Marriage & Family Life

As a diocesan community we recognise the amazing joy there is to be found in family life along with the challenges and difficulties it sometimes presents. Through different events and groups we work together to support a variety of activities which enrich life in the various fields of family life.

If you want to get in touch about anything Marriage and Family Life related, please contact our Formation Team Marriage & Family Life Advisor.

‘I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward.’

Pope Francis

Marriage Preparation

We recognise that discerning whether marriage is the right decision for you is an important process. Joining yourself to another person for life is supported not only through the grace of the sacrament but also an exploration of the skills you will need to make a solid start to this journey. Within the Diocese we offer a portfolio of different means of preparation which your parish priest will discuss with you when you first make contact with him. You are required to give a full 12 months’ notice in order that we can make the discernment process as fulfilling as possible. Pope Francis calls this an initiation into marriage.

The Journey from Engagement to Marriage

- Contact your parish priest to book the date and to complete initial paperwork to ensure there are no obstacles to your union.
- Book the reception venue, inform people of the date and complete other necessary legal requirements.
- Using the 'are you ready' document begin initial conversations with your partner.
- Attend the course that your parish or deanery provides.
- Make contact with your parish mentor, if you have been provided with one.
- Attend a series of regular discussions with the member of clergy who will officiate at the service.
- Make final decisions about the liturgy.
- Enjoy the first day of your life-long journey, your wedding day!

‘Young love needs to keep dancing towards the future with immense hope.’

Pope Francis

Marriage Enrichment and Support

‘At the moment of saying their vows, the couple does not know what will happen, nor what joys and pains await them. They are setting out, like Abraham, on a journey together, and that is what marriage is, Setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands. Hand in hand, always and for the rest of your lives.’ Pope Francis

A marriage needs nurturing and attending to. It might be worth considering marriage as a verb, an ongoing action that changes over time and requires careful consideration to keep it healthy. A good question to ask ourselves is ‘how recently have we given ourselves time to focus on each other and our relationship?’ Marriage time, time set aside each week just for you to spend together is precious and necessary for our marriages to thrive.

We encourage you to celebrate your marriage by inviting you to our annual Celebration of Marriage Mass. If this year has a special resonance for you for whatever reason please contact our team.

Grandparents’ Groups

Our parish-based Grandparents’ Groups provide an important opportunity for people to come together through prayer, learning, encouragement and friendship. Our groups are affiliated to the Catholic Grandparents Association and welcome everyone, including honorary grandparents, who play an important role in many families’ lives.

Our mission statement is: to pass on the faith, to keep prayer at the heart of family life and to support grandparents.

Most groups meet once a month after Mass and begin with tea or coffee. Each meeting offers an opportunity to pray, share news, plan events or days out, support one another, and reflect. We know that where two or more people are gathered together in Jesus’ name, He is there with us. While each of our groups is different, we have a common purpose; to enrich the lives of our grandchildren and help our families flourish in faith. We aim to keep prayer at the heart of family life so that our grandchildren will grow up aware of the goodness of God and His love for them.

Getting Involved

We have a growing network of Grandparents’ Groups with meetings in Horsham, Hastings, Effingham and Fetcham, Eastbourne, Thames Ditton, Woking, Frimley, Lewes, and Haywards Heath. With monthly meetings and three diocesan events each year: a pilgrimage to the Shrine at West Grinstead, a Nurture Day and an annual Grandparents’ Week celebrated in our many schools and parishes there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people and get involved. If you would like to find out more, please contact our Marriage and Family Advisor.


The following websites all have some great resources for enriching your relationship.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, marriages break down and finding support at that time is often difficult, Retroveille and Marriage Care offer support to troubled marriages. Restored Lives is a new resource that enables those whose marriages have ended to begin to rebuild their lives.