December 11, 2015

Event offers couples chance to laugh, ‘learn to appreciate their marriage’

Elizabeth and Gregory Schmidt, members of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis, look adoringly at each other during a service reaffirming their marital vows in Cana in the Holy Land on Feb. 12. Married and engaged couples, and even singles, will have an opportunity to grow in their relationships during the Passion and Purpose for Marriage event at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis on Jan. 30, 2016. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Elizabeth and Gregory Schmidt, members of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis, look adoringly at each other during a service reaffirming their marital vows in Cana in the Holy Land on Feb. 12. Married and engaged couples, and even singles, will have an opportunity to grow in their relationships during the Passion and Purpose for Marriage event at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis on Jan. 30, 2016. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Gabrielle King noticed a disturbing trend among her friends—a trend she felt she might be at risk of following.

“I noticed the number of friends I had whose marriage was in crisis, and they were getting divorced,” she said. “My husband and I were tag-teaming getting our three kids to events, running back and forth to practices and concerts. We were communicating about his work schedule, my work schedule, and the kids’ extracurricular and school schedules, but we weren’t communicating about our marriage.

“I took a step back and thought, ‘If we don’t do something, we’ll end up divorced, too.’ ”

‘We needed something quick’

After 19 years of marriage, King and her husband Kurt decided to take some kind of action.

“We went through Tobit before we got married, and now we needed the Church to remind us why we chose marriage,” she said.

But the couple’s schedule didn’t leave room for a weekend retreat or a 10-week marriage study.

“We needed something quick, down and dirty to re-energize us,” she admitted with a laugh.

After much research and the approval of her pastor, Father Todd Goodson of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, King decided upon a marriage event offered through the Dynamic Catholic Institute, a ministry of renowned evangelist Matthew Kelly.

One of the many programs offered by the institute is “Passion and Purpose for Marriage,” a four-hour event looking at three particular topics: five things women should know about men, five things men should know about women, and the most important word in marriage—and it isn’t “love.”

The event, which includes music by Catholic musician George Lower, features Dr. Allen Hunt, a former Protestant minister of Atlanta’s largest mega-church who was received into the full communion of the Church in 2008. He has spoken at Atlanta’s Eucharistic Congress by the invitation of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and travels nationwide speaking on marriage.

In an e-mail interview with Hunt, he described his material as being pulled from “Church teaching, the latest research on marriage in America, [and] personal experience in working with thousands of couples over the course of the last 25 years.

“As a result, Passion and Purpose for Marriage dovetails nicely with Pope Francis’ invitation to grow, safeguard and celebrate marriages,” Hunt explained.

‘Insights into every relationship’

Mary Burger, the Dynamic Catholic Institute representative assisting King and her team in hosting the event, said the event is perfect for married or engaged couples, Catholics and non-Catholics, even those who are not engaged or married.

“[The event] allows people to have insights into every relationship in their life,” she said. “For married couples, they see each other in a different light. People walk out very excited. I sit in the back, and I literally watch couples get physically closer together. I’ve heard some couples in a rough spot in their marriage walk away saying, ‘I see things in a new light. This opened the door to conversations I didn’t think we would have.’ ”

King said participants can expect a lot of laughing, no group sharing, “and nice swag.” Each couple or single person will receive a bag with Hunt’s book, 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage, a compact disc set titled Love, Sex and Marriage, information on how to lead a prayerful life, a journal, and more.

With a cost of $25 per person, Burger said the material given out “is worth more than the cost [of two tickets], so you’re investing in more to take from the event than in the event itself.”

Helping ‘a sister parish in time of need’

With the planning and promoting help of nearby St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish, King and her team had everything set for the event to be held on Jan. 30, 2016, at St. Monica Church.

Then the unthinkable happened.

On Sept. 9, a two-alarm fire destroyed St. Monica’s narthex, rendering the church sanctuary inaccessible for an untold number of months (as of publication, the parish is estimating a re-opening of the sanctuary in late spring or early summer of 2016.)

The school gym has been serving as the sanctuary space. While that would work for the Passion and Purpose for Marriage event, King knew it was not ideal.

“As we started selling tickets, people said they didn’t want to sit in folding chairs for four hours, and I can understand that,” she said.

She reached out to other parishes in the Indianapolis West Deanery, but the churches were either unavailable on the needed date, or too small for the event.

She expanded her search outside of the West Deanery and contacted St. Luke the Evangelist Parish on Indianapolis’ north side.

“They totally came through,” King said. “It’s wonderful. We’ll be able to see the crucifix, and it will be more relaxing than sitting in folding chairs.”

Diane Schafer, director of spiritual life and formation ministries at St. Luke, said the parish is happy to “help a sister parish in time of need.

“Msgr. [Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke Parish] said we’ll do anything we can to help them.”

The news came as a relief to Burger.

“I definitely did not expect that call from Gabby,” she said of learning of the fire. “I was glad to hear that no one was hurt, and that it was fairly contained and not as devastating as it could have been.

“We talked about [holding the event in] the gym, and we’ve done that before. But there’s something powerful about having this event in a church, and talking about the things [Hunt] talks about, and the messages he drives home. Being in a church can help drive those home.

“The people at St. Luke have been so kind. It speaks volumes about [the Archdiocese of] Indianapolis. It’s a real sign of the generosity there.”

‘Take time to notice Jesus in our marriages’

Scott Seibert, archdiocesan marriage and family enrichment coordinator, said he is “very excited about the Passion and Purpose event, and I hope that many people take advantage of this opportunity.

“Marriages are like children—they need time, energy and attention devoted to them to make sure they grow and develop and flourish.

“People change, and relationships change over time. Regular dates, retreats, and events allow the couple to get to know themselves and each other all over again.”

Seibert pointed out that “marriage is a sacrament, which means Jesus Christ is present. How often do we take the time to notice Jesus in our marriages? This [event] provides us this powerful opportunity.”

As for King, she hopes that “people come and learn to appreciate their marriage—even though there may be junk in their marriage now—but to appreciate it and know that ultimately for our marriage, we’re there to get our spouse to heaven.

“[I hope that people come to] appreciate those things that may drive us crazy about our spouse or loved one, and be thankful of it, because there are so many marriages falling apart for such silly things that just shock me.”

After seeing so many of her friends divorce from what King describes as “ego issues,” she hopes those who attend the Passion and Purpose for Marriage event will become “excited about their marriages and realize that even in the thick of it all, there are a lot of people who want what they have, even with the junk.

“We’re lucky we found someone, and we need to appreciate each other, warts and all. I don’t want people to give up on their marriage.”
 

(Passion and Purpose for Marriage will be held at St. Luke the Evangelist Church, 7575 Holliday Drive E., in Indianapolis, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2016. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased by logging on to www.DynamicCatholic.com/Indianapolis, or by calling the Dynamic Catholic Institute at 859-980-7900. General information about the Passion and Purpose for Marriage event can also be found by logging on to www.DynamicCatholic.com/Indianapolis.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!