Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 19, 2004
Special day honours marriage as sacrament
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Edmonton Archdiocese will again mark World Marriage Day with a celebration of the virtues of marriage.
"This is an effort to really profile and raise the dignity of marriage, to honour and celebrate it in a society that has been especially hard on marriage," said John MacDonald, director of the Family Enrichment Centre and World Marriage Day coordinator.
"There is a lot against marriage out there and we are primarily looking to shine a light on an incredibly beautiful sacrament that is really at the foundation of the human society."
World Marriage Day celebrates the beauty of faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in daily married life.
The event is held in the Church around the world on the second Sunday of February each year to honour the lifetime commitment of husbands and wives.
The archdiocese will mark the event Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. with a Mass at St. Charles Church, 17653-112 St. Archbishop Thomas Collins will celebrate.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME), a ministry for married couples, is sponsoring the celebration, which will also include renewal of wedding vows, recognition of the most senior marriage and a reception at the parish hall.
Organizers are also planning several draws, including a draw for a weekend away for a lucky couple and a dinner for two at a local restaurant.
"The whole purpose of (this event) is to celebrate marriage," said Greg Gelasco, an Edmonton WWME leader. "There's got to be one day where you can celebrate marriage."
The idea of celebrating marriage began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1981 when a group of couples who were involved with WWME decided to encourage their mayor, bishop and governor to proclaim St. Valentine's Day as We Believe in Marriage Day. The event was so successful, the idea spread to other communities.
In 1982, governors of 43 U.S. states officially proclaimed the day and celebrations spread to U. S. military bases in several foreign countries. In 1983, the name was changed to World Marriage Day, designated to be each year on the second Sunday in February. In 1993, Pope John Paul imparted his apostolic blessings on World Marriage Day.
Gelasco said WWME has been sponsoring the day since the mid-1980s, when the archdiocese began marking it. "The idea is to get people to look at their marriage and to realize that it is a sacrament," he said.
"We are looking at really honouring the family and shining a fresh, healthy, hope-filled and joyful light on marriage, especially to counteract the (negative) press against the family and against marriage as understood by the Catholic Church," MacDonald said.
"It is to honour the sacrament of marriage and to give it the dignity it deserves in a world that seems to be disregarding it."
Some parishes will hold their own World Marriage Day celebrations, which MacDonald said is strongly encouraged.
"It's entirely up to the parish what they want to do but we are encouraging parish-based celebrations," he said. "It's our hope that over time all parishes in the archdiocese will celebrate marriage on the second Sunday of February every year."