Theology Lecturer awarded funding to research marriage preparation courses

Dr Clare Watkins of the Department of Humanities at the University of Roehampton has been awarded £46,000 funding by the Plater Trust to undertake a new research project in collaboration with Catholic charity, Marriage Care.

Posted: 4 March 2015

image for news story Theology Lecturer awarded funding to research marriage preparation courses
Dr Clare Watkins (centre) with Sue Burridge, the Head of Policy and Research at Marriage Care and Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols receiving the funding at a ceremony in London on Thursday 26 February.
The research project carried out by Dr Watkins will investigate couples’ and practitioners’ experience of marriage preparation courses provided by Marriage Care as a way of discovering more about what the Catholic ethos of the charity contributes to this work.

The project will look into how Marriage Care’s approach to marriage preparation helps couples understand what the Church teaches about marriage and family life and learn the skills and behaviours needed to build a healthy, lifelong relationship. She will also explore what challenges there are, if any, for people of Catholic faith who lead marriage preparation courses.

Dr Watkins will host a series of interviews and run focus groups with people who take part in marriage preparation courses, including those who are Catholic and others who are not. She will also interview course leaders and clergy.

This data will then be reflected on theologically, and brought into dialogue with the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family. The results will help Marriage Care develop its service, allow for a review of its marriage preparation materials and contribute to the present debates around marriage and family in the churches and in wider society.

The Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family is coming under renewed focus at the highest levels. Last October saw the Pope convene the Extraordinary Synod on marriage and family in Rome, which is to be followed this October by the Ordinary Synod on the same subject.

Dr Watkins joined the University of Roehampton in 2014 and currently teaches on the Ministerial Theology FdA-BTh. She is an expert in Contemporary Roman Catholic thought and the doctrines of church and sacraments in particular. A co-originator of Theological Action Research, Dr Watkins has contributed widely to the area of practical theology and now serves as the Chair of the British and Irish Association for Practical Theology (BIAPT).

The funding was awarded in a ceremony in London on Thursday 26 February. The project will run from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2016.

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