The Diocese of Des Moines

Marriage Guidelines

A wedding date is to be set no sooner than six months from the initial contact with the priest/deacon/pastoral minister preparing the couple.  Couples should begin their marriage preparation at their home parish by contacting the pastor.

Couples are required to participate in an educational process prior to their marriage/validation. Options available to meet this requirement are either a sponsor couple or a premarriage educational workshop. Sponsor couple marriage preparation is the preferred option.


Currently four marriage preparation retreats are planned for 2014. They are:

  • April 12th, 2014 at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 601 Grand Ave. in Des Moines
  • April 26th, 2014 at St Patrick's Parish, 223 Harmony St, Council Bluffs.  (Sacramentality day only)
  • May 10th, 2014 at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 601 Grand Ave. in Des Moines
  • September 6th, 2014 at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 601 Grand Ave. in Des Moines

Please register for classes on the diocesan calendar found on this website.

Additional assistance


In order to make marriage preparation as valuable as possible, the diocese makes an effort to address each couple's particular circumstances.  With this in mind, additional training and resources are available for sponsor couples who work with couples where one or both:

  • Pregnant or bringing a child(ren) into the marriage

  • Entering a second or subsequent marriage(includes widow or widower)

  • Seeking validation in the Catholic Church when there has been a previous marriage

  • Referred by priest/deacon/pastoral minister



When an engaged couple is civilly married but not Sacramentally married marriage preparation can be adjusted to better suit their needs.  It should be made clear that the couple is not seeking a blessing of the covenant that already exists, but is entering a new, sacramental covenant that has not yet taken place.  To better minister to these couples, the engaged couple should enter one of the following programs:

  • Work with a sponsor couple who is able to address the unique circumstance of a validating couple. The primary emphasis needs to be on the sacramentality of marriage.

  • When a couple has been in a civil union less than TWO years, FOCCUS is required. When the civil union has been longer than two years, REFOCCUS is recommended.

  • If the sponsor couple becomes aware that there are factors present in the relationship that may require further assistance, the priest/ deacon/ pastoral minister will be informed. He/she will then refer the couple to Marriage Ministry.

Natural Family Planning


Within marriage there is a moral responsibility to regulate procreation, but because of the dishonest and immoral nature of atrificial contraception, which has been confirmed in the constant teaching of the Christ and His Church, only natural means of regulating births are morally licit.  The following resources can help couples learn about Natural Family Planning, which is an effective and moral way to participate in God's plan for sexual intimacy:



            Fertility Services of Central Iowa:  Creighton Model FertilityCare System

            Teachers in the diocese:  Julie Craven:  515-554-5099 or
                                                           Michelle McKernan:  515-225-3261 or
                                                           (In Council Bluffs) Fertility Care Center of Omaha:  402-392-0842



            Couple to Couple League: Sympto-Thermal Method

            Teachers in the diocese:  Mark and Patty Conway:  515-245-3016
                                                           Kerry and Renee McGuire:  515-278-1623
            Billings Ovulation Method or Billings Ovulation Method USA



            Teachers in the diocese:  Betty McGehe:  515-240-2751
                                                           (Spanish in Council Bluffs) - Yolanda Bello-Bogdanyi 712-322-5378


Northwest Family Servies:  Symto-Thermal Method


Teachers in the diocese: Kristin Detloff (In Pella). More information can be found at                                         


Online courses are also available in English or Spanish through the Couple to Couple league and the Billings Ovulation Method can be learned online through Marriage Ministries.  Also, couples can learn the Sympto Thermal Method through Northwest Family Services.  


Home study courses are available in English or Spanish through the Couple to Couple league and through the Billings Ovulation Method.


For more information about NFP and NFP doctors and teachers, please visit the webiste One More Soul.  For more information about the NFP lifestyle, please visit the website Living the Sacrament.


For more local information, contact Adam Storey in the diocesan Marriage Ministry Office at 515-237-5056 or e-mail him at