Wednesday, February 6, 2013

JPII-Style Pre-Cana

Thanks to a reader, Stephanie, for asking to hear more about the pre-Cana book I'm writing.  Here's a short explanation of what the book covers and how it was inspired by John Paul the Great.  Let me know what you think!

Concerned about the ever-larger numbers of shattered families, Blessed Pope John Paul II strongly urged the Church to improve the quality of pre-Cana programs being offered to engaged couples.  He stated, “the Church must therefore promote better and more intensive programs of marriage preparation, in order to eliminate as far as possible the difficulties that many married couples find themselves in, and even more in order to favor positively the establishing and maturing of successful marriages.” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 66)

Inspired by the Pope's call, my friend Peter McFadden started a new JPII-style pre-Cana program for couples in Manhattan.  (See his website here.)  My husband and I developed the initial curriculum for Peter and taught the first few years of courses before we moved away to the suburbs.  What we couldn't find was a book to go along with the curriculum, so I started writing one.  After years of work, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Here's a summary of topics covered in the book.


1.  Theology of Marriage

2.  Openness to Life

3.  Parenting Special-Needs Children

4.  Educating Your Children

5.  Communicating with Your Spouse and Your In-Laws

6.  Families Serving Other Families

7.  Stewardship Over Your Finances

8.  Finding Meaningful Work

9.  Prayer and Imitation of the Holy Family

Each chapter of the book contains an explanation of Church doctrine supported by passages from the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and various papal encyclicals.  The chapters also include real-life examples from my own experience, and the experiences of my friends and family.  The book is intended to be accessible enough for individuals to read on their own, and informative enough to work as a text for a class.

Let me know what you think!  Are there any topics missing?  Did your pre-Cana program cover these topics in a way that you particularly liked (or disliked)?  I'd love to hear from you.


  1. This sounds so amazing, Karee! Number 3 is particularly close to my heart; my best friend has a beautiful one-and-a-half-year-old son with Downs Syndrome, and I know she feels alone or different in her parenting at times.

    In my (limited!) experience as an NFP teacher, speaker at engaged retreats, and as one of the first of my friends to get married, I've been asked fairly often about the practicals of transitioning from a chaste dating relationship to a chaste married relationship--so many marriage prep resources seem to talk about the theology of sex, but they don't touch as much on the practicals. I think a lot of couples could benefit from some candid advice from you, or from a list of resources where they could find that.

  2. Um, wow. I got nothin to add...but maybe I just need more coffee. Looks like you are off to a good start!

  3. Stephanie, thanks for your suggestion. I'll write a future post on that!

  4. Lol, Sarah Reinhard, you and your coffee! How many cups did it take to get your first book published?

  5. Serious illness - self, spouse, child, parent, or in-law.
    Sterility - and moral and ethical medical approaches.
    Foster children and adoption.

  6. Thanks to the anonymous reader who left a list of additional important topics relating to marriage and family. I was already planning on covering sterility, foster children, and adoption in the book. I hadn't thought about mentioning serious illness as a stand-alone topic, but I'll probably write a blogpost on it soon. I appreciate the suggestions!

  7. Karee, this is a very comprehensive list! The only thing I can think of - and you may be covering it in other chapters - is something around how to work it out when times get tough. In any marriage, there are going to be hard times that the couple experiences. It would be wonderful to read about the role your shared faith offers to help get you back on track.

    1. That's a crucial point, Jen! Our faith can help us through so many storms.

  8. Karee,
    I just wanted to let you know, I mentioned your new book in my daybook of today:

    Have a great weekend!