by: Emily Lofy, Member of the WCI Board of Directors & Leadership Council (Winona, MN)
The WCI Leadership team was warmly welcomed at Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park, MN, on the weekend of October 27-28th. We were overjoyed to share the mission of the WCI and the gift of The Rule with 36 married couples! These couples attended the retreat from near and far—many were parishioners at the vibrant Holy Family parish, but others came from further in the Twin Cities area or around the state. What drew them to spend their weekend focusing on their marriage?
Perhaps it was a desire to deepen their own spiritual life as a couple—their conjugal spirituality, as St. John Paul II calls it—which prompted couples to set this time aside in the midst of their busy lives and attend a weekend retreat. For others, it may have been the intrigue of just what is this Rule for Married Couple Groups by Cardinal Wojtyla that has been unearthed from the treasures of Church archives. Still others, perhaps a desire to be seen, heard, and healed by God through prayer and the sacraments in order to more fully live out their vocations.
One thing is certain: when I stepped into the church basement and saw 36 married couples from all different stages of life gathered together that weekend, I felt a surge of hope for the future of marriage in the Church and the world. I also felt humbled as my husband and I got up in front of the group to give our talk for the day. Who are we to impart wisdom about marriage to all these couples? And yet I realized something most profoundly during the afternoon holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration. The lines for confession, which stretched through the length of the church and lasted well beyond the hour, told of the great humility and grace these couples possess. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for 2 months or 60 years—we all have something more we can learn about this great Sacrament of Matrimony. We all can go deeper in our marriages, in learning how to love, pray, forgive, and repeat.
The goal of the retreat was threefold— to introduce couples to St. John Paul II's Rule, to strengthen marriages through the teaching of conjugal spirituality, and to raise the ideal of marriage in the Church and the world. The excitement from the couples was palpable. Couples spent time together learning how to grow their conjugal spirituality through “dialogues,” grew in fellowship and support with other couples, and were introduced to the six points of St. John Paul II’s Rule. We brought more books on The Rule than we thought were needed just in case, and sold out of nearly all of them! By the end of the retreat, about 60% of the couples expressed interest in starting or joining a WCI married couple group! We are overjoyed that The Rule and our Leadership team were received so well by our first parish retreat, and look forward to replicating this retreat in other parishes in the near future!