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WASHINGTON—Hundreds of Catholic leaders, including bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity, will gather June 23-26, at Xavier University, Cincinnati, for a national conference entitled “Marriage-Building Parishes: Blueprints and Building Plans.”
According to Lorrie Gramer, president-elect and conference chair of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM), participants will “learn ways to form our youth for responsible sexuality, better prepare couples for sacramental marriage, enrich and strengthen those who are married, provide marriage care for those in need, and heal the pain of divorce for both the spouses and the kids.” Collaborating with NACFLM in sponsoring this conference are the National Catholic Divorce Ministry (CDM) and the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved (NCMB).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth is a partner with the three national groups in hosting this gathering. Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, chairman of the committee, will speak at the conference, along with Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, chairman of the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Defense of Marriage. These two bishops and five others will take part in an interactive panel presentation on the first day of the conference.
“One of the pastoral priorities of the Bishops’ Conference is the strengthening of marriage,” explained Archbishop Schwietz. “Our priorities are meant to include the whole Catholic community. So we are very pleased that NACFLM and its collaborating organizations are taking the initiative to organize this important national gathering.”
“So much can be done to strengthen marriage within the normal scope of parish life and ministry. The resources, beginning with the witness of married couples themselves, just need to be called forth and utilized. The conference is an important step in this direction,” added Richard McCord, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
The “marriage-building” concept will be unveiled and explored in more detail at the June conference. The idea was proposed in the bishops’ recent pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” The bishops wrote: “We pledge to be a marriage-building Church, drawing strength from God’s grace while using creatively the gifts and resources entrusted to us.”
The four-day conference will feature 15 keynote presentations and more than 60 workshops on such topics as marriage mentoring, couple prayer, Catholic parenting, marriage retreats, divorce recovery and more. There also will be 20 pre-conference sessions offering in-depth training in certain aspects of marriage and family ministry.
A full schedule of the conference and registration information can be found at www.nacflm.org or by contacting NACFLM’s national office at 937-431-5443.
Keywords: marriage, divorce, bereavement, marriage-building, NACFLM, Archbishop Schweitz, Xavier University, Catholic leaders
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