WelCom June 2018:
Every two years, a marriage training weekend is held to form and encourage those involved in the ministry of marriage education in the Catholic Church in Aotearoa-New Zealand. An initiative of the Catholic Network of Marriage Educators (CNME), the training weekend seeks to form and encourage those involved in marriage education and enrichment in the Catholic Church. It is hosted in a different part of the country each time.
This year, the Christchurch Diocese hosted the event at Chateau on the Park from 18–20 May. The theme was Christian Marriage: Radical Demands – Extravagant Mercy. We were reminded continuously ‘marriage exists not to make us happy, but holy’.
There were moving personal testimonies from several couples; and great fellowship among the 143 delegates – 56 from Auckland, six from Dunedin, six from Hamilton, two from Palmerston North, 14 from Wellington and 54 from Christchurch.
Keynote speakers included Francine and Byron Pirola, Marriage Resource Centre, Sydney; Suzie and Diggs De Gouveia, Former Marriage Educators, Christchurch; and Yvonne and Brian Pauling, Imago Relationship trainers and educators.
We were given a range of techniques, training and ideas to transform our own relationships and, as marriage educators, also our ministries into joyful embraces of the Lord’s calling.
We were reminded no-one is called to a mundane marriage; no-one vows on their wedding day to become masters of mediocrity. We were asked to confront our failings, seek out our distractions and destructive patterns of behaviour, and surrender them: ‘yes, this will be tough, but not impossible’. We were asked to cross the bridge to our partner’s reality, see things through their eyes, and to reconcile hurts and differences.
In Bishop Paul Martin’s homily our at Pentecost Sunday Mass we were reminded we were no longer ‘fearfully locked in a room’ as the disciples had been following Jesus’ departure. We, as baptised, had been touched by the flame of the Holy Spirit, and so ‘we must go forth to spread the good news’. If the remaining 11 disciples could step out and convert 3000 after their encounter with the Holy Spirit, what could 143 of us achieve through this wonderful ministry? Watch this space!
Wayne McTague, Christchurch marriage educator.