Marriage Preparation in the Diocese of Rapid City

“The very preparation for Christian marriage is itself a journey of faith.
It is a special opportunity for the engaged to rediscover and deepen the faith received
in baptism and nourished by their Christian upbringing.
In this way they come to recognize and freely accept their vocation to follow Christ
and to serve the kingdom of God in the married state.”


Family Life Ministry

The desire of your parish and of the Office of Family Life Ministries is that as a couple you are brought into an encounter with Jesus Christ as a person. Through that encounter, you will come to appreciate the values and virtues that will equip you to live out your marriage and faith that brings joy to you as a couple, and to your family. Family Life Ministries works to support your priest and parish in your preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony.

First Step-Contact Your Parish

The Marriage Preparation Program will take six to eight months to complete. Your schedule, and the schedule of the priest or pastoral minister working with you, and the content of the program requires that time. Formal preparation needs to be finished some weeks before the wedding to ensure that the necessary paperwork required by the Church is completed in a timely fashion.

If both the bride and groom are Catholic, the preparation may take place in the parish where either party is registered and involved. If only one member of the couple is Catholic, the preparation would normally take place in the parish where the Catholic person is registered and involved.

Initial Interview

In the initial interview with the priest or pastoral minister who will be working with the couple, it is important to ensure that both parties are free to marry in the Catholic Church.Those couples who have been married and divorced need to bring that awareness to the attention of the priest or pastoral minister working with the couple.

Couples in a civil marriage seeking validation (the Church’s blessing) of their union as well as couples advanced in age may have the following requirements adjusted depending on their unique circumstances. They might also be required to complete the total marriage process outlined as follows. It is also important to review the program requirements and consider any special circumstances that will require the attention of the couple and/or the priest or pastoral minister working with them.

Marriage Preparation consists of four aspects:

The FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory is designed to assist the couple in exploring their relationship through a variety of questions divided into several categories.

This research-based inventory assesses the couple’s agreement, disagreement, or indecision about statements related to important issues such as communication, problem-solving, religion, family and friends, careers, cohabitation, parenting, sexuality, finances, and more.

Once scored, the priest or pastoral minister will assist the couple todiscuss a broad range of important topics which can help them understand the meaning of their union, discover their individual styles, and learn communication and conflict resolution skills that will enhance their lifelong relationship.

Your parish will also offer you the Life Skills series of the Joy Filled Marriage Program.They may be offered directly with the priest, a mentor couple or in a group setting, over a weekend or a series of meetings.

These sessions will assist the couple to acquire the tools they need to live a joy-filled marriage, building on the areas identified in the FOCCUS inventory as strengths or areas of improvement.

The Heart to Heart Weekend Retreat is designed to provide couples with an opportunity to deepen their relationship with one another and with God through a series of talks, activities, prayer experiences and quiet time for reflection.

We ask you to bring an attitude of eagerness and openness to talk with your beloved, to pray to God, and to quietly listen to your heart. This is a chance to step away from the ordinary–from work, from recreation and from distractions. It is a time for you to relax and to spend quiet time with each other and with God.  The retreat begins on Friday evening and concludes after lunch on Sunday.

Register for a Heart to Heart Weekend here:

Note: Please register at least 30 days prior to retreats.  Retreats which have not yet met minimum requirements prior to 30 days are subject to cancellation.  Payment is not required the day of registration.

Please also note, if you or your fiancé are in the process of pursuing annulment, unfortunately you are not yet eligible to attend this retreat. If you have questions concerning this speak to your pastor.

Why does the Church care about what we use to plan our family?  Natural Family Planning is Good for your Body and Good for your Soul!  

The Natural Family Planning Seminar is offered by the Office of Family Life Ministries of the Diocese of Rapid City. It is a three hour seminar which offers an introduction to the Church’s vision of sexuality, children and the planning of families in a sacramental marriage.

Couples will have the opportunity to visit with a witness couple who uses Natural Family Planning, as well as receive an introductory session to one of the methods offered within the Diocese of Rapid City. This session is our gift to you, and there is no charge for this introductory session. At the conclusion of the session, the couples will be able to begin charting and make plans for future follow-up if they select the method presented.  There is no charge to attend our NFP Seminar.  

2023 Dates (All times Mountain Time) 

In Person, Terra Sancta Retreat Center 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM 
Saturday July 22, 2023

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023

Saturday, Jan. 6, 2023

Attendance is required for all engaged couples and encouraged for married couples. For information on Natural Family Planning Methods and teachers click here.

For other information, please contact FamilyLife Ministries for more details.