This book is written at a critical time in Catholic Marriage and Family Ministry with the unprecedented collaboration among the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers, the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators, the National Black Catholic Congress, the Black and Indian Mission Office, and Arusi Network. Though we are only at the ground floor of that collaboration, we are hopeful about its fruits.

We thank our many collaborators in ministry for their patience and encouragement. The writing of this book was delayed due to Andrew’s bout with Leukemia, which was diagnosed in August of 2015. Hospitalization, chemotherapy, and the effects of “chemo-brain” stalled our writing. Colleagues, clients, and friends encouraged us to get through the project of writing and getting this book to market.

Special appreciation and thanks go to our colleague and friend Kimberly Boyce Hagerty, who edited an early draft of the book.

Our parents, Andrew and Shirley Lyke and Perry and Zenobia Howard, through their lifelong marriages, created templates from which we were able to build a life with reasonable expectations for permanence. We stand on their shoulders.

We are grateful to the many God-couples who have touched our lives:

We thank the priests who have assisted us and given us pastoral guidance in our ministry work:

We thank the Family Ministries Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago for entrusting us with the important apostolate to marriage in the Black Community. Special appreciation and love go to Frank Hannigan, Director of Family Ministries, who hired Andrew to be the first Coordinator of Marriage Ministry for the Archdiocese. In that role, Andrew stretched his wings and grew as a servant leader. We thank the pastors in the Archdiocese of Chicago for entrusting to us the preparation and enrichment of their couples.

We thank the thousands of couples all around the United States we have served through the PreCana programs, Arusi Retreats, workshops, days of reflection, relationship coaching sessions, webinars, conference presentations, and leadership trainings. All are seekers of the Risen Christ, like us, who look for evidence of God in the love of marriage and family. It is our privilege to serve them, and we dedicate this book to them.

Finally, and most importantly, we give thanks and praise to God, who gave us the gift of life and invited us to share in the miracle of creation. We give glory and honor to God, whose Son gave us a template for being fully human in his life, death, and rising. The love we share is from God, whose Spirit has nudged us along paths we would not have traveled on our own. Through God’s accompaniment, arrangement, and direction, the symphony of our life is sweet, heavenly music. Thanks be to God!