GREENWICH — In these troubled times when married couples confront countless challenges, St. Paul Parish is offering the ideal spiritual antidote — an evening together … with Jesus.
Evenings for Married Couples, a monthly program for couples of all ages, is a collaboration of Regnum Christi NY Tri-State and St. Paul Parish, designed to give married couples some authentic quality time.
“Everyone knows it’s not easy to get a date on the calendar, let alone decide where to go, get a reservation, figure out where to park, and of course, budget for the expense,” says Hope Hirshorn PhD, Director of RCIA at St. Paul’s and Director of Regnum Christi NY Tri-State. “Evenings for Married Couples offers a beautiful sanctuary, dimly lit with candles, quiet music setting the mood, plenty of room to sit together, and a program that includes a short reflection tailored to enrich one’s marriage while finding peace amid the challenges of daily life.”
The evenings are offered free of charge to area Catholics on the first Thursday of every month, from 7:30 to 8:40 p.m., beginning October 6, and running until May, except for the first Thursday in April. Registration is recommended. For further information, email Hirshorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.rcnytristate.org/marriage-evenings/
“This innovative program is important because it provides an opportunity for married couples to take a little time away from all the noise, distractions and challenges of daily life to focus on each other,” Hirshorn says. “While the demands placed on married couples today are significant, there are very few places married couples can go to nourish and strengthen their marriages. What is significant about what St. Paul is offering is that it can be a consistent ‘date night’ for couples.”
Hirshorn says the program “is simple but powerful.” The evening begins with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for a period of adoration. She says making Jesus central to marriages helps them thrive.
The priest who oversees the evening delivers a brief talk, combining Scripture with real-life stories. The couples are then encouraged to discuss a question pertinent to their relationship, such as, “When, by your attitude toward your wife/husband, have you forgotten that she/he is a gift that has been entrusted to you?”
A Eucharistic blessing concludes the program, which is followed by fellowship with refreshments.
“I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the impact only one meeting had on me,” said Michael Caridi who attended with his wife Jill. “It made me ask questions of what marriage means to me and the times I take for granted the special bond we have. I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and embrace this program and reboot your relationship with your spouse and with God.”
The first evening was led by Fr. Jorge Obregon, LC, who offered a short reflection about how spouses are gifts to each other. This was followed by discussion questions, including, “When have you been a gift to your spouse in a concrete way recently?”
Also on hand for the program were Fr. Eric Nielsen, LC, and St. Paul’s pastor, Fr. Leszek Szymaszek.
Hirshorn thanked Fr. Szymaszek for opening the church for the program and making it available to all married couples “interested in growing in their faith and strengthening their marriages.”
Married couples of all ages are invited, Hirshorn said, and the parish plans to reach out to parents of students in the religious education program, along with young married couples in the area. You do not have to be a member of the parish to take part.
Evenings for Married Couples is an outgrowth of other Regnum Christi programs, including Three to Get Married, which is their Pre-Cana program; Cana Uncorked, which offers young couples a chance to socialize at a host couple’s home to discuss topics with a priest over dinner. In addition, there is C4: Catholic Couples, Cocktails and Christ aimed at couples who have kids in college; and One Flesh, a weekend retreat for married couples. For more information, visit www.rcnytristate.org
Hope and her husband William have been married 32 years and have six children. “For my husband and me, faith is at the center of our marriage,” she says.
Quoting Venerable Fulton Sheen, she says, “It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse and God. Without God, people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty, life is unfinished.”
By Joe Pisani