Office receives grant to strengthen marriages


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SAN DIEGO — “Healthy marriages are critical to a healthy society and a healthy Church,” said John Prust, director of the diocesan Office for Family Life and Spirituality.

That’s why he is so “tremendously grateful” that his office has received a $15,000 grant to develop programs that will strengthen marriages.

“Studies have shown that churches that focus on marriage and relationship ministry not only strengthen their local communities, but also expand their reach as parish communities,” said Prust. “Nevertheless, only 18 percent of churches report having anything budgeted for marriage ministry. Our goal, at least in our diocese here in San Diego and Imperial counties, is to change that.”

The grant was awarded by the Catholic Marriage Initiatives (CMI) Fund, a donor-advised fund with the National Christian Foundation, which describes its mission as “Investing in Marriage.” The fund seeks to increase the number of high-quality Catholic marriage ministries nationwide.

The $15,000 is contingent on the Family Life and Spirituality Office providing an equal match. With the $30,000 to be spread over a period of three years, the office needs to raise a minimum of $5,000 to get started.

Prust’s grant proposal focused on meeting the needs of couples in their early years of marriage.

“We know how important the first five years of marriage are,” he said, noting that the average age of couples who get divorced after their first marriage is 30 years old.

He added, “It is critical for these couples to find in the Church a place where they can build a network of support, a place where they can continue to develop the skills necessary for a strong and healthy marriage, and a place where they can continue to lean into the Church’s beautiful vision for marriage and family life.”

In a letter to Prust, informing him that his grant proposal had been accepted, CMI Fund founder Dennis Stoica expressed confidence that, “by fulfilling the efforts as outlined in your Grant proposal, marriages will be strengthened, renewed and restored, giving children the important benefits of an intact family life in which to grow up and thrive in.”

Prust underscored that healthy marriages have ripple effects. Among them, he noted that married Americans are 51% more likely to describe their mental health as “excellent,” and Catholic children who grow up in an intact family with a mom and a dad are far more likely to continue as Catholic adults.

He said that, with the grant, his office will be able to pilot new initiatives for engaged and newly married couples in local parishes. The grant will “give us a nice little boost in this area,” he said, particularly by making it possible to provide materials to those pilot parishes that otherwise would be beyond the office’s budget.

“We believe this project presents us with an incredible opportunity and responsibility to build relationship ministries in our parishes that speak to the needs of singles, couples and families, while also growing their churches and transforming their communities,” he said.

To potential donors, he said, “Your support to help us get this project off the ground will lead to stronger parishes and might even save a marriage or two. The critical importance of keeping just one marriage from sliding into divorce – to their children, extended families and wider community – is difficult to calculate, but impossible to understate.”

To learn about how you can help the Office for Family Life and Spirituality raise its required $15,000 in matching funds, contact John Prust at (858) 490-8256 or

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