Hosting Living in Love in Your Parish


As a parish based program, the success of Living in Love depends on the active support of the Pastor, Parish Staff, and lay parishioners, but since Living in Love is fundamentally a peer ministry of married couples, it is intended to surface and empower lay leadership rather than be an additional burden on the Pastor and Parish staff. Much of the administrative responsibilities can be delegated but the enthusiasm and leadership of the Pastor and Parish Staff is a key factor in getting Living in Love up and running on a self-sustaining basis.

The initial parish event is the Living in Love Retreat Workshop for married couples. We know that you will be thrilled with the impact the retreat will have on individual couples and on the parish as a whole.
This web page provides access to resources that will help you to be successful in planning and hosting Living in Love.


The Living in Love Retreat Workshop can be conducted with relatively short lead time if there is a strong core group of couples commited to the experience. Otherwise, we recommend a three month window for planning and recruiting. As a help, we offer a document entitled “90 Day Timeline” for your consideration that outlines some of the decisions that need to be made early on and suggests a effective planning timeline for advertising and publicity.

90 Day Timeline (PowerPoint)

The very first thing to do is to select a date and coordinate that date with the Pastoral and Matrimonial Renewal Center (PMRC). To see dates that are already scheduled, go to the Events page of this website. We can staff multiple weekends on the same date, but it may create problems if too many parishes want a weekend at the same time. Contact the PMRC at 610-640-4015 or email us at

Pick a date that suits your parish community and does not conflict with other significant parish activities, one that will appeal to your target group of participants. The PMRC will provide the facilitating team for the initial Living in Love retreat and then work with couples who experience that weekend to develop local couples to lead future weekends.

Back to Top


There is no substitute for a personal invitation when encouraging couples to take time out from their busy lives to nurture their relationship. Most couples just have too much on their plates and need a good reason to prioritize attending a retreat over their own or their children’s weekend activities. They may be hesitant to do something for themselves, but they will do it for a priest, close friend, or out of a desire to serve the parish by working with the engaged. The more personal the invitation, the better.
It is incredibly helpful to have parishioners who have already experienced Living in Love to be able to invite their friends or speak publicly about their own experience of the retreat.

The priests of the parish be extraordinarily effective if they will speak from the altar about the importance of strengthening marriage for the sake of the church and the children of the parish and then follow up with a personal invitation to those couples who have an affection for them or who are key people in the social and ministerial life of the parish.

We recommend Pulpit Talks and Targeted Mailings in addition to all the normal bulletin announcements and parish advertising. A letter from the pastor and a followup phone call from a married couple who has benefited from Living in Love is generally a very successful approach. If there are none or only a few couples in the parish who have experienced Living in Love, The PMRC can assist with followup phone calls if the parish provides list of couples to contact.

Here are a number of sample letters for targeted recruiting as well as sample bulletin announcements and a pulpit talk outline that can be tailored to the needs and people of the parish:

Recruiting Letters:
Broad Parish Mailing (Word)
Newlywed Mailing (Word)
Prospective Mentor Mailing (Word)
Talking Points for Follow Up Call (Word)

Pulpit Anouncements:
Pulpit Announcement by Lector – Long (Word)
Pulpit Announcement by Lector – Short (Word)
Pulpit Announcement by a Couple (Word)
Full Vision Living in Love Pulpit Talk Outline (Word)
Pulpit Talk Sample 1 (Word)
Pulpit Talk Sample 2 (Word)
Pulpit Talk Sample 3 (Word)
Ideas for Recruiting at Mass (Word)
Sign for Registration (PowerPoint)

Bulletin Anouncements:
Bulletin Announcement- Long (Word)
Bulletin Announcement- Short (Word)

Publicity Materials

The PMRC can provide colorful and professionally attractive advertising materials to assist in the recruiting process. We will be happy to provide copies of our Living in Love advertising Brochure upon request at no additional expense. To view the Brochure or order copies, click on the appropriate following links:

Poster (Pdf)
Living in Love Brochure (Pdf)
Order Program Brochures

We will also work with the parish to tailor a one-page Registration Flyer to the specific parish event. The PMRC can provide a PDF version for local printing or if necessary, provide printed copies. Contact the PMRC at 610-640-4105 or to discuss specific wording and facility details.

Parish Specific Registration Flyer- PMRC handling Registration (Pdf)
Parish Specific Registration Flyer- Parish handling Registration (Pdf)

Weekend List

A weekend list needs to be created and maintained as couples register so that weekend materials can be provided and a count for the Saturday Night Dinner will be available for the dinner coordinator. If the parish handles the registrations, they should also maintain the weekend list. If registrations are handled by the PMRC (mailed in or online), the PMRC can maintain the list or forward the registrations it receives to the parish.
Please use the standard format excel spreadsheet to capture the registration information for each couple or priest and periodically keep the PMRC informed about the number of couples who have registered. The weekend list should be provided to the facilitating team the week prior to the weekend itself so that they can become familiar with the participant’s names and begin praying for them.

Weekend List (Excel)

At the conclusion of the weekend, the list should be emailed to the PMRC at
Once a couple has registered for Living in Love, they should receive a confirmation email that acknowledges their registration and provides any logistical or administrative information that they need to have. This generally includes specifics about the facility, time schedule, meals, mass and child care options if offered.

Since most people today have access to email, this is the most convenient way to communicate. However, if someone does not provide an email address it will be necessary to phone or communicate via regular mail.

The sample text provided through the following link should be tailored to the specific weekend and then simply copied into the body of an email and personalized for the recipients. If the parish is handling registration, the parish is expected to provide the confirmation emails. If the PMRC is handling registration, the PMRC will send out the confirmation emails.

Sample Text for Confirmation Email (Word)

Back to Top


Parish Responsibilities

In general, the parish responsibility is to provide a facility, coffee service, and the Saturday night dinner. Details on facility requirements and dinner planning are provided in the downloadable documents listed below. Depending on parish location, presenting team tavel and housing also need to be considered. The PMRC will work with the parish to minimize parish expense. In some cases, parishes assume more of the total cost, but in other cases, parishes pass the costs on to the participants. In any event there is a registration fee that covers the cost of the program and many incidentals.

Saturday Night Dinner

The Saturday Night Dinner on Living in Love is a special event for both the weekend participants and the parish community. It is intended to be a romantic interlude for the couples who have just experienced a poignant couple reconciliation, but it is also an opportunity for the parish to celebrate and honor the Sacraments of Matrimony there present.

The parish is responsible for the dinner and is encouraged to make it as special as possible according to the standards and experience of the local community. What is appropriate is established by custom and the financial resources of the parish.
The parish may choose to handle this similarly to other parish meal celebrations using staff or caterers that are familiar. Alternatively, the parish may ask a parish group like the Knights of Columbus or Teams of Our Lady to take responsibility for this concrete support of marriage in the name of the parish. If there are couples in the parish who have already experienced Living in Love, they will eagerly donate items like flowers, wine, desserts, or appetizers to make the meal more of a feast. They should also be invited to set up, clean up, and serve the meal. Often, someone who has made Living in Love will offer to coordinate the dinner. The active participation and involvement of parishioners makes the dinner an energizing and enriching community experience.

Every effort should be made to create a romantic atmosphere (candles, music) and the dinner service should honor the Body of Christ there assembled (tablecloths, china, and glassware) to the extent possible given parish resources.

Tables need to be set for 6 people (three couples) and round tables are preferred. See the diagrams below for a typical room set up using either round or rectangular tables.

The meal itself should include a meat dish and a vegetarian side that could suffice as a main course. Other starches (breads pastas, vegetables) are optional. Coffee service and dessert provide a welcome finishing touch. Wine is desirable and can be served or placed at the table. The meal does not need to be expensive but should be served with care. In some parishes the servers actually dress in white shirts, black slacks and bow ties. The more extras donated by the community the more special the meal can be without running up the cost. Entrees can also be prepared inexpensively by the community rather than purchasing from a commercial caterer.

Facility Requirements


Living in Love is normally held in Parish facilities and can generally work with whatever meeting space is available. A large hall is preferable but two or even three smaller rooms can work as well. We need a presentation area, a breakout area, and a dinner area.

Presentation Area

The facility needs a “presentation” area with chairs for each participant, tables for coffee and beverage service, snacks, and weekend materials, a lectern or podium for the facilitators, and some kind of sound system (microphone) either fixed or portable if the room is large. Chairs should be as comfortable as possible since participants will be sitting for 60-90 minutes at a time, and it helps to have at least some oversized chairs or sofas to accommodate pregnant women who might have trouble sitting on harder chairs. Every effort should be made to make the room feel like a “living room”. Coffee tables, end tables, lamps, plants and flowers all help to break up the room so that it feels more comfortable.

Breakout Area

Each segment of Living in Love concludes with a brief communal or meditative prayer in a breakout area separate but close to the presentation area. There needs to be a chair for each participant. These chairs will be rearranged during the course of the retreat and so, need to be easily moved. Folding metal, or molded plastic chairs are fine since participants do not spend a lot of time sitting in them. It is best if the breakout area is the same room as the presentation area but a separate room close by could be used.

Dinner Area

The dinner area is normally in a different room from the presentation area to minimize the noise and distraction of set up and clean up, but everything can be in one large room if necessary and if the room is large enough. Proximity to kitchen facilities is advantageous. The area needs to accommodate a buffet line and enough tables for the number of participants sitting three couples to a table. Round tables are preferred but rectangular tables can be used.

Weekend Supplies

The PMRC will provide all the materials necessary to conduct the retreat workshop and most of the hospitality items including continental breakfast (both days) and cold beverages. Other hospitality items such as styrofoam coffee cups are generally available from parish stores. Follow the link below to download a Supply Checklist that will identify all the necessary and optional items needed to run the Living in Love retreat. The checklist specifies which items will normally be provided by the PMRC and which are normally the responsibility of the parish. When the presenting team is not local to the parish, they will rely on the parish to obtain some of the materials normally provided by the PMRC, but the PMRC will reimburse the parish for these expenses.

Weekend Materials Checklist


Living in Love participants will normally attend a regularly scheduled parish mass on Sunday morning. This provides an opportunity for parishioners to be reminded that the retreat is going on and to see the impact the weekend is having on the participants. Because the first exercise is 90 minutes long, the ideal mass time is 10:00 am, but the schedule can be adjusted to work with 9:30, 10:30, or even 11:00 am. A 7:30 am mass may also be used if there is a value for ending the retreat as early as possible on Sunday afternoon. Some pastors desire to celebrate a private closing mass and this is a wonderful finishing touch, but using a regular parish mass avoids any additional burden on the priests of the parish.
It is highly recommended that participants of the retreat be recognized during the liturgy in some meaningful way. The priest might offer a special blessing for the group or call the congregation’s attention to their presence. The prayer of the faithful at every mass should include a prayer for the retreatants. See the links below to download suggested wordings that can be modified as the parish sees fit.

Prayer of the Faithful (Word Document)
Priestly Blessing (Word Document)

Sacramental Reconciliation

The Living in Love retreat includes a poignant reconciliation between husband and wife just before the Saturday Night Dinner. Some parishes and dioceses however, have a high value for also offering sacramental reconciliation. Depending on the availability of priests and the expectations as to the number of participants who will partake of the sacrament, the start time for dinner can be delayed until 7:00 pm and participants can be encouraged to receive the sacrament individually either prior to or following their husband/wife reconciliation.

Back to Top