Mike and Shawn Hagstrom
Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota
When Mike and Shawn Hagstrom married in 1984, they attended marriage preparation classes that they felt were so impactful that just two years later they felt called to give back. For 33 years, they have donated their time, talent, and passion to the ministry of Engaged Encounter and Marriage Preparation classes in the Diocese of Fargo.
The marriage preparation seminar, which starts Friday evening and concludes Saturday evening, is designed to assist engaged couples as they begin their process of forming a community of life and love. It includes activities, presentations, assignments, large group discussions and couple interactions.
The Hagstroms are both teachers, and they bring these professional skills to the seminar to help attendees learn and begin to implement their important lessons. They cover topics in the seminars that are essential to building strong Catholic marriages, including foundations and expectations of marriage in the Catholic Church, basic beliefs of the Church, financial management, sacrament and spirituality, communications and conflict resolution. They each bring their own talent to this ministry. Although they share the same passion for helping others prepare for marriage, they differ in their approaches. Mr. Hagstrom brings a generous helping of humor to the classes. Mrs. Hagstrom is quiet, sincere and has a very warm and welcoming personality. This combination helps the young couples feel comfortable and engaged throughout the seminars, allowing them to focus on the lessons and each other.
Together the reviews they receive from attendees are consistently positive. One common response is that the example of their own marriage is such a strong witness to the love of Christ in their lives that it inspires the attendees in their own faith and future marriage.
"Mike and Shawn Hagstrom have been exceptional in helping with the Marriage Preparation program not only because of their knowledge and passion for marriage in the Catholic Church, but because they live their life by example,” said Jenny Korsmo, the director of the office of Marriage and Family life for the diocese. “They practice what they ‘teach.’”
As a vocation to holiness, married couples have the task of witnessing to God’s faithful love to each other, their children and society. The marriage preparation classes are a foundational block for building faith-filled families and strong parishes and communities in North Dakota. Over 10,000 marriages have taken place in the Diocese of Fargo since 1985. Mike and Shawn Hagstrom have mentored at least half that amount during their marriage preparation classes. With so many couples and families helped through their generous guidance, their legacy will last for years to come.
In their own three decades of marriage, they have chosen to help others in a way that brings people closer to God during a time they need it the most, when they begin the new journey that is the sacrament of marriage. “We not only believe we are helping others as they prepare for marriage, but we feel we are strengthening our own marriage,” they said