Jean MacKenzie is a Regnum Christi member and a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She received her MA in Counselling from The Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1999 and has experience working with clients from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, presenting a wide range of issues. Jean is most passionate about marriage and couples counselling and believe that strengthening relationships strengthens the foundation of our society. Jean says, “I enjoy working with Catholic couples to help them have marriages that are both fulfilling and pleasing to God.” She has been married to Colin since 2001 and they have seven beautiful children.
Jean was first introduced to Regnum Christi through her father. Legionary priests would frequently visit their family home while she was a university student. She was introduced to the spiritual exercises and was involved with Regnum Christi for many years before associating. In Canada, Regnum Christi members were very geographically spread out, and she remembers more than once their gatherings were interrupted by a snow storm. However, in May 2006, Jean finally had the opportunity to join Regnum Christi. She has been an active member of Regnum Christi ever since and grateful for all the gifts of love, grace and growth which God has provided through her involvement.
The motivation to write To Know, Love and Serve: A Path to Marital Fulfillment
“The idea for the original To Know, Love, and Serve book was one that was on my mind for a long time before it came to fruition. I started working in private practice in 2004 and had always worked from a faith informed perspective. At some point in our marriage journey my husband and I read a book by Christopher West called The Love That Satisfies: Reflections on Eros & Agape. The book was a collection of reflections on excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est and I was struck by how much our relationship grew just by reflecting on the true meaning of love and God’s plan for love in marriage,” shared Jean. “Reading this book inspired me to develop a similar resource but one that integrated Catholic faith and psychology to help practicing Catholics strengthen their faith and their relationships so they could be strong witnesses to the couples they encountered in their lives. Though God had given me the inspiration, it seemed that, as a military wife and mother of 5 children, he had not given me the time or energy to follow through on this inspiration.”
During spiritual direction, Jean remembers, “the topic frequently came up and it was during this time that I learned an important lesson about myself, although God will place inspirations on my heart, he often wants me to collaborate with another one of his children to get the job done.” One day Jean’s guide asked her if she thought she needed to reach out to someone else to help her bring this inspiration to life and shortly after she connected with her colleague, Melissa Guzik, a fellow Catholic counsellor. Jean says, “She was as enthusiastic about the idea as I was.” Together, often with babes in arms and while Jean’s husband was in Afghanistan, they were able to combine the skills and inspirations God gave them and write To Know, Love and Serve: A path to marital fulfilment.
Jean shares, “Many Catholics will recognize that the title of our book is derived from the Baltimore Catechism’s answer to the question, “Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Famous marriage researcher John Gottman identified that building detailed love maps is an important factor contributing to strong marriages. Building strong love maps essentially amounts to developing an intricate knowledge of your partner. To me, this need to develop a love map is a reflection of our relationship with God. In order to love God, we must know Him and as we strive to grow in our knowledge and love of God, we grow in our desire to serve Him. Similarly, as we grow in our knowledge of our spouse, we grow in our ability to love him or her and our desire to serve our spouse. Essentially, this is what the To Know, Love and Serve program is about, helping couples to grow in their knowledge of God and each other so they can grow in their faith and strengthen their marriages.”
Military life took Jean away from Alberta and then back again. Upon her return, Fr. Todd Arsenault, LC, and the board of Vibrant Family Ministries, having heard of their book, approached Jean and Melissa about creating a workbook. Despite busy lives and many children, Jean and Melissa produced the workbook feeling convinced that the end product was fully a result of the grace of God.
How has this resource help married couples?
Jean and Melissa conducted an initial test group with a group of young couples from Ontario, Canada. Fr. Todd Arsenault had been running a group with these couples where they read and reflected on encyclicals and these generous young couples agreed to be guinea pigs for the new workbook. The couples met online and took turns leading the group every two weeks. Jean and Melissa joined them just to observe. The couples offered some suggestions for improvement but overall were enthusiastic. So they implemented the suggestions and sent the workbook to the publishers.
Since then Jean and Melissa have run an in person group at their parish and Melissa participated in a family camp in Quebec where they used the book and workbook as part of their program. Both groups responded positively to the program. Jean remembers one night for the group at their parish, both she and Melissa were sick and they left our husbands to run the group that night. Jean’s husband returned home that night and informed her that they had left them with the chapter on family planning which had them leading a discussion on natural family planning. Although their husbands were somewhat dismayed, Jean and Melissa were thrilled as they took it as more evidence that you do not need to be a mental health professional to lead the group.
A priest from Nigeria who was present at the family camp in Quebec decided to bring the program back to Nigeria, and some Regnum Christi members in Ontario, members of the Vibrant Family Ministries board, have started 2 or 3 groups.
Here are some testimonials from people who have read the book and/or the workbook:
“To Know Love and Serve” explores key topics and approaches drawn from the established body of marriage enrichment literature in the fields of psychology and counselling. Often faith-based marriage enrichment books will simply replay the main findings in this field and claim their Christian relevance through some scriptural proof-texting. “To Know, Love and Serve” transforms the treatment of these topics by making scripture and church teaching the key to unlocking their deeper significance for the marital journey. By leading with scripture, couples are invited to encounter Christ’s unique way of listening, communicating or dealing with conflict before reflecting on insights from psychology. “To Know, Love and Serve” also pushes beyond the standard treatments of topics in marriage enrichment to address the core dimensions of faith in the marital journey including spirituality, openness to life, new paths to intimacy, the faithful handling of finances, and our shared destinies in Christ. The title, ‘to know, love and serve,’ is normally understood to refer to our relationship to God. In this book couples are invited to begin to experience the deeper interconnections between our spiritual and nuptial call.
– Dr. Daniel Cere, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Religious Studies, McGill University
This Marriage Enrichment book touches on ten important domains in married life while emphasizing the importance of faith in the life of a couple. The book is based on sound scriptural and psychological information. Couples using the book will find the structure of the program helpful in reflecting individually and conjointly on their faith life. Each chapter contains beneficial educational material for healthy marriages and practical exercises couples will find useful in strengthening their marriage. Many of the resources listed in the course are ones that I use with couples in my own clinical practice. May this book be a source of hope, courage and strength for couples who use it.
– Timothy Shininger, LCSW, LMFT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Clinic Director/Owner, Comprehensive Counseling Services, LLC
You and your spouse are about to be richly blessed by this marital book! Jean and Melissa have prayerfully developed a unique program that brings together the spiritual tools and the truths of the Catholic faith with effective and practical marriage counseling tools. Drawing from years of clinical training and experience, they focus each chapter on potential problem areas experienced by most marriages. The book is framed in a helpful and easy to follow steps including prayers, scriptures, reflections, discussion questions, couple activities and recommendations for further study. I highly recommend this book for marriage preparation, marriage strengthening and for marriage repair and fervently pray that parishes and dioceses will adopt the program for their marital enrichment programs. God bless you!
– Ian Butler, MA, MTS, Executive Director of Holy Family Counseling Services Inc.
We loved reading “To Know, Love and Serve” every Sunday evening. The 10-week program was easy to fit into our lives, provided us with special time alone together, allowed for some important dialogue, and pushed us a bit further as a married couple. We really liked that there are numerous activities to choose from each week as we can do the book again in another year or two and it can be a different experience. The resources listed at the end of each chapter were excellent, some we had read and some we look forward to reading. The time commitment was perfect, not too long but enough that we actually felt connected and were able to pray, read and discuss the topics. We would definitely recommend the book to our friends! Great job Melissa and Jean!
– Pam and Eric Davey Edmonton, Alberta
This marriage enrichment book will help you strengthen your relationship with Christ, through your spouse. Anchored in Scripture and Church teaching, this program provides a holistic understanding of the person and marriage. The practical questions and resources provided dig into the standard topics but opens dialogue with a new perspective. The easy layout and flow of the program, backed by the years of counselling experience, makes this an ideal program for Catholic couples.
– Diane Rouleau, M.T.S., Former Associate Director, Office of Family & Life for the Edmonton Archdiocese
The To Know, Love and Serve Marriage Enrichment program is an easy, versatile, out of the box program that includes a book and workbook with an easy to follow, step by step format that makes marriage ministry easy to facilitate. One does not need any special training to run this program. It is possible for one couple to lead the program, or couples can take turns. It has been used for in person groups at parishes, online groups, and as part of a family camp, but someone could also host the program in their home, or as part of a larger program. Couples could also turn the program into more of a date night by getting dressed up and sharing a meal together. The possibilities are endless.
Some recommendations for anyone who might be interested in using this resource:
Jean and Melissa are happy to support any couples who are interested in facilitating the To Know, Love, and Serve marriage enrichment program They offer free online Q & A sessions for anyone who has questions they would like to have answered or support they would like to receive. They also have email, social media, and bulletin templates, posters and invitations that they provide.
Find out more on their website, knowloveserve.info.
Where can the book be purchased?