• Marriage Preparation
    Frequently Asked Questions
    Courses and Content
    Seminars in Preparation for Remarriage
    Workshops for Leaders/Facilitators of Marriage Preparation

For further information and brochures regarding any of these services, contact Annmarie Brown (phone 613-738-5025 x 217/fax 613-738-0130)


A. Some frequently asked questions:

We want a church wedding. How do we arrange this?
First, phone your local parish to arrange a meeting with the pastor or his assistant. He will explain the requirements for marriage in the church. He will also make sure that there are no impediments to your marriage in the church.
But, we're getting married in British Columbia&
Your local parish still has the responsibility of helping you with the necessary paperwork, the pre-nuptial inquiry, the premarital inventory and the marriage preparation process. Your local parish will forward all the documentation to the parish where you will be married. Ideally, you will get to know other young couples in your parish as you participate in the marriage preparation sessions.
Why do we have to do a marriage preparation course?
Marriage is a lifetime commitment. Most young couples are so busy with wedding plans and work that they often don't have time together to explore their hopes and expectations. Your faith community wants to provide this special time to help you deepen your relationship. Through the presentations, the reading material, and the discussion activities, Marriage Preparation offers you a chance to know yourself and your partner at a more intimate level - to be open and honest with one another. Couples are usually surprised at how much a well planned programme helps them to grow in their commitment to one another.
I've been married before. Can I get married in the Catholic Church?
This is a complex issue. The best way to deal with this issue is to meet with your pastor to discuss your situation. He will then be able to provide the necessary guidance. A special marriage preparation programme is available for couples in this situation. See Seminars in Preparation for Remarriage.

B. Courses and Content:

Parishes provide marriage preparation for their own parishioners using a variety of formats and programmes. When you meet with your pastor, he will tell you about the parish programme. Some programmes are conducted by team couples in their own homes over a period of five to seven weeks; others are held in parish facilities over a weekend. Recommended resource material include When a Couple Marries, and Evenings for the Engaged.

The Diocese also provides a few centralized programmes.

Topics explored include legal issues, communication, conflict resolution, growing in intimacy, sexual identity, natural family planning and attitudes to children, abuse and alcoholism, spirituality of married life, and marriage as a sacrament.

Seminars in Preparation for Remarriage:

A special programme is provided for persons in a new relationship who want to find out if this relationship may lead to marriage. It should be a remarriage for at least one of the two persons. Widowed persons, as well as those whose previous marriages have been annulled, may benefit from a number of issues raised in the programme, e.g., comparisons with the former spouse, stepfamily concerns.

In a small group setting of four to six couples, men and women deal with concerns and issues pertinent to (re)marriage. Under the guidance of a marital therapist, the couples delve into issues such as family of origin, helps and barriers to intimacy, communication, the impact of a "stepfamily" on the couple, questions about Church, declarations of nullity and the sacramentality of marriage.

This programme runs for six consecutive Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. twice a year. It is also offered at other times as required.

C. Workshops for Leaders/Facilitators of Marriage Preparation

Good presenters and facilitators are essential to an effective marriage preparation programme. A Marriage Preparation Leaders' Committee organizes workshops for couples interested in parish ministry. Presenters include couples experienced in this ministry as well as experts in specific areas, e.g., facilitation skills and communication, conflict resolution, natural family planning.

FOCCUS is a premarital inventory being introduced into the Ottawa Archdiocese. The name stands for 'facilitating open couple communication understanding and study.' Pastors or their delegates are given in-service sessions to prepare them for the use of this instrument.


The Marriage Encounter movement is active in the archdiocese. Usually two weekend programmes are held each year. The group also offers participants the opportunity to do follow-up or "bridging" sessions lasting about eight weeks.

A Marriage Enrichment Committee meets monthly to plan activities or programmes which will assist parishes in their marriage ministry. During 2001 a Marriage Enrichment newsletter is being sent to the parishes monthly (with the exception of July and December). Previous events included a special Couples Dinner for Two held near Valentines Day.

The Wedding Anniversary Mass held each year in early May provides an occasion to celebrate the fidelity of couples married 25, 40, 50, 60 and more years. Members of Worldwide Marriage Encounter assist with hospitality. The Archbishop is the main celebrant and homilist.


The TAWAW-MSDC Ottawa group of separated and divorced Catholics is a church support group within the Ministry of Separated and Divorced Catholics in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. The group is a member of the Ontario Region of the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics (NACSDC).

The purpose of the group is to provide healing, education, service and spiritual guidance to separated and divorced persons through a shared ministry of separated and divorced persons, religious and priests. The name TAWAW is a Cree name which was usually displayed at the entrance of tepees to convey the message: "Welcome, I share with you what I am and what I have." The word conveys the feeling of warmth and welcome, the message that the group is trying to promote. TAWAW extends a warm welcome to all separated and divorced persons of all denominations.

H.E.L.P. nites are held at 7:30 p.m., at the Diocesan Centre on the third Thursday of each month except July, December and December. These evenings begin with a guest speaker or other organized programme followed by refreshments and informal conversation. Both the chaplain and the Assistant Coordinator of Pastoral Services attend regular committee meetings to plan activities.

About three times a year a Beginning Again Weekend is held to assist those trying to cope with the dissolution of their marriages.

An eight week, small group programme (Recovery and Growth) provides a follow-up to the weekend experience. This progamme is led by an experienced counsellor.

During the year special liturgies and evenings of reflection are held. There are also regional conferences for separated and divorced persons.


Mandated by the Synod of 1993 to encourage the use of women's gifts in the ministries of the Church, the Diocesan Commission of Women in the Church serves English-speaking women in the Archdiocese and also serves as an advisory group to the Archbishop on a range of women's issues.

The goals of the Commission are the following:

  • to organize gatherings which focus on the changing role of women in the Church;
  • to help parishes and worshipping communities to offer inclusive liturgies;
  • to develop ways to support victims of violence and poverty;
  • to support and encourage women's participation in decision-making and leadership roles in the Church, especially in liturgy.

A small group of volunteers forms the Steering Committee which organizes events.

Resource material related to prayer, to issues of violence, and social justice are available through Pastoral Services.

Each parish is encouraged to have a representative to provide input, participate in activities and promote the role of women in their own parishes.


NAIM is a diocesan wide support group for the widowed.

Monthly meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. in Our Lady of Fatima Church hall, on the third Tuesday of every month, except July and December.

A ten week bereavement programme is offered throughout the year for persons coming to terms with the death of a spouse.


Individuals and couples seeking assistance in a variety of pastoral matters are referred to appropriate counselling, support services or programmes.