The Word Among Us

September 2018 Issue

A Little Coffee and a Lot of Jesus

How and why Witness to Love got started.

A Little Coffee and a Lot of Jesus: How and why Witness to Love got started.

The Witness to Love program began with kitchen table conversations at a house in Cajun Country, in Southwest Louisiana. Founders Ryan and Mary-Rose Verret saw a pressing need. Amid skyrocketing divorce rates, Catholic marriages were failing at rates near the national average. Traditional pre-Cana workshops and Engaged Encounter weekends needed help.

Mary-Rose and Ryan asked themselves what had helped their own marriage. They realized that marriage preparation needed to include the efforts of the full Church community, especially married couples.

“The home is the missionary outpost of the parish,” Ryan says. “The home is a sacred space.” After meeting with their parish priest, they received a challenge: to create a program that brought together both parish life and home life.

This was no small task! They starting writing the book after dinner or bath time or in sessions from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. “A little coffee and lot of Jesus” got them through, Mary-Rose says.

The book was a practical guide that immediately spoke to people. Both she and Ryan are convinced that their greatest contribution was leaving room for the Holy Spirit. They didn’t set out to create a work of “high theology but of very practical virtue.”

The resulting program was first used in just a couple of parishes. That grassroots effort quickly spread by word of mouth from priest to priest and couple to couple. Today, Witness to Love has spread to seventy dioceses across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the Philippines.

Ryan and Mary-Rose have talked about building an office for the program adjacent to their home. But for now, the whole operation is still run from their kitchen table. “We’re one little domestic church,” Mary-Rose says, “working with domestic churches all over the world to help bring God to his

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