Prayerful Preparation – Building the Foundation

Fifteen Couples participate in Pre-Cana Classses

Fifteen engaged couples from the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh gathered at the St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, Pa. in March for two full days of marriage preparation.

Part I of the Pre-Cana Program, sponsored by the Office of Religious Education (ORE) was held on March 11.  Father Will Rupp, director of Spiritual Formation at Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius, led the opening prayer. Prior to starting the formal presentations, Deacon Dennis Prestash, who serves St. John the Baptist in Hawk Run, Pa. began with an icebreaker to help the couples relax and get acquainted with each other.

The first presentation given by Father Will and Deacon Dennis was titled: “Why a Church Wedding?” As Father Will explained, to grow in your marriage, “…you need to pray together in church and in the home. Be nourished with the great gift that Christ gives you.  The closer we come to God, the closer we come to each other.”

“Elements of a Healthy Marriage” was the topic presented by Chris and Amanda Singel, who are life-long Byzantine Catholics and members of Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in McKees Rocks, Pa.

Amanda encouraged the couples to focus on what is important to them and to make time to reconnect, talk, have dinner together and to keep their communication alive. Chris talked about the strong connection between emotional health and a strong marriage.

In closing, Chris referred to the Apostle Peter. He was perhaps the most flawed apostle, yet Jesus didn’t see Peter as he saw himself. We, too, are flawed people who should turn to forgiveness instead of guilt.

Part II of the Program was held on March 25. Father Thomas Dansak, a pastoral minister of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh who also has bi-ritual faculties within the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh was the first presenter of the day. He addressed the topic

“Communication, Forgiveness & Intimacy, “ using a PowerPoint presentation, which was informative and very relatable to the couples.

Some additional points he shared with the couples:

  • Make a promise to “continue dating” after marriage.
  • Intimacy is the ability to feel extremely close to someone not only physically but emotionally.

“Finance and Budgeting” was the topic presented by Mark and Sandy Collins.

Mark is an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Sandy has a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and currently teaches Sacred Scripture at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary.

Mark and Sandy have been married for 33 years and are the parents of three daughters. Mark and Sandy “dug right in” and began their presentation by talking about the five leading causes of bankruptcy. They presented to the couples several scenarios involving money issues to see if they agreed on how they would solve or deal with the problem. Mark and Sandy made the following suggestions:

  • Be honest with your own emotional/monetary beliefs and share them with your spouse.
  • Think about and decide together: Will you have separate or joint bank accounts?
  • Ultimately, whatever system you choose, it is your responsibility to make it work. Archpriest Dennis Bogda, rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral, presented “The Theology of Marriage/Crowning Ceremony.” The couples gathered in the nave of the Cathedral to listen and learn about the Byzantine Tradition of the Crowning Ceremony.

The couples, some of whom were not familiar with a Byzantine Wedding were eager to hear Bogda thoroughly explain the Crowning as well as the Theology of the sacrament. In addition to the presentation, Archpriest Dennis conducted a mock ceremony with one couple, making it easier to understand what they will experience on their wedding day. The Pre-Cana Program concluded with each couple receiving a certificate of completion signed by Archbishop William Skurla.