witness-1Christendom alumna Mary-Rose (Lombard) Verret (’04) is setting new, exciting trends in diocesan marriage preparation, thanks to “Witness to Love,” a new marriage preparation ministry she recently founded, under the guidance of Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  A system to supplement diocesan marriage preparation, Verret’s “Witness to Love” ministry is drawing interest from dioceses across the United States, providing engaged couples with the tools to help their marriage preparation process become more fruitful, not only for themselves but their entire parish community.

This desire to help supplement current diocesan marriage preparation, and to foster a greater community life in parishes, Verret attributes to her Christendom education.

“Couples, nowadays, are becoming increasingly less engaged in marriage preparation. I sought to change that — a new, risky undertaking that Christendom gave me the confidence to do,” says Verret, who graduated with a B.A. in English from Christendom in 2004.

“Many people don’t have the skills to think outside of the box anymore, which is crucial if you want to bring change to anything. A strong liberal arts education gives you the tools, like the ability to think critically, that you need to not only think outside of the box, but to do so confidently,” she said.

verretAfter serving as a diocesan marriage preparation coordinator since 2005, Verret, who is a certified Prepare-Enrich Facilitator and Instructor, founded “Witness to Love: Marriage Prep Renewal Ministry” with her husband, Ryan, in Louisiana.

Seeing that many couples weren’t enthusiastic, or even interested, in a strong marriage preparation through the Church at her parish, she founded her program as a new means of helping engaged couples receive a witness of healthy marital love and family life, by allowing them to choose their own sponsor couples from their parish to guide them through the preparation process.

“Allowing couples to choose their own mentors makes them more comfortable in the entire process, and helps them take their understanding of what marriage truly is, and how it relates integrally to every aspect of life and to the Church, to a whole new level,” says Verret. “The mentor couple acts as a witness to love for the engaged couple, which not only makes their preparation process more fruitful, but helps foster a stronger community in the parish as well.”

Twenty-two dioceses are currently interested in Verret’s ministry, with four dioceses already implementing it in parishes. The greater sense of community that Verret seeks to foster through “Witness to Love” is inspired by the sense of community she witnessed at Christendom.

“The importance of community that I learned in my classes, and through the way that the professors interacted with us, enriched the liberal arts program even more,” she said. “I always looked for these qualities later, and when I found that many parishes were lacking in this same sense of community, I wanted to fix this.”

“Witness to Love” is currently establishing itself as a non-profit organization, with Witness to Love: How to Help the Next Generation Build Marriages that Survive and Thrive, written by Verret and her husband through St. Benedict Press, being released this summer. To find out more about Verret’s ministry, please visit www.witnesstolove.org.

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