Couples planning to marry should check first with the diocese where they plan to celebrate their wedding to familiarize themselves with the guidelines specific to that diocese. Generally you should allow 8-12 months planning time.

Marriage Preparation

Marriage Preparation is offered to engaged couples desiring to base their relationship on Christ and His Church. Couples study and discuss the dynamics of Christian Marriage, Theology of the Body, relationships, finances, communication, and Natural Family Planning (NFP).

Couples wishing to enter into marriage preparation must email Father Michael Schmitz or call him at (218) 728-3757.

2015 Dates: Weekends for the Engaged

  • Duluth – February 24-25, 2017 – Register by February 7
  • Brainerd – March 5-6, 2017 – Register by February 17
  • Hibbing – April 1-2, 2017 – Register by March 27
  • Duluth – Six-week Series – Registration Deadline TBA
  • Duluth – June 2017 – Registration Deadline TBA
  • Brainerd – October 22-23, 2015 – Register by September 30
  • Hibbing – October 28-29, 2015 – Register by October 13

“We both went to CSS, and both wandered over to Newman to for mass and various retreats. Newman was an important part of Maggie’s conversion and David’s returning to the Catholic Church.”

David graduated in 2013 with French and Pysch, Maggie graduated in 2015 with nursing.

We currently live and work in Duluth with our newborn son Max, dog and cat.

Meet Austin and Nicole

“We did not attend school at UMD. Austin went to LSC and Mesabi Range, and Nicole went to St. Scholastica, However, Nicole stumbled upon Newman her freshman year of college. Our junior year when we started dating, Austin started coming to Newman as well. Austin went through RCIA through Newman and was confirmed into the Catholic church in 2015! We always found Newman very welcoming and made some friendships that will last a life time. We attended mass every Sunday and some weekdays. We also attended retreats and were involved in summer activities.”

Nicole graduated in 2014 with a nursing degree. Austin graduated LSC in 2014 with a degree in firefighting and Mesabi Range in 2015 with a paramedic degree. We currently live in Duluth and plan to stay, we love this city!

Meet David and Elizabeth

“We both went to Sunday Mass on campus, along with week day Masses and morning prayer at the Newman House. Throughout our time there we participated in confirmation retreats, retreats in Brainerd, and various other volunteer activities. I also served on the leadership team and as a Eucharist minister.”

David graduated in 2012 with a degree in Accounting and Finance. I graduated in 2014 with a degree in Hispanic Studies. We’re currently living in beautiful Rice Lake, WI!

Meet Sarah and Jon Harvey, Married June 30, 2012

Sarah – “We went to mass at UMD and Jon did RCIA through Newman with Father Mike. He was confirmed at the Cathedral in Duluth. We also did our marriage preparation with Father Mike and he performed our ceremony.”

Jon – UMD / UM Class of 2014, Med School

Sarah – UMD / UM Class of 2013, Med School

Both of us got our Medical degrees from the University of Minnesota with our first two years spent at the Duluth campus. Jon’s undergraduate in 2008, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Chemistry, and a minor in Psychology.

Currently Live:  Daytona Beach, FL for residency training and military commitment. We look forward to returning to Minnesota in a few years!

Meet Rachel and Anthony Greseth, Married June 16, 2012

Rachel – “The Newman center has played a HUGE role in our lives. We both attended RCIA at Newman which guided us into joining the Church! In addition, we had involvements with household, bible studies, and speedball among other things. We are forever grateful to Father Mike, Heather, and all who played a role in supporting us through our journey in so many ways.”

Rachel: UMD, Class of 2011, BAS Psychology

Tony: UMD, Class of 2012, BS Computer Science

Currently Live: Duluth, MN

Meet Nicole and Jonathan Brinkman, Married August 12, 2012

Nicole – “Involved since sophomore year.  Joined a bible study and led one.  Attended mass and conferences.   Jonathon got involved Junior year.  I introduced to Newman along with other mutual friends.”

Jonathan – “Yes, then got involved in a Bible study and also led a Bible study. I went through RCIA and confirmation through UMD Newman.”

Graduated:  Nicole May 2012- Jonathon December 2012

Degrees: Exercise Science (Both)

Currently Live: Fargo, ND

  1. How were you two involved at Newman when you were students at UMD?


Both Emily and I (Ben) were students at different colleges. I went to a Lake Superior College and an online college. Emily went to the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Before I met Emily, I occasionally went to church at UMD usually when I didn’t want to get up in the morning. At the time I was dating a girl who was not Catholic and did not think it was important to go to church. Often times I chose to hang out with her instead of going to church. My sister told me I had changed. She said I was not as fun to be around. She also told me she felt I was neglecting the person that God has wanted me to be. That conversation with my sister was a wake up call for me. I knew I needed to be better for my family and for God. I began going to Mass regularly at UMD. I also started to attend the Catholisim 101 Course, which was held at the Newman Center. In those classes, I learned how I need to change my lifestyle to become what God has called me to be: a husband to my future wife. I later began talking with Emily at my home parish (St. Lawrence in Duluth, MN). We fell in love through letters we wrote to each other while I was at basic training. I left for basic two weeks after Emily and I had first started talking. Being apart for nearly 6 months at the beginning of our relationship was hard. Looking back on those 6 long months, we realized that even though it was difficult starting a relationship hundreds of miles apart, we grew closer to God individually and together. From the beginning we centered our relationship around God.  When I finally got to come home, we began to go to church together. We continue to attend mass together at UMD and our home parish of St. Lawrence.

  1. What years did you graduate? What were your degrees?

Ben graduated:

May 2011 from Lake Superior College with an Associates Degree in Fire Technology and Administration

January 2013 from Columbia Southern University with a Bachelors Degree in Fire Science

December 2014 from Mesabi Range College with an Associates  Degree in Paramedics

February 2017 from Columbia Southern University with a Masters Degree in Public Administration

Presently attending North Central University pursing a PHD in Business with a Concentration in Public Administration


Emily graduated December 2016 from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and a Concentration in Special Education

  1. Where do you currently live?

Hermantown, MN


Our address if needed is 3669 Okerstrom Rd. Hermantown, MN 55811

  1. Please send us a photo of your wedding, and a new photo of your family as well.

We do not have any new additions to our family at this point.


Would you also be able to include the story of your going to Rome before proposing?  That would be super cool…!!!


Prior to starting the story, I just want to tell you I proposed prior to going to Rome.


While we were in the planning stages of our wedding, I wanted to do something for Emily and the rest of our bridal party that was completely different and thoughtful. What I decided to do was take a trip to Rome and get our rings blessed and to get some Holy Water blessed by Pope Francis. I booked my flight to Rome and I also got in touch with a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) office that was located in Rome. They had reserved a ticket for me for a Papal Audience with Pope Francis for the date I was going to be there. General audience tickets are free when reserved ahead of time through the USCCB. When I reserved my ticket I asked how the blessing worked. They told me that only religious articles could be blessed and at the time the rings were not considered religious articles as they had not been blessed in our Catholic wedding ceremony yet. I was also told there is a special mass where Pope Francis blesses Holy Water but it was not for a while. Additionally, Holy Water is not sold in Rome so I could not bring some home for our wedding. As deflated as I was to learn this, I still had positive feelings about taking my independent pilgrimage to Rome. I had lied to Emily (my now-wife), her family and my family and had told them I was going to Texas for an intense training. I had made peace with my lie as I knew it was for the greater good and an element of surprise for them at the wedding rehearsal. I boarded the plane with only a backpack with a set of warm clothes, 11 rosaries, 3 crucifixes, 1 cross and my Iphone pre-downloaded with all of Father Mike’s homilies for the past two years. I got off the plane and boarded a train, which brought me to central Rome. From there, I walked to receive my ticket at the USCCB office. At the office, I was able to meet with a priest to go to confession, who at the conclusion of my confession, instructed me to be on the lookout for a saint who will reach out to me and assist me on my journey. As I walked toward the exit, I picked up a few rosaries to have them blessed by Pope Francis and give them to my children if we are blessed to have them. Everywhere I walked, I walked with Father Mike as I listened to his homilies, which was also a part of my pilgrimage: to get my mind, heart and soul ready to allow God in our relationship and marriage. I made my way to St. Peter’s square and went in a shop to purchase items for our family members for the wedding. After purchasing some gifts, I found a place to sit to hopefully spend the rest of the night in The Vatican City. At this time, I turned off my phone to save battery and also to pray the rosaries I had brought to had blessed for Emily and each member of the bridal party. I also prayed for each family that they may allow Christ into their lives every day. As I was finishing praying the rosaries, a guard had begun to secure Vatican City and was asking everyone to leave the area around 11pm. At this moment, I began to panic because I had nowhere to go, I do not speak Italian, and I was afraid for my wellbeing. I turned on my phone to listen to Father Mike’s homilies and I began walking. I walked all night up and down the River Tiber along the lighted path. I had walked past many statues of saints, however around 3 am, a statue of St. Catherine of Siena caught my attention. Later I found out she is one of the Patron Saints of firefighters (which is my profession) and other things I had been struggling in the confessional with. Around 5 am, I made my way back to the gates of the Vatican to stand in line to see Pope Francis. I arrived and found I myself 5th in line. We entered Paul VI Audience Hall (where the papal audience was being held that day) around 8 am to start finding seats. As we entered the hall, it was a mad dash to get up front against the railing where Pope Francis would enter and exit. I was told that if I stood along the rail I would have a chance to possibly shake hands with Pope Francis. I was fortunate enough to find a spot on the rail. The hall sat over 6,000 people. As more people entered the excitement grew. There were groups supporting their country’s flags and chanting phrases like “Viva La France”.  Even though I was by myself and no one near me spoke English, I felt right at home with thousands of others who shared my beliefs. As Pope Francis entered, the auditorium erupted in cheers. He made is way up the isle and shook hands with as many people along the rail as he could. I was lucky enough to be one of those people he shook hands with! Once Pope Francis made his way up to the front of the auditorium, the Papal Audience began. Daily readings were read and a special blessing was spoken in many languages. When a particular language was used, all of the people in the auditorium who spoke that language would shout with joy. The Papal Audience had ended after an hour of readings and blessings. I made my way back to the train station.  I noticed a church a block from the Vatican. I entered in the church and lit a candle for each family member who would not be able to make it to our wedding because they have passed away. I returned to the United States and kept my secret for nearly 6 months. At our rehearsal dinner, I revealed my story to everyone at the dinner. It brought tears of joy to Emily’s eyes, which was confirmation that the trip was well worth my time. Later that night, one of my groomsmen, who does not share my faith stated, “You Catholics. You would think by the reaction you received about shaking hands with the Pope, you had met Tom Brady.” As I evaluated this major understatement, I began to chuckle because I knew my trip had brought my wife and I closer to God.



Here is the link to our love story: