By Raymond Syms
There’s a well-known saying: A wedding is a day; a marriage is a lifetime. The serious joke is nowadays in some cases, the marriage lasts less time than the wedding preparation did itself.
To produce longer-lasting Catholic marriages, the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC)—as mandated by Archbishop Jason Gordon, has been training married couples to better prepare engaged couples for the issues and challenges they will face in married life.
The Joy Filled Marriage (JFM) Preparation Programme will begin roll out in the Archdiocese come January through the Evenings for the Engaged programme.
Six parish/cluster communities will start the programme: Santa Rosa, Arima (Eastern Vicariate); St Philip and St James, Chaguanas (Central Vicariate); Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando (Southern Vicariate); St Joseph, St Joseph (Suburban Vicariate); Our Lady of Lourdes, Maraval; and St Anthony’s, Petit Valley/Crystal Stream (Northern Vicariate).
A total of 48 volunteer married couples were introduced to and received training at weekend sessions held from May to September this year. The couples came from parishes and Catholic family life ministries; some are involved in the Evenings for the Engaged. The other marriage prep programme is the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend.
The sessions were held at the conference room at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict. Facilitators were Tricia and Raymond Syms, Episcopal Delegates for the AFLC, and the Commission’s spiritual adviser Fr Matthew Ragbir.
Participants were introduced to the two components of the US-based JFM programme – God’s Plan for Love (GPL) and Life Skills for Couples (LSC). GPL offers a firm foundation in and an understanding of the human person from the perspective of St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
At the opening session, participants were given an overview of the objectives, discussed how they met and how God brought them together, why they chose to get married in the Church, the seven principles from Catholic teaching and the Theology of the Body. Sessions also dealt with marriage vows, handling conflict and happiness in marriage.
For more information, visit aflcrc.org, the AFLC Facebook page or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone/WhatsApp: 299-1047
“The last class was so enriching as it revealed the beauty of marriage vows made flesh. Thank you, Fr Matthew, Tricia and Raymond, and AFLC team for all new material, your training, time and sharing. It was a spirit-filled experience to encourage us to serve others as we live our joy-filled marriage.”
“We learnt the meaning of sexual honesty which requires commitment from both spouses to live out their marriage faithfully (with sacrifice) as it’s the first ingredient of a successful, joy-filled marriage. Thanks Fr Matthew, Tricia and Raymond.”