About the Course

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Avalon Pre-Cana Marriage course; Information for Clergy.

The Religious and Spiritual section of the course.

Avalon has interviewed a number of priests for this program.

In our video interview with Father Peter McVerry, He describes the sacrament of marriage to be ‘a huge commitment to eachother, whereby couples reflect the unconditional, unwavering love of God to one another’.

When we interviewed Father John Hassett, Moderator at Lucan Parish, he described ‘a relationship’ as ‘faith’. He goes on to explain that while there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing to get married, the most fundamental factor is ‘faith’.. You would not get married if there was any ambiguity there.

Answering our question about ‘why do you think completing a pre-marriage course is important’, Father Hassett explained;

‘It is so important for couples to do this course, even if they have been together for 10 years and have children, there are always questions we haven’t yet asked. If you were to go on a solitary retreat, it is certain that questions directed at yourself would arise, and that is what the pre-marital course aims to do, to get couples off to the best of starts in their new marriage with a common understanding and goal’…

…‘You take time out to go to the pub and to work but often we forget to take sufficient time to talk about our relationships’…

…‘I have recommended that couples complete the Avalon course and the feedback that I have received has been 100% positive. It seems that as well as preparing the women in the relationship for the marriage, that it is also helping men to understand themselves better’.

Included in our pre-marriage, course we distribute a number of e-books for couples to read that help couples with understanding their faith.

Are premarital courses allowed to be completed at home?

The Catholic Church has an obligation to prepare couples for the Sacrament of Marriage and allows a number of various methods of marriage preparation.

Some courses are completed privately with priests or counsellors, some are completed online via Skype or a Webcam and some courses can be completed at home.

Once we are satisfied that couples have an adequate understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage, then we post out your certificate.

This analysis / review of the Avalon Home study course is undertaken from my perspective as a Family Therapist and Adult Educator.

The three DVD’s on the Social Construction of Marriage, Communication and Conflict, and the Key Challenges of Marriage are designed for use in conjunction with the workbooks supplied.

Combined with the bonus supplementary material this forms an authentic comprehensive and wide ranging programme for all contemplating marriage and indeed for those in long term marriages and partnerships who are willing to assess and re-evaluate their relationships.

The videos and bonus material in particular are rich in substance utilizing relevant experts and up to date research. These videos are fast moving, compact, succinct and engaging. I found myself wanting to use the pause button so as to slow it down, and so peruse the depths of the areas covered. The course covers a vast range of topics essential for marriage preparation including finance, relationships, love, sex, faith, spirituality, parenting and conflict. More importantly with regards to best practice for adult education, this programme fosters experiential learning by inviting each member of the couple to reflect on their personal experiences and to critically reflect on their assumptions.

The programme also takes a social constructionist systemic perspective appreciating that each member of the couple has values, beliefs and attitudes which they learned and developed prior to entering the couple relationship. These values and beliefs continue to be alive and well, and are thus consciously and often unconsciously brought into the couple relationship. Each individual’s past therefore offers the potential for great richness, possibility, diversity and conflict in the new couple relationship.

This is overtly a Catholic pre marriage course. The two PDF’s on faith and spirituality are rooted in the Catholic Church’s understanding of Marriage. The Church’s teaching on Marriage succinctly articulates how Marriage in the Church is seen as, covenant, contract, community, partnership and family. The Essence of Catholicism positions Christianity, the Church and Marriage in the context of “salvation history” and is grounded in a traditional orthodox redemptive theology.

For those couples who are not on solid ground in their relationship and open to change in their lives, some of the issues raised in this pre marriage course may be disconcerting. This programme is not for the ‘tinsel’, faint hearted, ungrounded, un-rooted couple. It is for those who want their relationship to blossom and who are willing to engage, by nurturing the roots and the ground of their relationship. Couples are invited to address straight direct questions including for example: attitudes and openness to talking about, money matters and financial

decision making, their personal attitudes to sex and sexual needs and desires, dealing with conflict and with in-laws and out-laws.

As a therapist who has worked with couples for thirty years I am particularly struck by the forthrightness of the worksheets that address learned old patterns of relating. e.g. “Where have you learned to argue in the way that you do?” Ways of learning to deal with conflict in one’s family of origin and unresolved issues from the past, ultimately affect each person and consequently the couple relationship. Genuine individual and couple engagement in this programme may well save hours of pain, torment and even separation in the future. More significantly it may help them to have life in their relationship, in all its fullness. This is not a therapy course. However it is therapeutic as it facilitates the possibility of allowing some breath and wind to blow into areas of life that have the potential to become tight and stuck. This will ultimately benefit the couple, and because it is a home study programme with no intrusion from an outsider, it can be done at the individual’s and couple’s own pace.

To quote Bateson an old sage from the field of Family Therapy, this programme has the potential ‘to introduce news of a difference that makes a difference’. The secret is that it is done in a light hearted, affable manner, that deals with serious matters and the news of a difference comes across as “not too different”. But this is the difference that makes the difference.

For this reason I strongly recommend this pre marriage course, as it has the length, breadth and depth necessary for transformational learning. This programme invites couples to engage in the joy, loveliness and messiness of relationships. This can also be hard work, but the programme ultimately invites us to enjoy being forever young and open to possibilities.

- Written by Liam Roe, M.A. S.T.B. Reg. F.T.A.I,. I.C.P. E.A.P. Family Therapist / Psychotherapist.

 

IRISH EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE

This document was approved at the June 2010 meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference in order to assist Bishops in their duty to ensure suitable preparation for the celebration of the sacrament of marriage.

Criteria for Courses of Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage

At the October 2009 General Meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference, the Bishops decided that any programme of preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage should reflect, both in its content and process, the Christian understanding of marriage and promote a positive attitude towards marriage at all times.

In accordance with the Church’s pastoral practice and discipline, the pastoral care and the prerequisites for the celebration of marriage require dedication on the part of all

involved in the preparation for sacramental marriage. The following is a list of criteria outlining marriage preparation course content and process of delivery which will offer couples the best possible programme of preparation.

1. Course content:

1.1. The sacramental nature of marriage should form the basis on which all other

elements are discussed. All topics covered should reflect a covenantal understanding of marriage within the Catholic tradition, which means a lifelong and exclusive commitment of the husband and wife to each other.

1.2. This means that the Catholic understanding and vision of marriage will permeate and be integrated into all elements of marriage preparation.

1.3. The spirituality of marriage will be a central part of the marriage preparation.

1.4. As well as drawing from human experience, the vision of marriage will be informed by sacred scripture, Gaudium et Spes, Familiaris Consortio, Love is for Life (issued by the Irish Episcopal Conference), http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=5276 Catechism of the CatholicChurch, and Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage (issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family).

1.5. The core elements of a marriage relationship should form the basis of any programme. These include: choosing the sacrament, family of origin, communication, conflict management, commitment, couples as parents, owning your sexuality and fertility awareness and well-being.

2. Course process:

2.1. The emphasis at all times should be on the couple and their needs. This should be reflected in the methods used to engage the couples throughout the programme. Time and space should be allotted for couples to discuss topics and issues that are personal. Where appropriate group discussion should be part of the process and couples should feel free to engage in any discussion as they desire.

2.2. The marriage preparation course should offer a safe space for couples, in conditions that offer the best possible opportunity for reflection and learning. If suitable parish facilities are available for marriage preparation programmes these could be used.

2.3. Programmes of preparation should be co-facilitated by a team comprising laypersons and clergy reflecting the collaboration between the laity and the clergy in promoting sacramental marriage.

2.4. Facilitators should be selected from within parish communities and have a clear understanding that they are acting as witnesses for marriage in their local communities.

2.5. All programme facilitators should receive the highest standard of training and this training should, ideally, be accredited by a Catholic educational institution.

2.6. Facilitators should engage in ongoing supervision and annual professional development training to maintain the highest possible standards.

2.7. The programmes should involve a minimum of nine facilitated hours of client contact and be multi-sessional. The multi-sessional aspect allows couples a period of reflection between sessions and the course to be delivered at a leisurely pace, which reflects current best practice in adult education.

2.8. The programme of preparation should comprise a maximum of twenty couples, to ensure best practice in group work.

2.9. Programmes of preparation should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that their content and process of delivery are of the highest standards and that the courses reflect the changing circumstances of couples coming for marriage preparation.

Full text directly quoted from

“Irish Episcopal Conference Criteria for Courses of Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage June 2010”

Attachments:
Download this file (Information_for_Clergy.pdf)Information For Clergy[Download PDF]130 kB

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The accountability factor

So how can Avalon tell that couples have actually completed the assigned work?

Well, we quiz you!

Once you have watched and studied the information on the DVD and filled out the provided workbooks, you are required to complete a quiz, testing you on the information that you have just learned. It is essential to send us the finished quiz in order for us to see if you have passed and then we can send you on your certificate! (And it is not possible to answer the questions unless you have done your homework!) We will also sometimes e-mail couples before we send out the certificates, just to see if you can answer a random question from the workbook…

Although we offer group courses all over Ireland, our research shows that couples can feel distracted and have inhibitions about discussing the more private, intimate matters when there are other couples just a few feet away. We believe that completing the course in the comfort of your own home allows you to work at your own pace, can give you more focus and privacy and all in all result in more bang for your buck!

We have found also that group sessions can be;

-       Rushed, what if the allocated time for the course is up and you still have questions?

-       Filled with other talkative, nervous couples who take up a lot of the presenters time

-       Time consuming, you would both need to book time off work

-       Costly, including paying for the session and travel costs.

We trust that the Church would not argue that this course format, which has only recently become available to couples like you, offers you the ability to really reflect on the meaning of your marriage from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

What about Pastoral Care?

If you have any questions after the completion of your course, or simply feel you need some more pastoral input, Avalon is happy to help via;

-       Skype

-       Telephone calls

-       E-mail

-       Or in person

On the condition that he would put his training and skills to good use, David Kavanagh’s third level education was financed by the Bishop of Ossory in Ireland. He currently plays an active part in the promotion of the sanctity of Marriage through his work with Avalon and he is also a respected systemic Family and Couples counsellor based in Dundrum, Co. Dublin.

 

Attachments:
Download this file (The_accountability_factor.pdf)The accountability factor[Download PDF]55 kB
See Inside Our Online Pre Marriage Course

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See Inside Our Online Pre Cana Course.

Course Videos

Video 1: The Sacrament Of Marriage - An Interview with Fr. Peter McVerry

Father Peter McVerry discusses how the commitment we make to eachother when marrying reflects the commitment that god has for us.

The Sacrament Of Marriage - An Interview with Fr. Peter McVerry

Video 2: Episode 1 The Social Construction of Marriage

David Kavanagh, a systemic psychotherapist, discusses a range of topics from ‘The history of Marriage’ to ‘The reasons people get married today’, ‘Equality in Marriage’, ‘What makes a Marriage work’ and ‘When marriages break down and the consequences of Divorce’.

Episode 1 The Social Construction of Marriage

Video 3: Episode 2 Communication and Conflict

Niamh Geaney and David Kavanagh touch on the topics involved in Communication & Conflict in a relationship. These topics range from ‘understanding communication’ and ‘communication between the sexes’ to ‘reflection time’ and ‘the main topics of arguments’.

Episode 2 Communication and Conflict

Video 4: Episode 3 The Four Key Challenges of Marriage

In this video, David Kavanagh and Niamh Geaney are joined by a group of experts in various fields. The discussions with these experts, including Dr. Philip Boyle (a fertility expert), Colette O’Leary (a wedding planner) and Trish Murphy (a psychotherapist) touch on a variety of different challenges that face modern day couples. Such challenges may be; ‘choosing our marriage partners’, ‘mistakes we can make as a result of family conditioning’, ‘Pornography’, ‘money matters’ and ‘positive parenting’.

Episode 3 The Four Key Challenges of Marriage

Video 5: Fr. John Hassett Interview

In this interview, Father John Hassett, Moderator at Lucan Parish, discusses the importance of ‘faith’. He explains the importance of trust in a marriage and how it is the most fundamental element to a lasting relationship. He also explains that while we often make time for our hobbies or friends, we often take our relationships for granted and may assume we already know everything there is to know about one another. Father Hassett then goes on to demonstrate the value of completing a pre marriage course, no matter the length of time you have been together.

Fr. John Hassett Interview

Video 6: Wedding Mass

David demonstrates what you can expect at the mass on your wedding day.

Video 7: Fitness Trainer

David is joined by Celebrity personal trainer, Siobhan Byrne to show you what you can do to get into shape on your big day.

Video 8: Wedding Planner

David chats with experienced wedding planner, Colette O’Leary about budgeting, and the benefits of hiring a planner to take the stress out of your big day, and getting married abroad.

Video 9: Fertility Doctor - Couples and Fertility

Joined by David, Dr. Philip Boyle, a qualified and experienced fertility expert, discusses some of the issues that can arise when a couple are trying to start a family.

Fertility Doctor

 

Video 11: Solicitor

Lauren Martin, an experienced solicitor, explains to David what some legal implications are for Irish marital law are. She also discusses the expense of Divorce in Ireland and ways to avoid the huge fees involved.

Video 12: Financial consultant

Noel Morgan, a qualified financial consultant, talks to David about managing money, permanent health insurance, protecting your income, investment and getting the right life insurance for your family.

Video 13: Family psychotherapist

Rachel Henderson, hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, talks creative conflict benefits and ways to grow from it.
Anne Sexton, writer and feminist, displays conflict areas for couples, power issues within relationships and effects of presence or lack of money in the marriage.

Feminist and psychotherapist

Video 15: Nutrition

Paula Mee, Nutritional expert, explains to us the importance of being mindful about what we are eating, eating regularly and the overall importance of nutrition.

Video 16: Claire and John Beacon Hotel the secrets of a successful marriage

A man and a woman both in successful marriages disclose some of their success tips.

Video 17: Actors scenes

 2 actors portray a number of common arguments between couples. 

Video 18: Parenting

Trish murphy discusses the basics of parenting using useful examples. 

Video 19: Relationship consultant

Philip Wall, an experienced relationship consultant, discusses the importance of speaking with a consultant before marrying whether you have been together for 2 or 12 years. 

Video 20: How to avoid disaster

Sean Munsanje, an Avalon host speaks with Tara Fey, a Celebrity wedding planner, about how to avoid wedding disasters.

Video 21: How to ‘Be the best man’

 David Kavanagh discusses some key factors to consider when you are appointed ‘Best Man’.

Video 22: How to ‘Dressing the Bride’

Anne Gregory, a talented dress designer, discusses how to choose the right outfit for your shape.

Video 23: How to ‘Choosing a make-up artist’

Rhona Cullnane, celebrity make-up artist, chats to Sean Munsanje about choosing the right make-up artist for you.

 

Video 24: How to ‘Choosing a diamond’

Seamús Fahy, a local diamond expert, gives us his tips to finding the perfect diamond that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Video 25: How to ‘Dressing the Groom’

Anne Gregory, local dress designer, discusses the best way to shop for the groom and groomsmen.

Video 26: How to ‘Pre Marriage course’

David Kavanagh, a qualified systemic family therapist, explains just how invaluable a pre marriage course can be to your marriage.

Video 27: How to ‘Managing money’

Sean Munsanje is joined again by celebrity wedding planner, Tara Fey, to discuss monetary budgets for the wedding.

Video 28: Interview with Sharon

Sharon discusses with David her expectations of marriage versus the reality.

 

 

Only $155 Per Couple Click here to Order Pre Cana Course

Course Workbooks and PDF's

Workbooks for Her and for Him

PreCana Workbooks

 

Course Bonus Mp3

Relaxing Music - Mp3

Relaxing Music - Mp3

Essence of Catholicism audio book

Course Certificate Quiz

Pre-Marriage-Certificate-quiz

Our Experts and Presenters

 - is a systemic therapist with four years of theology training from Maynooth University.

Ruth O' Donnell - is a family therapy supervisor.

Father Peter Mc Verry - is best known for his tireless work with the homeless.

Father John Hassett - is the moderator of a parish in Dublin.

Anne Sexton - is a well-respected sex author and commentator.

Rachel Henderson - is a qualified Hypnotherapist.

Jonathan and Claire - are popular broadcasters and are have recently become parents with their respective partners.

Dr. Philip Boyle - is a fertility expert based in Dublin.

Tara Fay and Colette O' Leary - are two of Ireland's most well liked wedding planners.

Lauren Martin - is a legal expert and solicitor.

Noel Morgan - was an independent financial consultant.

Paula Mee - is a nutritionist who has her own busy consultancy in Ireland.

Trish Murphy - is a registered psychotherapist who specializes in sex therapy.

Siobhan Burns - is one of Ireland's top celebrity fitness coaches.

Philip Wall - is a relationship consultant with the Avalon Team and is trained as a Gestalt therapist.