by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — “You were never meant to go it alone.”
“Walk with other local couples (married 0-7 years) in laying a strong foundation for your life together.”
Thus reads a flier for the First Seven fall series, one of the archdiocese’s newest initiatives. It’s designed to encourage and support couples in the early years of their marriage.
In Topeka, the series is set to begin Sept. 14 with dinner at Christ the King Church, followed by monthly date nights — one at Christ the King and two at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church. A similar series will be held at Holy Spirit Church in Overland Park.
Piloted in 2022 at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park, the program was a result of a grant the archdiocese received from the Catholic Marriage Initiative.
In 2022, Brad Dupont and his wife Libby of the archdiocesan marriage and family life office, established the First Seven at Queen of the Holy Rosary with 10 couples.
“It was mostly focused on training the leaders,” Brad said, “training them so that they could do it this year all on their own after a year of good formation and training with us in the first place. It’s open to all couples married seven years or less, and certainly the more people the better.
“But one of our main goals was that the leaders are trained and formed and then they’re in a position the second year to really take off and do it on their own.”
“It’s based on the Evermore in Love immersion weekend, and [to qualify for the grant, it] needed to be some sort of new outreach or an expansion of an outreach. Our experience had been that we’d host marriage enrichment around the archdiocese. The Evermore in Love suite of programs is really popular, and it’s really effective, but we didn’t feel like your average newly married couple would look in the bulletin, see a weekend immersion retreat advertised and think to themselves, ‘That’s for us.’”
Scheduling an entire weekend, Libby said, can be difficult for couples.
“It’s a big commitment, and it’s intimidating to get people to commit to a weekend for anything.”
So, what they did was create an on-ramp to those with the date nights.
After the dinner, the First Seven series includes three date nights during which the Duponts share insights and guide couples through an exercise.
“It’s just kind of a little taste of what the couple will get on the immersion weekend,” Libby said.
Many couples, Libby said, who have participated in the Evermore in Love suite of programs have told them they’d wished they’d learned some of the insights or skills sooner.
“Why not give it to them sooner? There’s an opportunity with newly married couples to lay down those really good habits,” Libby said. “It just makes sense.”
For more information about the First Seven fall series, contact the office of marriage and family life at (913) 721-1570; send an email to Brad Dupont at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or go to the archdiocesan website at: archkck.org. The cost is $50 per couple for all four events. Scholarships are available.