Marriage Care / Plater Trust project: 2

In light of the findings of project 1, Marriage Care was awarded further funding by the Charles Plater Trust in 2018, to develop a series of online formation modules for volunteers engaged in marriage preparation: Personal Formation for Counselling and Facilitation: Lay Leadership in the post-Millennial Age.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols with Dr Elizabeth Davies, Director of Formation and Dr Martine Thompson, Formation Development Worker, both of Marriage Care. Image copyright: Mazur/

The research had uncovered the pivotal role of volunteers in brokering deeper relationships between engaged couples and the Catholic Church.  Perceived by couples as the Church’s “smiling face”, it emerged, however, that, nonetheless, volunteers often lacked confidence in articulating both their own lived experience of the sacrament of marriage and the teaching of the Church. These were also topics on which the research had revealed that engaged couples would welcome more and stronger input during marriage preparation. This project aimed to address that need, using Marriage Care’s mission, vision, ethos and values statement as a starting point.

An Academic Board was convened to develop the modules, chaired by Dr Clare Watkins. The team comprised David McLoughlin, Emeritus Professor and Visiting Honorary Fellow at Newman University, Keith Chappell, a family mediator and marriage preparation provider at Marriage Care’s Reading Centre, Jean Marsh, a Marriage Care Counsellor, Trainer and Spiritual Director, and Elizabeth Davies, Director of Formation at Marriage Care. The material was further shaped by feedback from Marriage Care volunteers who participated in a pilot review and includes resources drawn from the Marriage & Family Life Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference as well as other online sources.

Six modules were developed in total:

i. Marriage and the Common Good: Relational Poverty and a Call to all People of Good Will
ii. Deeply Catholic, Deeply Human: The Baptismal Vocation
iii. Relationship, Love and the Call to Marriage in the Catholic tradition
iv. Graced Living: What does it mean to Call Marriage a Sacrament?
v. Relationships and Spirituality: Practical Experiences of Lay Leadership
vi. Personal Formation for Counselling and Facilitation: Lay Leadership and Service for Our Times

For further information about the online programme please contact Marriage Care’s Chief Executive Mark Molden:

Feedback from the Pilot Phase:

“I have a greater understanding of relational poverty and also the effects of our upbringing on how we form relations in later life.”

“I need to process the huge amount of information  but immediate reaction is a greater sense of how the Church is moving to a more ” practical” support position for Marriage and families: I see this from the perspective of a Marriage Prep Facilitator so was constantly  looking for new ideas/ material to help with this role.”

“As a Marriage Prep facilitator: the course has highlighted further some key aspects of Leadership and of relationship education itself.”

“A greater awareness of the inevitable link between marriage and family life: and how that family links to the family of the parish and to the Church.”

Marriage Care website blog about the project