Following is Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn’s column from the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:
Help Turn a Good Marriage Into a Great Marriage
World Marriage Day at the Cathedral – February 14, 2010
By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
When I was a seminarian in Rome in the late 1970s, a New York pastor, Father Joe Champlin, who had been part of Marriage Encounter spent a year at the North American College. It was the occasion for me to first participate in Marriage Encounter. A few years later, in my “rookie” parish assignment I had the joy of gathering with three “M.E.” couples every month for prayer and discussion. For nearly three years we got together using a series of questions to write and share on our own relationships – with Jesus Christ – according to our vocations. Thirty years later I often reflect on those happy, sometimes challenging, get-togethers. What a blessing it was in my young priesthood.
About 800 weddings are recorded in our diocese each year, and our pastors and parish staffs do many things to help these couples prepare for the most important moment in their life together. Many couples have found and continue to discover, in Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a wonderful program of “ongoing formation” for marriage.
A Marriage Encounter Weekend is not a retreat, or a marriage clinic, or group sensitivity, or a substitute for counseling; but a time for spouses to rediscover their love for each other in a new way, and to invite Jesus Christ more deeply into their vocation: “to help turn a good marriage into a great marriage.”
With so many weddings each year, and because marriage and family are at the very core of human society, it is a wonderful benefit to have such an opportunity to deepen couples’ understanding of their vocation and sacrament. Husbands and wives owe it to themselves and their families – and in some ways – they owe it to the Church and society to become better, holier couples. This is clearly one of the goals and benefits of Marriage Encounter Weekends and follow-up programs.
In our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, we have an Office for Marriage and Family Life, under the direction of Deacon Ken Greene, to assist and coordinate opportunities to strengthen marriage. We also have a Diocesan Coordinating Team for Worldwide Marriage Encounter: married couple - (Deacon) Tony and Barb Zimmerman, and Father Ron Will, CSsP, Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in St. Joseph.
In the coming year we have four Marriage Encounter Weekends planned. The dates are provided here, and Tony and Barb, and Ken Greene would be glad to receive your reservation and answer your questions.
As bishop, and as a priest who learned something meaningful about married love through my participation with Marriage Encounter couples, I hope you will prayerfully consider taking this step to make your marriage stronger: in love with each other and with our Lord.
Inviting You to a Special Mass - For nearly 30 years, Worldwide Marriage Encounter has held an Annual World Marriage Day. This year our Diocese and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will celebrate a special Mass together on that day, Sunday, February 14, 2010, at 3:00 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. I plan to be there, as will Archbishop Naumann. We would like to invite not only all couples who have made a Marriage Encounter Weekend at some time, but also other couples, to join us in asking God to bless and strengthen your individual marriages, and also the sacrament and vocation of marriage in our community. I hope you will join us!
Marriage Encounter Weekend Dates for 2010
February 12-14 Branson/Springfield
April 9-11 Kansas City
October 15-17 Branson/Springfield
November 12-14 Kansas City
Contact: Tony and Barb Zimmerman at 816-741-4066
Deacon Ken Greene at the Diocese’s Office of Marriage and Family Life
Find out about Marriage Encounter at www.wwme4youandme.org