Marriage Preparation


The couple is encouraged to contact the pastor or pastoral administrator of their intention to marry six (6) months (minimum of 4 months) prior to the desired date of the wedding.

The assessment process will involve a number of steps to assist the pastor and the couple in discerning readiness for marriage.

These steps include:

  1. All Roman Catholics are required by Church law to be married in a Church building. To fulfill this expectation a Catholic must be a registered practicing member of a local parish, has received the sacrament of Confirmation, and must be of legal age by Church and state law.
  2. Couples desiring to be married in a Catholic wedding in the Diocese of Jefferson City are to notify their pastor or parish administrator directly and in person as soon as they have the intention to enter into marriage, no less than six months before the desired date and preferably a year. This notification is not to take place by way of a third party relative.
  3. The pastor, parish administrator, or delegate, will meet with the couple to explain the marriage preparation process. Marriage preparation will include completing a relationship assessment instrument, e.g. FOCCUS, which assesses the couple’s communication skills in varying areas of their relationship, as well as surfacing attitudes about marriage and the Christian faith. The results of the assessment are discussed with the couple.
  4. The couple is highly encouraged to attend a program such as Pre-Cana, or Engaged Encounter, depending on which is available in their respective area.
  5. During the pastoral meetings, the couple will establish a date of marriage and discuss the details of the wedding ceremony itself, such as the music, scriptural readings, decorations, etc., with the pastor or parish administrator or delegate.
  6. If one or both parties are under the age of 19, an additional special process for “teenage” marriages is required before approval can be given for the wedding to take place in the Catholic Church.
  7. If either of the parties intending the marriage has been a part of a previous marital union, no date can be set for a future wedding until the previous bond has been set aside through a process conducted by the Matrimonial Tribunal. This process, often times referred to as the “annulment process”, can take more than one year by itself. Please let the pastor or parish administrator know in the very first meeting if any previous marital bonds exist.

For further information contact the Tribunal Office of the Diocese of Jefferson City.


Fr. Daniel J. Merz, chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, and current pastor of St. George Parish (Linn), and Our Lady Help of Christians Parish (Frankenstein), authored an article on the revised Rite of Marriage that was published in 2/17/17 edition of The Catholic Missourian, the diocesan newspaper.

The article is available here.


The Sponsor Couple Program is a like-to-like ministry that is meeting basic pastoral needs for engaged couples preparing for marriage. A married couple provides the preparation on the practical, lived experience level and gives witness of the sacrament being lived out. There are five sessions, which last about two hours each and take place in the home of the married couple.


Engaged Encounter is a weekend in which an atmosphere is created for each couple to concentrate exclusively on one another. It is specifically designed to give a couple planning marriage an opportunity to talk honestly and intensively about their prospective lives together. It encourages the couple to concentrate on building a relationship and to develop communication skills. The weekend is presented by a team of married couples and a priest. Reservations and scheduling for Engaged Encounter are coordinated through the Diocese. Weekends are held at St. Pius X in Moberly, Missouri.

To register or for more information, please see the Engaged Encounter Registration.

Encounter Weekends – 2019

  • January 4-6
  • March 1-3
  • May 3-5
  • August 2-4

 Encounter Weekends – 2020

  • January 3-5


Pre-Cana is one component of the marriage preparation options available to couples that are considering marriage within the Catholic Church. The conference itself consists of presentations by couples and individuals on topics that are of a practical as well as a spiritual nature.

To register or for more information, please visit Pre-Cana. If you have questions, you can reach the coordinators at moc.l1553613348iamg@1553613348anace1553613348rpcj1553613348 .

The 2019 dates are:

  • March 30
  • April 27
  • July 27
  • October 19

March and April classes will be held at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, 2505 Mission Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65109. 

July and October classes will be held at the Diocese of Jefferson City Chancery, 2207 West Main, Jefferson City, MO 65110.

Cost is $50 per couple.