by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — As the old song goes, “Love makes the world go round,” but bold initiatives for marriage ministry require funding.
And here is some good news: New funding has arrived.
Three new marriage-strengthening initiatives will be launched in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas thanks to a $50,000 matching grant given to implement the national pastoral framework for marriage and family life ministry.
The three initiatives, funded by the grant, will be ministries of the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life.
The grant monies come from the Catholic Marriage Initiatives Fund, which was established by Catholic philanthropists who want to support the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops program as outlined in the document, “Called to the Joy of Love: A Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry.”
“For the application process, [the archdiocese] had to come up with three projects out of 27 different ministry areas to implement over a two-to-four-year period,” said Brad DuPont, consultant with the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life. “We’re doing a three-year project.”
To meet the conditions of the matching grant, $10,000 will be raised the first year, $20,000 the second year and another $20,000 the third year. The total monies for the three programs will be $100,000.
The grant cannot be used for funding or expanding existing programs, said Libby DuPont, consultant for the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life. It’s “new money for new programs,” she said.
The first program is called the First Five Initiative.
In this program, the archdiocese will partner with six to eight parishes to recruit newly married couples, defined as those married less than five years. The couples will first be invited to an introductory dinner/date night series, then a weekend immersion retreat and finally to a follow-up skills course offered in partnership with the local marriage apostolate EverMore In Love.
Not all couples will go through the entire program. But those who do will be fully trained to be volunteer Marriage Missionaries in their parish, able to help their parish to repeat the cycle with new couples for the next year. The program will expand to an additional six to eight parishes each year.
The second program is Life-Giving Wounds.
The office of marriage and family life will oversee the founding of a chapter of the ministry Life-Giving Wounds in the archdiocese. The ministry helps adult children heal from wounds caused by the divorce of their parents. In year one, the grant monies will pay for an event to raise awareness, with the goal of recruiting volunteers interested in establishing a chapter. In year two, ministry leaders will be trained, and the first retreat will be conducted.
The third program is marriage enrichment in Spanish.
The archdiocesan Hispanic ministry office asked for help to establish a program of marriage enrichment, specifically for marriage skills, in Spanish. The first year will be used to train bilingual couples in the EverMore in Love skills course.
These three programs were chosen, said the DuPonts, because they provide meaningful outreach in areas now lacking and are sustainable after the grant monies are used. The programs will help achieve one of the goals set out by the archdiocesan pastoral plan, or mutually shared vision, of helping all parishes establish a comprehensive marriage ministry.