Good Day and may Jesus the Lord of heaven and earth bless you!

My name is Mrs. Lynda Scicolone and I am a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Springfield, MA. I am the creator and director of a 2 year old ministry in our parish. This ministry involves many segments of the parish family in praying daily for an engaged couple.

My husband and I have done Marriage Preparation work for the past 20 years (and are still doing so) in our parish. Two years ago I began feeling that the Lord wanted people to be praying specifically for engaged couples. After prayer and reflection I approached our pastor with an idea which he approved.

I am writing to you to share how this ministry works and to encourage you to begin this ministry in your parish.

The first thing you will need is someone to coordinate the ministry. This involves getting a list of upcoming weddings from your Pastor, making phone calls, sending out reminder cards and thank you cards.

On the Time Talent & Treasure form sent out by our parish there is a line which says "I am unable to be actively involved at this time but will pray for those who are."

I get the name, address and phone number of those that check that line.

I then call them and ask if they would be willing to say a daily prayer, at home, for an engaged couple in our parish. I stress that there are no meetings to attend - all they commit to is saying a prayer each day for one specific couple. They can say any prayer they want to.

If they agree I give them the first names of one engaged couple and their wedding date. I ask that they begin praying right away and continue up to the couples wedding date.

I then send each person who agrees to pray a card with the couples first names and wedding date on it and a Thank You for offering to pray for them.

On the couples wedding date I send each person who has prayed for them another card thanking them once again for their prayers.

I keep a list of all those who agree to pray and I contact them again to see if they would pray for another couple once their previous commitment is done. Most people agree to pray again for another couple and many ask me if it is all right to keep praying for those couples they previously prayed for. (Of course I tell them that is wonderful and encourage them in their generosity.)

When I started this ministry there were about 40 people praying. Now we have over 150 individuals involved. There are 27 marriages scheduled in our parish so far this year, which means that each engaged couple will have at least 5 people praying for them.

The ministry has grown in another way also. We have a K-8 school in our parish and each grade is given one couple to pray for. Many of the teachers have their students make cards for their couple. They give the cards to our Pastor who gives them to the couple after the wedding. Our CCD classes are also involved in the same manner.

This Ministry has the potential to involve all segments of the parish family. I have received much feedback personally and indirectly from those who pray. They are happy to pray and happy that they don't have to leave home and go to any meetings to be involved. This is especially true of our elderly and shut-ins. They now feel more connected to and needed by our parish.

Also the school children are receiving a sense of the way community works and how we are all connected as children of God.

Over my years of preparing couples for marriage I have seen an increase in those from broken homes and dysfunctional families - they come to my husband and I with little to no experience of seeing marriage work. Also our culture has become less and less supportive of marriage. All this takes its toll. I believe that prayer is needed to strengthen engaged couples and help them prepare for married life.

We have seen weddings canceled and/or postponed. Though that happens sometimes I believe that prayer support gives couples the courage to call off a wedding after the plans are made and the money spent. God's grace opens eyes and hearts. And on a personal note our daughter was one who canceled her wedding - which turned out to be a very wise decision.

I hope you will pray over the suggestion to begin a Catholic Parish Prayer for Engaged Couples Ministry. I believe that such a ministry assists engaged couples in countless ways, most of which are hidden from view, while at the same time strengthening parish life and giving glory to God.

If you have any questions I would be happy to communicate with you. E-mail: blestiam@aol.com

Please share this e-mail with others such as your Pastor, Parish Council, Family Life Office, etc.

Thanking you for your kind attention to my suggestion I remain,

Yours in Christ, Lynda Scicolone

PS If a Prayer for Engaged Couples Ministry is started in your parish please let me know.

This Ministry is dedicated in loving memory to

Bishop Leo E. O'Neil 1928-1997

Auxiliary Bishop of Springfield, MA

Bishop of Manchester, NH

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