Priesthood and consecrated life aren’t the only vocations in the Catholic Church. It’s also a vocation to be married. Like Holy Orders, the Sacrament of Matrimony is a lifelong commitment that requires constant discernment, prayer, reflection, and hard work to be successful.
And, the readings this week make the permanence of marriage abundantly clear: “[A] man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mark 10:7-9). Because marriage like any relationship can be complicated and stressful at times, Saint Brendan offers a variety of ministries and opportunities to enrich the spiritual lives of married people.
For example, a faith-sharing small group specifically for married couples meets monthly to discuss the struggles and joys of marriage at all stages. “We have a couple who’s been married for just about a decade and a couple who’s been married for over 50 years, and we all come together to learn and grow from each other,” group leader Elia Gonzalez said. “There’s discovery at times, but also realization of how much we actually do know about each other.” As co-leader Angie Riordan remarked, “We find common ground in the struggles and successes of married life, and the small group becomes a support.” In addition, the group will be hosting an enrichment event for all married couples in the parish next year on February 9, called “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever After.”
Saint Brendan also hosts a local circle of a marriage enrichment program called Worldwide Marriage Encounter that focuses on helping good marriages become stronger. The initial step is a weekend experience where presentations help participants examine themselves, their behaviors and attitudes, and their relationship with their spouse and God. The weekends are geared toward couples who want to deepen their relationships with God and each other to become a stronger team rooted in faith and love. After the weekend, couples meet in small groups called “circles.” As parishioner Ivan Gallo said, “there is only one circle for the entire city, and Saint Brendan is the one hosting it. That says a lot about our parish!”
Saint Brendan also offers resources and support to an organization called Retrouvaille that helps hurting couples. Named with a French word that means “reunion,” the organization “was formed in the 1970s . . . because people quickly recognized that there needed to be a resource for people struggling in their relationship,” said parishioner Pat Fernandez, who is involved with the organization at Saint Brendan. Retrouvaille is a three-step process, involving a weekend retreat experience, a post-weekend program of twelve follow-up sessions, and a monthly support group called “core.”
Wherever you are in your marriage journey, Saint Brendan has resources and support for you. Just contact anyone on the staff and we’ll get you plugged in. Like any relationship, marriage is never easy, but always worth it.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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