By Antic Santosh, C.Ss.R –
There is a saying, ‘marriages are made in heaven.’ This may be true for some who find their soul mate and are married for life with their loved one. ‘Marriages are made in heaven,’ but undoubtedly are lived on earth. Worldwide Marriage Encounter is a movement that helps couples to live out their commitment of the profession of love they have vowed on their wedding day. The mission of marriage encounter is “to proclaim the value of Marriage and Holy Orders in the Church and in the world.”
Importance of Worldwide Marriage Encounter
The world today as ever before faces challenges and pressures of family life which affect the marital commitment. The reasons are many such as globalization, distance of couples working at different places due to job opportunities, an ever increasing world filled with inordinate competition, influences such as media and other external influences that affect the expectations of marriage and decisions of couples. There is an ever growing threat of individualism in our world that silently tip toes away our desire for companionship, friendship and intimacy. This leaves us in a state of loneliness thereby making our hearts subtly devoid of love and compassion.
In a world that is filled with professional courses for most aspects of our life and learning, a professional course for marriage and parenting are rare. On the other hand to live committed in marriages is tested, tried out, learnt from experiences and one needs models that rightly begins at home where a couple’s love becomes visible to the children and the world around them. There are enormous challenges to married life and commitment today. There are ups and downs, joys and sorrows, success and disappointments in marriage. Pope Francis said, “Marriage is not easy. It is never easy… but it is so beautiful… it is beautiful.” The most beautiful part is when a man and woman pledge their love for life. A movement like Worldwide Marriage Encounter helps to promote weekends to enhance growth and happiness in married relationships and make marriages ‘beautiful,’ and to make good marriages great.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter – A gift to the Church and world
Worldwide Marriage Movement is one of the gifts and blessing of the Church. One can avail a weekend to experience again the beauty of the sacrament of marriage. Worldwide Marriage Movement has changed the lives of so many couples all over the world. The movement had a humble beginning in Spain. A diocesan priest Fr. Calvo in his session with families of the Christian Family Movement introduced sessions on the outlines of our weekend and based on deepening marital relationships. This movement soon became very popular because of its relevance in the context of the country going through social change that threatened the Christian concept of marriage. Soon the movement then called the Encounter movement spread in the Spanish speaking world in the U.S.A. With the passage of time an English version was translated and gradually spread to many parts of the U.S.A and Europe. In the process, the concepts were deepened and better structured by professional teams under the guidance of the Late Fr. Chuck Gallagher to the format as we have it now under a new banner Worldwide Marriage Encounter to differentiate it from the original marriage encounter founder or mentor.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter India
In 1970, Fr. Peter de Sousa, a Redemptorist Priest who was sent to the United States for a course in Psychology and Counselling happened to do a weekend and was inspired to carry the dream to India. He came down with a young couple, Pat and Dick Lexandro with two infant boy children to initiate the movement in India. Bangalore was the hub from where the movement was carried to the other cities and towns across India. Later it was translated in the vernacular and now there are weekends in English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam and soon may be in Bengali and Telugu.
As part of outreach Marriage Encounter India has taken the dream to Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Dubai and Malaysia where the movement is growing. The loss of Fr. Chuck Gallagher & Fr. Peter de Sousa are a great loss to the movement but we only can thank God for the gift of them to us and their deep love to spread the values of Holy Matrimony and Priesthood in the Church and world.
Incidentally, Marriage Weekend is taking place in Bengaluru this weekend (Aug 25-27, — Friday-Sunday) at Vidya Deep College, CRI Brothers Institute, 128/1, Halasuru Road.
Contact for more information:
Bansy & Arathi: 87626 79901/99805 89350
Domnick & Nancy: 98809 90441 / 94809 98226
Grenold & Zenitta: 80957 07135 / 95384 58170
Nelson & Mary: 98860 59740 / 97422 03497
Importance of a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend
Couples and priests are invited to make a marriage encounter weekend which is set in a loving atmosphere. It is designed to help married couples communicate more intimately with each other in order to deepen and enrich their relationship. We all live in a very busy world, constantly on the move from on activity to another and very often do not have time for your spouse or yourself.
A marriage encounter weekend helps a couple to be together alone, to be away from all the distractions, to take time out, to focus on their relationship and to reconnect with the spouse. The effect of the weekend will leave a couple renewed in their commitment, restore communication and rekindle romance in their married relationship. The weekend fans the flames of the amber of love leaving a couple refreshingly all over in love again. At the marriage encounter we believe that a couple does not ‘need’ a weekend but rather ‘deserves’ a weekend because a couple is dedicating a weekend to enhance a most important and precious relationship with their spouse. It reminds how special a couple’s love is for one another and how strong they can grow together.
Continual Renewal of Love
A priest or a religious is also a part of the Marriage Encounter weekend. Just as a couple has made a lifelong commitment, so to a priest has made a lifelong commitment to the Church, the people of God. The sacrament of matrimony and priesthood are parallel sacraments. It deepens his relationship with his people as he encounters himself in the weekend and is better able to understand the struggles of his people, the joys and sorrows of his people and helps in communication at a deeper level.
When I did a Marriage Encounter weekend it changed my perspective of my priesthood, it helped me to grow in the conviction of being there for my people. Every weekend I have experienced, invariably at the end of the weekend I can find the energy and vibrancy of the entire atmosphere changed. It is an amazing experience that refuels and renews the love that God has placed in our hearts as Jesus himself says, “Love one another as I have loved you,” the love that Jesus showed by giving his life for his bride the Church.
At the end of the weekend love is rekindled and the joys of marriage and priesthood revived bringing hope and thereby to be open, apostolic and build up the people of God. Marriage Encounter couples share the incredible gift of their “couple power” to the world around. Worldwide Marriage Encounter hopes to reach out to many more married couples, priests and religious bringing Marriage Encounter to many more countries and dioceses. May God continue to bless the growth of Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
Fr. Antic Santosh can be reached on 94803 29146 and at email@example.com