By MEG WATERS     1/30/2024

The Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton, founder of the Family Rosary Crusade, coined the phrase, “The family that prays together stays together.” Despite all the pressures on marriage and family today, Fr. Peyton’s recommendations are more valid than ever.

Studies show that married Catholics who regularly attend Mass have among the highest rates of successful marriages and a lower divorce rate than the average couple in the U.S.

Several studies point out that if a couple wants a long-lasting marriage, putting God and their Catholic faith at the center of their relationship gives them the highest probability of success. Catholic couples, in particular, are most likely to enjoy an enduring marriage if they practice their faith.

The Diocese has participated in World Marriage Day since the 1980s to recognize and celebrate marriage. Last year, a special Mass and dinner was held in the Chapel in the Sky atop the Tower of Hope on the Christ Cathedral campus.


Approximately 50 couples attended, but the space could not accommodate many more who wished to participate.

Rafael and Nora Pintor were among the lucky attendees in 2023; they also serve as leaders for the Orange County Chapter of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

According to the Nora Pintor, “We recommend all couples attend this special Mass to celebrate their sacrament of marriage and be a part of marriage week. It’s a great way to focus and remember the importance of our vocations as husband and wife. And, if we bring our families, what a beautiful way to show them how families still honor marriage. Prayer is powerful, and the more couples pray, the stronger our relationships become.”

This year’s program, held in conjunction with the California Catholic Conference of Bishops’ “Radiate Love” theme, is designed to reflect the National Eucharistic Revival, “As a practical way to incarnate the grace of the Revival into our families and communities, the bishops of California are dedicating the 2024-2025 pastoral year to helping the Catholic faithful renew and deepen our lived experience of the Sacrament of Marriage – which is modeled on the irrevocable covenantal love of God for his people expressed in the Eucharist.”

This year, the special Mass will be held on Friday, Feb. 9 at the Christ Cathedral Arboretum beginning at 6 pm. The Diocese hopes the attendance will return to pre-pandemic levels with 300-400 couples participating. The celebrant will again be Bishop Timothy Freyer, and the ceremony will include a special blessing and renewal of vows developed by the California Bishops.

“The Marriage Celebration Mass is different from regular Mass in that it is full of faithful married couples who believe in marriage,” said Rafael Pintor.

“It is very inspiring to see. It helps to remind us that our marriage is a sacrament and God is with us on this journey.” Linda Ji, Director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese.

Her office has prepared a special “Date Night Kit” which includes prayers, a directory of nearby restaurants, discussion starters and activities for use at home or the restaurant.

“We are especially encouraging younger couples,” she said. “The Diocese will offer childcare until 9:30 pm after the Mass so that parents can enjoy a date night.”

Reservations are encouraged but not mandatory. Couples can RSVP at https://www.rcbo.org/ministry/office-for-family-life/

There is more information on the event as well as materials to help couples celebrate every day of National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14).

This year, after the Mass, the Pintors plan to enjoy their date night with other couples at a local restaurant.

“It is great that the Diocese organized the free babysitting for couples who have children and would like to go out and enjoy a dinner date on their own,” said Rafael Pintor.

St. Pope John Paul II often wrote about the importance of marriage as the “the family is the basic cell of society.”

In his Apostolic Exhortation, “Christifideles Laici,” the Pontiff said “The lay faithful’s duty to society primarily begins in marriage and in the family. This duty can only be fulfilled adequately with the conviction of the unique and irreplaceable value that the family has in the development of society and the Church herself.”

As we look around to see disorder and chaos in every layer of society today – working to achieve a holy and Catholic marriage can be the witness to faith that just might make the world a better place, one couple at a time.