Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Lee Williams, Ph.D.


consortium, covenant, narratives, religion, Roman Catholic tradition, sacramental marriage, theology


This study interprets the stories told by eight couples about their experiences approaching marriage as a religious sacrament. The eight couples represented a purposeful sample selected using the following criteria: (a) They self-identified as having a sacramental marriage within the Roman Catholic tradition; (b) they appeared to be information rich sources who could provide an emic, i.e., an insider, view of the sacramental marriage experience; (c) they participated in the Catholic Cursillo movement; (d) they engaged in observable religious practices; and (e) they parented children. Research methods included guided conversation, participant observation, and a timeline activity that asked participants to plot their life histories, including significant marital and spiritual events, on paper prior to discussing the recorded events. Guided conversation was the principal research procedure. During conversations, the eight couples spoke openly about the meaning of sacramental marriage; the interaction between spiritual, marital and social dynamics; and the challenges and rewards of approaching marriage as a sacrament. Results of the study are presented in two forms: (a) reconstructed narratives of the couples' lives and experiences and (b) a more traditional social science discussion of emergent themes organized around the study's research questions. Key findings include the following: (a) faith was an all-inclusive paradigm by which the couples viewed the world and organized their lives; (b) service and ministry commitments expanded after a couple participated in a Catholic spiritual retreat; (c) ministry activities benefited each marriage; (d) faith, prayer, and an openness to change were common strategies to deal with life's challenges, and (e) the themes of covenant, consortium, and sacramentum appeared in the stories of each couple.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access