Civil Marriage Initiative

The Civil Marriage Initiative in the Diocese of Tyler is a response to Bishop Strickland’s desire that all couples receive the invitation to a sacramental marriage with Christ at the center.  As a diocese, we seek to accompany couples in civil unions who are seeking the sacrament of holy matrimony while also recognizing that their formation needs are different from those of engaged couples. 

Marriage Formation for Couples Seeking Convalidation 

Witness to Love Mentor Couple Program

In the Diocese of Tyler, couples in civil unions who are seeking the sacrament of holy matrimony are encouraged to participate in this formation program. A mentor couple will accompany them through the formation process over 3-6 months (usually 4 times prior to the wedding day) and they will go through the Witness to Love materials together. This program is very similar to the version for Engaged Couples but with fewer meetings. Witness to Love has been a very impactful experience for couples in formation for the sacrament of marriage in our diocese!

Marriage Formation Retreat

The Three to Get Married Marriage Formation retreats are offered for engaged couples and couples in civil unions seeking the sacrament of marriage.  These are weekend retreats that give couples the opportunity to put Christ at the center of their marriages. The retreat will cover important formation topics such as Communication and Family of Origin, but will also spend time with the treasures of our Catholic faith, such as the importance of prayer, the sacraments, Confession, and the Holy Eucharist. 

The Cana Project

For couples who are not sure where to begin their journey to the sacrament of marriage, the Cana Project may be a good place to begin. If someone has a previous marriage(s), or knows that they need to begin the annulment process, or simply needs to discuss the details of their situation with someone who can help, the Cana Project is a good place to start.   

Civil Marriage Initiative Resources for Parishes

The Office of Family Life will continue to provide clergy and parish marriage formation teams with the resources and information needed to best serve couples in irregular situations who are seeking a sacramental marriage.  We will continue to update this page with additional training and information regarding the Civil Marriage Initiative efforts in the Diocese of Tyler.  For more information about these programs please contact Deanna Johnston at or (903) 630-5055 Ext. 112. 

Civil Marriage Initiative Launches in the Diocese of Tyler

In May 2020, the Office of Family Life hosted a live-stream workshop on outreach to couples seeking a sacramental marriage. The online event featured conversations between Bishop Strickland, Mary Rose Verret (co-founder of Witness to Love), Fr. Gavin Vaverek (Canon Lawyer), and Deanna Johnston (Director of Family Life). This video is a good starting point for parishes who are wanting to implement the Witness to Love Civil Marriage Initiative formation program within their parish.  For more information about implementing this program in the parish please contact Deanna Johnston or visit