Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 12, 2001
Couples help plan improved marriage ministry
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — To make a marriage work is a Herculean task, but it is possible, more than 20 married couples agreed at a Nov. 3 workshop at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
With the hope of developing a support culture for the sacrament and vocation of marriage, couples from the city and rural areas evaluated the archdiocese's ministry to marriage.
They agreed that educating young people about marriage is pivotal. They decided to ask Archbishop Thomas Collins to look at how schools, together with families, can better address the issue.
Couples also agreed that support from the pulpit is crucial as well as couples' witnessing of what it means to be married Christians.
"If I look at all the pressing social issues, they get addressed (from the pulpit)," said Pat Merrick, a member of Good Shepherd Parish.
In his observation, marriage is rarely addressed in homilies. "Except maybe during Valentine's Day, the notion doesn't come up regularly."
Merrick said the archbishop should write a pastoral letter or something that encourages people to support and enhance married life.
He does not discount the fact that there is clerical support for ministry to marriage because many parishes have marriage preparation programs.
The people who experience that are the engaged couples, who participate in the program and the couples, who act as facilitators. "But that is a very small chunk of community who gets exposed to this, while the rest don't," he said.
"What we're saying is (marriage ministry) is for everyone. Those who come to celebrate Mass should hear the message, not just a select group of people."
John MacDonald, director of the archdiocesan Family Enrichment Centre, facilitated the workshop. In two weeks, they will give the archbishop their recommendations.
Elaine Merrick, together with her husband Pat, does marriage ministry in their parish and for other couples in the archdiocese.
Elaine said bringing the couples they work with to the awareness that they don't need to do it by themselves is important. "Turning for support is a positive aspect of a relationship rather than a signal of trouble."
Couple's honesty is another important tool in marriage prep, said Elaine.
Elaine, who has been married to Pat for 30 years, gives credit to the sense of family she received growing up as something that helps her marriage work.
"I learned unconditional love from my immediate family," she said.
Chantal Klein, 30, of St. Theresa Parish, said "walking the talk" is important in marriage ministry and in married life.
For her it is also important to have goals in the marriage - "for example, getting your child baptized or simply getting your work done."
"It is vital working together as a (husband-wife) team rather than doing it by yourself."
Marnie Jamieson, 36, of St. Alphonsus Parish said, "We need to pray more and reach out to people who are struggling and help them."
"Our help is not necessarily to give them answers, but to journey with them," added Jamieson, who has been married to her husband Mark for seven years.
What helped her marriage work is their "love of God, belief in Jesus and ability to accept that things are not always going to be roses."
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