I am away from the parish this weekend presenting a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend at the Holiday Inn, Cherry Hill.
During a Marriage Encounter Weekend, a team of three couples and a priest, present a series of talks to couples (and sometimes to priests and religious) with the goal of making good marriages better. The Marriage Encounter Weekend is not primarily designed for troubled marriages. It is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the husband and wife.
When I was a newly ordained priest, a couple from my parish asked me to make a Marriage Encounter Weekend. As you might expect, my reaction was somewhat puzzled. I am obviously not married. What would be the benefit for me attending such a weekend?
Over 35 years later, I can honestly say that this experience (and especially its aftermath) had one of the most profound and lasting effects on me as a person and on my priestly ministry. This is probably not something that I would have chosen to do on my own. It would certainly not have been on my bucket list. Yet, what happened as a result can only be described as truly life-changing. And it was thanks to a couple who simply asked me to try such an experience. Like the couple that invited me, I extend an invitation to any married couple to consider attending a future weekend.
I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend, usually once or twice a year, for over thirty-five now. Our team wants to help strengthen marriages and give couples a set of tools to face the many challenges that our world holds for marriages and families. For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website or call the information line at 609-741-8012. (For couples experiencing serious and difficult marriage problems, there are alternate experiences such as Retrouvaille for this purpose.)
Many people are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change or may not want to “rock the boat.” Why not take a chance and ask your spouse to consider the possibility of attending an upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekend?
I can tell you from personal experience that it has had life-changing possibilities on me and on so many couples who have attended over the years!
Fr. Ed NamiotkaPastor