Welcome to the Office for Marriage & Family Life!

The Office for Marriage and Family Life places itself at the service of parishes and families so that they can answer their call to holiness and help form communities of love and life in Jesus Christ. Our primary goal is to help families become what they are by realizing these four tasks:

  • Forming a Community of Persons
  • Serving Life
  • Participating in the development of Society
  • Sharing in the life and mission of the Church

Got Milk? Another Benefit of Dairy Intake

Over the years, studies have shown an increase in the number of diagnosed endometriosis cases. Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant (infertility).

The cause of endometriosis is unknown which makes it difficult to pinpoint treatment options that are widely effective. Women with this condition are given medication and/or surgical options depending on the severity of the disease.  These treatment options are provided after the condition is present but do not offer much assistance in reducing the risk.  

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology last month found that the

A study shows that milk has an unexpected benefit for women's health
A study shows that milk has an unexpected benefit for women’s health

intake of one additional serving a day can reduce the risk of developing endometriosis by 5%. According to the study results, the protective ingredients in the dairy product include the calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.  The amount of dairy fat did not seem to play a significant role in reducing the risk. It seems that these ingredients reduce the inflammation response that is associated with endometriosis and by reducing the inflammatory stress, the disease is also decreased.

The study authors did test if taking these ingredients in supplemental form provide the same benefits. Unfortunately, supplements of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D do not offer the same advantage.

This study should make the Dairy Council of WI very happy. Got milk?

His and Hers Approaches to Conversation

by Steve and Kathy Beirne

Mike and Lisa are driving home after an evening with friends. Mike says, “Dan tells me that he and Stacey are moving to Washington, DC.”

“How exciting! Will they be living right in the city?” Lisa asks.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say.”

“But Stacey is so involved in the elections here. Will she be able to continue with that?”

“We didn’t talk about that either.”

“Well what did he say?”

“He said they were moving. He has a new job,” Mike says, clearly closing the door on the conversation. He’s sorry he ever brought up the topic, and Lisa can’t wait to call Stacey to find out all the details. She’s mystified that Mike brought it up if he didn’t really want to talk about it.

Gender Patterns

Men and women communicate differently because they think differently
Gender Misunderstanding. Men and women have different structure of thinking leading to communication conflicts

Mike and Lisa’s impasse is one that you may have experienced in your relationship. Mike had a fact he wanted to convey—he was not intending to start a longer conversation and the direction it went was frustrating to him. Lisa wanted details. She wanted to flesh out the story with the “human interest” parts. These are patterns that researcher Deborah Tannen has observed in men and women. She published her research in her book You Just Don’t Understand. It helps to explain some of the situations many of us have found ourselves in as we try to navigate our interactions.

So What’s the Solution?

Certainly trying to be aware of the differences and that your spouse isn’t being annoying is a start. They are just speaking the way they learned to speak. If you feel frustrated, try to take a step back and figure out if this is one of those “his way vs. her way” conversations. The next time Lisa and Mike find themselves in a similar situation, hopefully they will recognize what’s going on. Mike might say to Lisa, “Sorry, honey, that’s all I know. Why don’t you call Stacey tomorrow?” and then steer the conversation in another direction. “How about those Orioles?”

Reprinted with permission from Foundations, a newsletter for married couples.   

Steve and Kathy Beirne have extensive experience in marriage and family education, catechetics, and marriage ministry. They are the editors and publishers of Foundations Newsletter, FACET premarital resource, and Catholic and Newly Married, an award winning book published by ACTA publications. They live in Portland, Maine, and are the parents of 7 children and grandparents of 5.

Divine Mercy – What is it?

The Sunday after Easter has been declared by Pope John Paul II as “Divine Mercy Sunday.” What a great time to learn more about the devotion to the Divine Mercy and the special day of Mercy the Church celebrates every year!

The devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus was given to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska in a series of visions she had of our Lord. Sister Faustina was an uneducated Polish nun. She wrote a 600-page diary about her visions at the request of her spiritual director. The message of the visions became very popular by her death in 1938, and devotion to the Divine Mercy began growing throughout the world.

Jesus’ Message of Divine Mercy

Jesus’ message to Saint Faustina was very much in line with what He taught in His earthly ministry.

Ask for Mercy: Jesus reminded Saint Faustina (and through her, all of us) that God is eager to forgive our sins, if we would only we acknowledge them and ask for His forgiveness. Jesus won infinite mercy for us on the Cross. But we need to receive that mercy – and to receive His mercy we need to ask for it.

Be Merciful: In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses (debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us (our debtors).” In His story of the unforgiving servant, Jesus makes a strong point that those who do not forgive cannot receive forgiveness. Mercy is love in the midst of suffering. To show mercy is to exercise love. To receive mercy is to receive love. If our hearts are hardened against giving love, how can they be soft enough to receive it?

Completely Trust in Jesus: Saint Faustina had an image made of her vision of Jesus. You’ve probably seen it. It’s a picture of Jesus with red and white rays shining from His heart and the words “Jesus, I trust in you” across the bottom. Trust is the most fundamental element of a relationship. Once we acknowledge our sins and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, we need to trust that He will forgive us – that His mercy is vast enough to keep forgiving us even when we continue sinning in our weakness.  In His love for us, Jesus wanted to strengthen our trust in Him and in His mercy.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

The devotion that sprang from Jesus’ visions to Saint Faustina is known as the Divine Mercy Chaplet. As devotional prayers go, this is a pretty simple one. But it is profound in its power. This Chaplet actually draws our hearts to all three parts of Jesus’ message to us. It calls us to ask for mercy through the words of the Chaplet. It calls us to bring others to the mercy of Jesus in its intentions. And it is a prayer of trust in Jesus’ mercy.

After an opening prayer, the Chaplet starts with an Our Father, a Hail Mary and the Apostle’s Creed. It uses a regular Rosary. On the “Our Father” beads, we say:

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our lord Jesus Christ. In atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

On the “Hail Mary” beads, we say:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole lot world.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday is a special day for the Church to recall the great mercy Jesus won for us on the Cross. It’s much broader than a day honoring Saint Faustina, though the Divine Mercy Chaplet plays an important role in the celebration.

Divine Mercy Sunday comes right after the Easter Octave, which ends on Saturday and it extends the Easter celebration. It reminds us again that we are celebrating Jesus’ incredible love for us on the Cross, His conquering sin and death in His glorious Resurrection, and the abundance of grace that flows out to us from His incredible act of salvation.

Fittingly, there is a plenary indulgence associated with praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet in a group or in a church (or in a group in church) on Divine Mercy Sunday. A plenary indulgence wipes away the “temporal punishment” for sin that remains even after we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If we die with no temporal punishment for sin, we will have no need for Purgatory. To get the Plenary Indulgence you need to:

  1. Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (within a week of Divine Mercy Sunday)
  2. Receive the Holy Eucharist (going to Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday fulfills this requirement)
  3. Have no affection for sin. This is a very ambiguous requirement for an indulgence (it’s standard for all plenary indulgences). It basically means that you’re far enough along your spiritual path that you no longer struggle with being attracted to sin. If you don’t think you’re that far yet, don’t worry. Make a firm choice that you hate your sin and want to conquer it, then trust in Jesus’ mercy.
  4. Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (this is usually part of the chaplet – you can dedicate the opening Our Father, Hail Mary and Apostle’s Creed to the Holy Father’s intentions).
  5. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet as a group (even your family) and/or in church with the intention of gaining the indulgence.
  6. Let grace and mercy flow!

Not a New Prayer

While Saint Faustina’s visions of Jesus happened in the 20th Century, the devotion to Divine Mercy isn’t new. We saw how Jesus’ message to Saint Faustina was a continuation of the message He taught during His earthly ministry. Likewise, the devotion itself is a continuation of the Church’s constant understanding of mercy. In fact, the image of the Divine Mercy is very close to the image for the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Both devotions are acknowledgements of Jesus’ love and mercy.

The Divine Mercy is also a very Eucharistic prayer. The Church talks about the special way that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist – “Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.” So the words of the prayer, “Eternal Father, we offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son our lord Jesus Christ,” are not used in isolation. They represent our participation in Jesus’ eternal self-offering to the Father, as we offer Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to the Father in atonement for sin.

Get to Know Divine Mercy!

The Year of Mercy is the perfect time to become more familiar with the powerful devotion to the Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Learn how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Even if you missed the Divine Mercy Novena (which started on Good Friday), download a copy and pray through the intentions.

Finally, learn more about Divine Mercy Sunday and the indulgence associated with it.


Celebration Season is here – putting Christ in each event

With the cold and snow behind us we hope we are gearing up for those times of sunshine and celebration in our lives and in the life of the Church. Be it a child’s First Communion, graduation, weddings or just a long awaited vacation, it is an important reminder to include our faith in these watershed moments.

Put Jesus at the Center of Your Celebrations!
Put Jesus at the Center of Your Celebrations!

The benefit of recognizing and using our faith lies in seeing where we have come from and how God has used the blessing, struggles and opportunities in our lives to bring about this celebration. Of course, the way in which we communicate to God is in prayer. In the life of our faith there are four basic forms of prayer: adoration (giving praise to God), petition (asking God for something), contrition (asking forgiveness), and thanksgiving (thanking God). It is important to keep these forms in mind when formulating how to involve God in one of these moments of celebration.

Here are a few examples of how include Christ in your celebrations:

1st Communion/Confirmation

    • This is certainly one of the most obvious ways to continue to make Christ part of the celebration. After the Mass, celebrate this great experience with a party and begin it with a toast and prayer for your child. Thank God publicly for deepening the faith of the child.


    • Consider purchasing a religious icon or sacramental to give to graduates as they go out to make their way in the world. A good example would be a crucifix for their dorm or a rosary for when they feel alone.


    • Solemnize your participating in the event with more than a toaster or alarm clock.
    • Give a parent’s or friend’s blessing by thanking God for them, praising Him for their union and petitioning God to provide them many years together.


  • Remember your Sunday obligation to utilize all four forms of prayer at Mass! Visit to determine the parish and mass times at your vacation location.
  • Use downtime in the car to pray together as a family with the Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy
  • End each day of your vacation by thanking God for the fun and relaxation you shared that day.

As Catholics it is always important to shroud ourselves in the culture of our Catholic faith. The great blessing and benefit of Catholicism is that we are not limited to only a place of worship, but are part of a great well spring of community and a bastion of love, mercy and celebration. Thus, when we participate in a celebratory occasion, it is always appropriate to be mindful of God’s purpose and presence in it.