A few weeks ago I issued a Call to Prayer throughout the Archdiocese inviting people to pray for a greater respect for life, the strengthening and protection of marriage, and a defense of religious liberty. I would like to focus here on marriage.
The Catholic Church has a great interest in the promotion of strong and healthy marriages based upon God’s plan for marriage and the family. The family is the most basic cell of the Church. It is the domestic Church. It is also the fundamental building block for human society and civilization. For these and for many other reasons we take marriage very seriously. We require couples preparing for marriage to participate in marriage preparation programs that help equip them for a healthy and holy married life.
We continue to provide various opportunities for marriage enrichment, including training in Natural Family Planning and programs such as Marriage Encounter. But when marriages falter, where can couples turn? When couples struggle with the challenges of living out their marriage covenant, they still need our support. Good support through marriage and family counseling is available through the St. Joseph Counseling Center at Catholic Charities.
As part of our commitment to support marriage and families, we are establishing in the Arch-diocese a program to help couples whose marriages are unraveling, or who have already experienced separation and divorce but want to try again. The need for such a program is evident. In our society, up to half of all first-time marriages are ending in divorce. A significantly higher percentage of second marriages end the same way.
This program is called Retrouvaille (pronounced retro vi), a French word meaning rediscovery. It is Catholic in origin and has been offered around the country for many years. In fact, we have had them in Oklahoma but not with a permanent community in our Archdiocese.
What is Retrouvaille? Retrouvaille is a three-month program, a lifeline for married couples. It begins with a weekend experience in which couples re-establish communication and gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple. It is led by couples who have experienced the weekend themselves and by a priest. It is not a spiritual retreat, and couples are not asked to share their problems with anyone else. Though it is based on Catholic principles, spouses need not both be Catholic to participate. Couples are helped to look beyond their hurt and pain and discover how listening, forgiveness and communication are helpful tools in building or rebuilding a loving and lasting relationship.
The second phase consists of a series of weekly or biweekly sessions over the course of 12 weeks that help couples to deepen what they have learned on the weekend and provide additional tools needed to rebuild their marriage.
I have had the privilege of witnessing the good fruits of Retrouvaille over the course of my priestly ministry. I am very pleased that we are able to begin offering Retrouvaille in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City on a more regular basis. Please share this information with anyone who might benefit from such an opportunity.
For more information, visit HelpOurMarriage.com or call Oklahoma City Retrouvaille at (405) 443-3541, or you may contact the Family Life Office at (405) 721-8944.
Office of the Archbishop
405-721-5651 Ext. 157