This story by Gina Keating was originally published in The Catholic Sun, the newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix.
When Catherine and Michael Clancy were engaged last year they had an unusual request for wedding guests.
“We asked them to donate to the Charity and Development Appeal. We had everything we needed,” Michael said. “Through us our family and friends were able to invest in us, and other marriages.”
The couple, who were featured in a CDA video for the engaged, are now newlyweds.
They both said they relished the time getting to know one another on a more intimate level through marriage preparation classes offered through the Diocese of Phoenix.
The diocesan Office of Marriage and Respect Life last year received $120,365 from the CDA to provide engaged couples with quality workshops and seminars that cover pertinent issues like conflict resolution, financial management and Natural Family Planning.
“It’s realizing what we’re called to — the sacrament of marriage — is living as a true witness as Christ is with His Church. As Catholics we know that, but we’re really preparing to live for that,” Catherine said.
The couple said the nine months of preparation is a “process not a checklist or hoops you have to jump through.”
“It’s the Church providing a fundamental period of discernment; praying, going to church and communicating with each other,” Catherine said, adding, “People should be excited and grateful it’s that long because you are discerning if this person will be your spouse.”
Fr. Ryan Lee understands the benefit of prayer as a guide for a big decision.
The parochial vicar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale celebrated his first year as an ordained priest June 11, and was featured in the vocations CDA video.
Fr. Lee said he is grateful for the generous contributions by parishioners to the CDA which last year granted $328,518 to seminarian formation.
It’s what allowed him to focus on his studies in the seminary.
“Without them there are no seminarians, no priests, no sacraments; and without sacraments, especially the Eucharist, there is no Church,” Fr. Lee said. “Their stewardship offering, their treasure and time and talents are vital for spreading the love and the truth of our faith.”
Carrie Aranda, CDA director, said the diocese is on track to make its $8.8 million goal by the end of June.
‘“The best way to tell what CDA does is to tell the story of those people whose lives have been changed by the CDA,” she said.
“You are making a difference in the lives of individual people, not giving to an organization but helping a mom with babies, a homeless man get back on his feet and young couples preparing for the sacrament of marriage.” Aranda said every dollar counts and by working together “we can make a big difference.”