In his Patrick Oration, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recently spoke of sharing the Gospel in familial form and fostering communion, formation and mission in our local communities, especially the family home—the ‘domestic Church’. At the heart of the domestic Church is marriage. Strong marriages form strong families, which are the cornerstone of community and social life.

But how can we support the married couples in our parish communities? One way we can do this is by offering couples the support and resources to strengthen their own marriages, and also the tools to equip them in building up other married couples. The Marriage Kit Leader Formation Program from SmartLoving is one tool being made available (free of charge) to all parishes in the Melbourne Archdiocese this April.

The Marriage Kit Leader Formation Program is for married couples who wish to serve their community by supporting other couples through the Marriage Kit experience. The program is designed to enable couples to experience the benefits of the Marriage Kit (an online course for couples to strengthen and enrich their marriage) while accompanied by other couples who are passionate about supporting and strengthening marriages and families.

Ongoing formation for Christians is a vital part of growing and living in relationship with Jesus Christ. Recently Pope Francis has spoken of the need for continual formation, particularly for married couples in what he calls the ‘marriage catechumenate’:

I reaffirm the need for a permanent catechumenate for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which concerns its preparation, celebration and the initial times that follow. —Pope Francis, 27 September 2018

Archbishop Peter picks up this theme in the Patrick Oration, stressing the importance of an apprenticeship in the Christian life chiefly as it relates to families:

[P]raying, learning and loving in a family setting will only flourish by personal practice; they can’t be outsourced to others or to a program or to some agency. It requires training, an apprenticeship, in the whole Christian life.

We have a way of doing this in our Catholic tradition—it is called the catechumenal way. The catechumenate is the ancient practice of the Church that allows for faith to resound in the heart of every family member, gradually, organically and cumulatively.

Our parish communities might best flourish by learning to embrace a catechumenal way, in households—communities of families—that foster communion, formation and mission.

Growing healthy marriages takes time and energy. Often couples, especially those with children, are time-poor and find it difficult to set aside time to invest in their marriage relationship. For couples and parishes looking to do something in the area of the marriage catechumenate, the Marriage Kit Leader Formation Program is a wonderful entry point and a way for couples to discern a marriage ministry in their parish.

The program begins on Wednesday 27 April. It is offered online and free of charge to all parishes in the Melbourne Archdiocese. For more information, visit SmartLoving’s Marriage Kit Leader Formation Program web page or contact Nathan Costin at