actually hear you say them in a large church, (like ours is).
We headed back downstairs to do more worksheets, learned about “natural family planning” (that was interesting, but definitely a little awkward) and heard from two married couples with children. They covered everything from fighting fair to dividing chores, then opened things up for an anonymous Q+A session.
Brian’s question about managing work/life balance with children was praised as a “great question that really shows you’re already thinking about the future,” aka the whole point of Pre-Cana. [Awww!!]
In the end, Brian summarized the day best:
It was a refreshing break from the grind of wedding planning, but most of all, it was great to spend 8 hours together imagining out future! Plus, the kids [the married couples brought] were adorable!
awww…..that is so sweet! What a nice day to spend together in a spiritual environment focusing on spiritual matters. A weekend retreat sounds fabulous.
Aww that’s great guys! Any take home tips you want to share with other engaged couples about making a life together?
We learned a lot from the married couples, so I’d talk to the people with experience for the best advice! From my limited perspective, I think couples that live together before they are married have a much better handle on a lot of the things you discuss in Pre-Cana, but I think the best takeaway for us was the value of just taking the time to put some thought to and then actually talk about the things you might only discuss abstractly, like household responsibilities, being a one-or two income household, and how you deal with confrontation. I’m sure similar worksheets are easily found online, but I’d be happy to send you the questions we worked on so you and Tim can give them a try if you want.