"First5" Newlywed Ministry
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“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Matthew 19:6

 

Welcome to First5 Ministry at St. Monica Catholic Church. The First5 Ministry is a community of couples in their first 5 years of marriage. 

 

Our mission is to help build the foundation for lifelong, life-giving marriages. By focusing on supporting couples in their first 5 years of marriage with the tools they need to build spiritually fulfilling marriages, we hope to strengthen all marriages across the St. Monica community and beyond. Ultimately, our vision is to help couples help each other get to heaven.

 

Through First5, you and your spouse will be able to build on the lessons you learned during marriage preparation and share in the celebrations of your marriage. The first 5 years of marriage are full of new adventures and joyful times, but they can also be challenging in many ways we do not expect. We want to serve you and your spouse in this ministry to build community, share experiences, and celebrate God’s love for all of us. 

 

To strengthen the foundation of your marriage, the First5 Ministry has three core areas of focus: building fellowship with other couples, offering marriage formation, and facilitating spiritual growth. We offer this through a variety of activities including social events, speaker presentations, spiritual activities, and community service. 

 

Please email us at  with any questions. 

 

 Click here to sign up for emails 

 

About us:

St. Monica is a community blessed to prepare 150-200 couples for marriage every year. Our goal isn’t just to get couples married but to help them have great marriages. To that end, we saw the importance of continuing to help couples build upon the foundation they’ve created up to their wedding day.

 

The First5 ministry was originally formed in 2018. While COVID kept us away for a while, the ministry re-launched in January 2023. A team of young married couples and a professional coordinator leads us. Our meetings and events are actively being planned 2024 and beyond, and we are excited to hear more about how we can best serve your marriage. Here are some things to think about as you get connected with First5: 

  • How could this ministry benefit us in our own marriage?
  • What are our needs in our first five years of marriage?
  • How can we best serve other couples through this ministry? 

 

Upcoming Events:  
February: First5 Hosts Stations of the Cross 

Friday, February 23rd, 2023, at 7pm
Church and Grand Pavilion, St. Monica

  • First 5 Ministry hosted Stations of the Cross on Friday March 24th and the Fish Fry dinner.
  • If you'd like to volunteer to read one of the (pre-written) stations, please click the link below to let us know! 

first 5 hosts stations website slider

Click here to volunteer to lead a station

 

 

March: Marriage Madness Panel

Sunday, March 3rd, 2024 @7:00-8:30pm —Doors open at 6:45pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • Join us as we welcome three couples to a panel to discuss everything from communication to in-laws to finances and more. Bring your questions! 
  • We'll tackle all this and more. Join us!
  • Snacks and refreshments will be provided
  • Childcare available for $10/child— RSVP required by Thursday, February 29th to reserve your spot(s) 

march 2024 event flyer

Click HERE to RSVP

 

 

 

April: From Conflict to Connection 

Sunday, April 28th, 2024  @7:00-8:30pm —Doors open at 6:45pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • No matter what you're working on in your marriage, it requires communication. At some point, all couples face conflict. And it's not just about what is said, but also about how and when. Whether you feel like your communication is great and you'd like to bolster it or you'd like to improve your communication skills together, this event is for you. 

 

May: Physical & Emotional Intimacy 

Sunday, May 19th, 2024  @7:00-8:30pm —Doors open at 6:45pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • Sex consistently ranks as one of the top two reason why couple fight. It's an intimiate and important part of a marriage, but it's often considered taboo and rarely discussed. In this session, we'll talk openly and honestly about sexuality and other forms of intimacy from a Catholic perspective and how they can enrich your marriage.

 

June: Couples Retreat 

Saturday, June 15th, 2024  @8:00am-12:00pm

St. Monica Spirituality Center 

  • Come away for a few hours to strengthen your relationship through presentations, journaling, couple discussion, and small group sharing.
 
Past Events:  
February: World Marriage Day

Sunday, February 11th, 2024 after morning masses

St. Monica Church 

  • At the weekend masses, we celebrated World Marriage Day by welcoming all married couples to renew their vows and share a blessing for members of the St. Monica community 

2024 world marriage day webpage sider 1055 x 369 px

 
January: Social Hour 

Saturday, January 27th, 2024  @5:00-7:00pm 

Solidarity Restaurant | Santa Monica, CA 

 

webpage slider page 2

 
January: Couple Goals: New Year, New Us 

Sunday, January 7th, 2024  @7:00-8:30pm —Doors open at 6:45pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • Ring in 2024 with First5! A new year brings a fresh start. Reflect on the past year, discuss your marriage vision, and set goals for 2024 to growth and strengthen your relationship! 

 jan 2024 couple goals webpage thank you

 

December: Yours, Mine, Ours: Holiday Edition 

Sunday, December 3rd, 2023  @7:00-8:30pm —Doors open at 6:45pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • Navigating the holidays can be difficult for many couples. Whether it's visiting in-laws or blending old and new traditions, deciding how to celebrate the holidays can be daunting. Join us for a discussion on addressing family issues while still creating joyful memories with loved ones. 

dec first5 webpage slider without blurb

  

November: Service Event 

Tuesday, November 14th, 2023  @7:30-9:00pm

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • First5 Ministry joined the Young Ministering Adults (YMA) in support of our annual Thanksgving dinner and boutique event to learn about this important ministry that serves the unhoused in the LA area every year. 

nov first5 service event horiz flyer thank you 1055 x 369 px  

November: Faith & Spirituality in Marriage

Sunday, November 5th, 2023  @7:00-8:30pm —Doors open at 6:45pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavilion

  • First5 welcomed a panel of 3 couples with differing faith background to discuss blessings and challenges as we learn how to join faith backgrounds and create your own mutual practice of faith in marriage.

nov first5 event banner thank you logo

 October: Navigating Finances and Marriage 

Sunday, October 15th, 2023  @7:00-8:30pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavillion 

  • First5 ministry was joined by Dr. Michael DiPaolo and Financial advisor, Mike Borstein, to discuss the emotional and psychological aspects of money and shared pratical tips and strategies for navigating finances in marriage. 

october finance horizontal flyer  

June: Holy Hour Happy Hour 

Saturday, May 20th, 2023  7:30-11:30am

St. Monca Church

  • The First5 team attended "First Friday" adoration and then went to a local bar for drinks and food afterward. 

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May: Service Event and Brunch 

Saturday, May 20th, 2023  7:30-11:30am

St. Robert's Center

volunteer event at st. roberts center thank you

  

April: Movie Night 

Thursday, April 27, 2023 7-9pm 

St. Monica Grand Pavillion 

  • First5 hosted a marriage-themed movie night in the pavillion (complete with blankets, PJs, popcorn, and snacks!)

movie night thank you

March: First5 Hosts Stations of the Cross 

Friday, March 24, 2023, at 6:30pm
Church and Grand Pavilion, St. Monica

  • First 5 Ministry hosted Stations of the Cross on Friday March 24th and the Fish Fry dinner.
first 5 hosts stations final banner

 March: Marriage Madness! Event

Sunday, March 5, 2023, following 5:30 p.m. Mass.
Grand Pavilion, St. Monica

  • We invited three couples to a panel to discuss conflict everything from communication to in-laws to finances, and Q&A. 

 first5 ministry march event flyer 720 290 px

 

February: Event

Saturday, February 11th and Sunday, February 12, 2023
Church and Grand Patio, St. Monica

  • During and after Masses the weekend of Feb 11/12, we celebrated World Marriage Day with a vow renewal, a special marriage blessing for all couples, and coffee & donuts with the First 5 Ministry team. 

 world marriage day flyer 720 290 px

 January: Launch Event

Sunday, January 29, 2023, following 5:30 p.m. Mass–8:30 p.m.
Grand Pavilion, St. Monica

  • Learned about the First 5 Ministry, Introduced the leadership team and history
  • Discussed our marriage vision for 2023

first5 ministry event 1 homepage slider 1055 369 px 2

 

Meet the team:  
Dr. Michael DiPaolo (Facilitator)

Dr. D is a clinical psychologist and Imago Relationship Therapist in private practice in West Los Angeles.  A proud graduate of Notre Dame, Dr. D has helped prepare over 1500 couples for marriage in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. D met his wife, Jennie, in young adult ministry at St. Monica.  They have been married since 1999 and have three wonderful children and a hyperactive dog.

 

Flip Sanchez & Debora Milioni (Advisors)

 

jenny gabe cropGabe & Jenny Haggard

Gabe (a LA native) and Jenny (a Midwesterner) met while volunteering at St. Monica. They got engaged in July 2020, and Monsignor Torgerson married them in October 2021 in Jenny’s hometown of Indianapolis, IN. Gabe and Jenny happily enjoy married life and are thrilled to be a part of the First 5 team. When they’re not working or volunteering, they enjoy traveling, spending time outside, hosting parties, and trying the latest new restaurants. 

 

keith kristi crop

 
Keith Moynihan & Kristi Wisniewski Moynihan

Keith and Kristi met during Freshman year at the University of Alabama. After a year and a half of friendship, Kristi agreed to a first date. Ten years of dating/engagement and eight states later, they were finally married in June 2021. They enjoy cooking and cheering on the Crimson Tide football team together.  

 

 

katie gabriel cropGabriel & Katie Sayegh

Katie & Gabriel met while living and working in Detroit in August of 2016 and bonded over Disney, music, and their love of adventures. They quickly uncovered they would enjoy living closer to their families in LA, so they made that happen a year later. They got engaged in May 2019 on the beach in Santa Monica and were married at St. Monica’s by Msgr Torgerson in August of 2021. They love traveling together, volunteering at St. Monica's, and trying new food and wine anywhere they can. 

 

 
Clayton & Emily Smithemily clayton crop

Clayton and Emily first met in Washington, DC, in 2017. They moved to Los Angeles in 2019, adopted a German Shepherd-Husky mix, and began working at UCLA. They married at St. Monica in July 2021 and are excited to help lead this ministry. For fun, Emily and Clayton love camping, trying new foods, and cheering on the Fighting Irish. 

 

 

 

meg sayrge cropMegan & Sayrge Braccio

Sayrge and Meg met in 2017 in Nashville while pursuing graduate degrees at Vanderbilt, quickly bonding over a mutual love of coffee and being the youngest child. A very fortunate turn of events brought them back to Los Angeles and to Saint Monica's, where Meg's sister previously married. Sayrge popped the question on a beach walk in Carmel and they married at a nearby hotel in June 2022. They enjoy crosswords, reality dating shows, cooking, gummy candy and pickleball. 

 

 

 FAQs:  
  • Is there an age restriction to join First 5? 
    • No, we welcome couples of all ages!
  • Do we have to have gotten married at St. Monica Catholic Church?
    • No, we welcome any couples in their first 5 years of marriage to join the ministry. 
  • Who can we contact with questions?
    • Please email us at  with any questions. 
  • Can I bring my children to the First 5 events?
    • Yes! We will have babysitting available for you during many of our events. If you will need childcare, advanced registration is required. Please plan to bring $10 per child. 
  • Will we always meet at the same time/ place?
    • We are actively planning events for 2024 and beyond. Right now, we are planning to have an event once a month, but the time and date are likely to be different for each month. However, we are open to feedback and would love to hear what times/dates work best for you.
  • Do you offer virtual or hybrid meetings?
    • At this time, we are focused on creating an in-person community and would encourage you all to attend for the content and fellowship at each event. 

 

Sign up for our emails:  

 

 

Enter your contact information at the link below to stay up to date on all future events!

 

 Click here to sign up for emails!


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Mass

Mon–Fri, 7:00 am - Church

Mon–Fri, 12:10 pm - Church & Livestream 

Sat, 8:00 am - Church & Livestream

 

LENTEN DAILY MASS 6:00 p.m.

 

Sat, 5:30 pm - Church

Sun, 7:30 am - Church

Sun, 9:30 am - Church & Livestream

Sun, 11:30 am - Church

Sun, 5:30 pm - Church & Livestream

 

Outdoor seating is available at all weekend Masses.

 

Confession

Mon–Fri. 5:30–6 pm

Sat, 4:30–5:00 pm

There are no confessions on secular holidays or other observances when the parish is closed.

 

Holy Days & Holidays

Holy Days: additional Vigil and evening Masses, 6:30 p.m.

Holidays: single Mass, 9:30 am with no confessions

 

Eucharistic Adoration

First & Third Fridays: 7:30–8:30 a.m. & 7–8 p.m. · Church

Second & Fourth Sundays: Noon–3 p.m. · Chapel


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