Marriages of Grace was founded 13 years ago by Bill and Tanis Merimee to help strengthen Catholic marriages. Initially, the couple was invited to give personal testimony at a marriage enrichment event in Akron.
“We thoroughly loved the event and realized the potential it had to impact marriages,” said Tanis Merimee.
The couple had assisted for many years in pre-Cana ministry at the Jesuit Retreat Center and parishes throughout the diocese. Together they saw firsthand that there was a need for couples to be formed in faith prior to marriage. But they knew that more guidance could be given after the wedding, including prayer and help in living the day-to-day life of being a couple, building a family and having a marriage full in Christ.
The Merimees knew that if Catholic couples found themselves struggling in their marriages, they could turn to counseling services and Retrouvaille. However, there was not much in the middle for average married couples who are striving -- but maybe not always succeeding -- to live a vibrant, full and satisfying sacramental marriage. Thus, Marriages of Grace was born.
Since its start, the Merimees’ mission and ministry has seen abundant growth and was endorsed in the summer of 2019 by Bishop Nelson Perez. In a letter to pastors, the bishop encouraged parishes within the diocese to utilize the platform that Marriages of Grace provides to parishioners.
Between the annual marriage enrichment conference and bimonthly Cana Nights, the couple estimates 600 married couples have been reached and helped.
“Currently, this nonprofit ministry may only help through in-person encounters. Our mission is to extend that help. Our hope is that through the #weGiveCatholic day of online giving, our reach will be greater,” Merimee said.
Marriages of Grace has a target goal of raising $20,000. The funds would support developing new ministry tools such as a podcast and blog. In addition, donations would help offset expenses incurred at conference venues, including audiovisual and printing costs. The organization would like to bring in national speakers from across the country to future events. Monies raised from #weGiveCatholic will help with speaker fees, travel expenses and lodging.
Using the incremental donation model of $20 to $250 on its #weGiveCatholic webpage, the ministry group shares what it costs to help a single couple attend a CanaNight, a conference or bring in guest speakers and clergy to an enrichment event.
Through social media, targeted email campaigns and a sharing their mission of ministry via video, Marriages of Grace is embracing elements of digital media to help promote its participation in the 2019 #weGiveCatholic campaign.
“While this is our first year participating. We are really looking forward to seeing in real time on one day how individuals from our community find ways to help us in our mission. A little will go a long way,” Merimee said.
All are invited to make a difference on Tuesday, Dec. 3 for #weGiveCatholic. Visit weGiveCatholic.org to donate and support Marriages of Grace or any of the other 226 participating Catholic schools, parishes, Catholic Charities sites and programs, and Catholic nonprofits.
Search weGiveCatholic.org to see profiles of all participating organizations, and then go online to make donations from midnight until 11:59 p.m. on Dec 3.
To learn more or to donate to Marriages of Grace, visit the #weGiveCatholic dedicated webpage here.