Families Local

Series for newly married couples kicks off

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.”

Libby agreed.

“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: bdupont@archkck.org; or go to the archdiocesan website at: archkck.org. The cost is $50 per couple for all four events. Scholarships are available.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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