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Marriage Makers Encouraged to “Love Like Christ” and Teach “The Truth and Beauty of Family Life”

This summer, participants in the Catechumenate of Marriage Summit gathered at a retreat center near Houston to unveil the content of “Catechumenal Ways for Married Life,” a pastoral tool prepared by the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, family and life. In shared interviews after the summit, two attendees whose ministry includes serving Hispanic Catholics reflected further on the process of marriage formation.

As the June 26-28 conference encouraged attendees — including Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of the Diocese of Victoria, Texas — to continue their guiding role long after the priest had blessed the union with the sacrament of marriage, it also encouraged them to be more intentional and effective in proclaiming the vocation of marriage.

Someone who takes this ministry to heart is Father Victor Perez, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in downtown Houston and one of the speakers at the Marriage Catechumenate Summit. As he sat down for an interview with Darnell Miller, creative director of MAX Studios at the University of St. Thomas-Houston, Father Perez revealed how his parish integrates marriage preparation and training into everything he does. ‘she does.

Hispanic couples are pictured in a file photo exchanging vows during a wedding service at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Georgetown, Del., on February 14, the feast of St. Valentine’s Day. (OSV News Photo/CNS File, Don Blake, The Dialog)

At the service of a large group of young professionals who discern their vocation to consecrated or married life, Father Pérez advises them above all to follow Christ “and what he teaches us about love. You know, love is a sacrifice, it’s a gift of self.

Specifically, in the covenant of marriage, “you enter there to die to yourself, to lay down your life and to raise a family,” he said.

Fr. Perez’s marriage formation ministry extends to the Hispanic population which, along with the Anglo-Saxon community, represents the largest demographic group in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Father Pérez spoke of the involvement of his parishioners in the Movimiento Familiar Cristiano Católico (Catholic Christian Family Movement), a ministry for families to come together for training opportunities aimed at strengthening Catholic values ​​in the family. These mentors, themselves a couple, meet every two weeks with Father Pérez “to review what they are going to say, what they are going to teach”, he explains, adding that “it was for me an excellent way as a pastor to be close to them.

He added that many of these couples are also mentors for parish fiancés through a bilingual program called Witness to Love, which connects couples seeking counseling with those responsible for marriage formation. It is a program that crosses linguistic borders and is centered on the love of Christ, the priest said.

Father Perez also spoke of the growth of young adult ministry at St. Joseph, fostering an environment of trust in which people feel comfortable knowing others who share their values ​​and form holy friendships that can potentially lead to dating.

“I don’t have any secrets about dating, but I think it’s important to be the kind of person who is willing to truly love like Christ. So, both men and women have to struggle with their own insecurities, selfishness and evil vices,” he advised.

Like Father Perez, Jake Samour, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., is committed to promoting the vocation of marriage.

Originally from El Salvador, Samour attributes his marriage to a 2003 visit to the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Washington, as it was there that he met his future wife.

“When the thought came to me that this could be the person God had for all eternity and was reserved for me…it was a great gift,” he revealed to Miller in an interview at the summit.

But even before he met his wife and got married, Samour had leaders—from a youth pastor and catechism director to a marriage and family director—who reached out to him, mentored him, and guided him throughout a vocational journey that would lead him to marriage. life.

“They didn’t have to do that. They were not sent by the priest to do this. They did it simply because there was evangelism calling them,” he said.

Filled with gratitude for the mentorship he has received in the Church, Samour hopes to accomplish the same in his current role, which he describes as “carrying faith to others in the truth and beauty of family life.” .

Reflecting on the high percentage of Hispanic adults and young adults in the U.S. Catholic Church, Samour said this vibrant community brings a gift to family life that he sees as “a gift to our culture here in the United States.” .

In his ministry, he encourages others responsible for catechesis and marriage formation to harness this energy and bring it to families. But he also encourages his fellow Catholics to take the lead and become mentors in Bible study, programming and conferences.

“Be more intentional with others about the gift they already represent,” Samour said.

Read more Marriage and family life

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