Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 4, 2007
Parish program aims to strengthen marriages
Sanctity needs to be preserved in the face of an indifferent society
"You must love and appreciate the other person, and give them freedom."
- Elly Schenkel
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Protecting the sanctity of marriage from a society that is often indifferent to it is the driving force behind a new initiative at St. Michael-Resurrection Parish.
About 10 parish couples met April 28 to discuss the breadth and scope of Date Your Mate, an idea of Father Roger Keeler to foster the vocation of Christian marriage.
Keeler tapped parish council chair Elly Schenkel, council member Merv Prediger and parishioner John MacDonald to brainstorm and then get the ball rolling.
MacDonald is associate director of pastoral care and life initiatives for the archdiocese, but his involvement with Date Your Mate is as a parishioner.
"We want to resource the married community," MacDonald said.
"The program is Father Roger's response to the need to resource marriages in the Church. He has always been very supportive of family and marriage as it is a sacrament of the Church. He wants to give it support from the faith community."
Keeler was interested in developing something that couples might like in the way of continuing to nurture and celebrate their relationship at any stage of the marriage.
MacDonald said the inaugural meeting included a young woman with a new baby. Her husband stayed at home caring for their three-year-old. There was a senior couple who have been together for some 60 years.
Schenkel has been married to her husband Wilf for 53 years. Their marriage has survived the loss of two of their five children.
For her, marriage and the family are precious.
"Marriage is a commitment that is associated with loving," Schenkle said.
"It isn't something you just think of emotionally because there are far too many things that happen. You must love and appreciate the other person, and give them freedom."
She said it's vital for partners to understand each other.
"It's important that a husband and wife socialize with each other so that they know what to talk about. There might be topics that they don't really want to hear. That happens. But we have to find out how the other person reacts."
The parish has developed an action plan for future meetings with a wide range of topics for discussion, including the spirituality of marriage, marriage problem workshops, communication skills, conflict resolution and natural family planning.
The group is looking at the possibility of bringing in resource speakers, having retreats or going out for a fun evening.
"A lot of people believe the Church's involvement is just marriage preparation and the wedding, and then the Church is finished. This is not true," MacDonald said.
Nourish the sacrament
"A sacrament is something the Church always wants you to enter into. Sacraments need to be nourished throughout life. There is a need for marriages to be supported."
The program will look at the morals and ethics of marriage in order to grow towards a better communication with God.
Other parishes are doing similar programs. Date Your Mate isn't unique in that way. But St. Michael-Resurrection's initiative is up-to-date and open to suggestions. That makes it appealing to the parishioners, MacDonald said.
"Marriage and the family are seriously being challenged. That worries a lot of people. The first meeting we had was very positive and enthusiastic," he said.
"I think this is a great idea and if other parishes want to pick up on it, that would be excellent. We need support for marriages and there isn't enough out there before a marriage gets into trouble."
Another Date Your Mate meeting is planned for June. For more information, call St. Michael-Resurrection Parish at 468-4071.