ROME, Italy, Feb. 20, 2012 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Cardinal Ennio Antonelli met with the World Council of Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) during its recent annual meeting in Rome. The theme for the gathering was "Called to Holiness." At the meeting, the Cardinal affirmed Worldwide Marriage Encounter by stating: "I believe your organization has a deep spirituality that you spread all over the world." Cardinal Antonelli is the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and is responsible for all the organizations that deal with Marriage and Family within the Catholic Church.
Jose and Marilyn Garcia of Austin, TX; and Father Michael (Mitch) Walters of the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, the WWME North American Secretariat Ecclesial Leadership team were at the meeting representing all Worldwide Marriage Encounter activities in the US and Canada. The other Secretariats present were Europe, Asia, Latin America, Pan Africa, and Pacific. The North American leadership team told the Cardinal that Worldwide Marriage Encounter is bringing its programs to parishes across the US and Canada, and the couples and priests decide to become more involved in the Church and in activities of local parish life after attending its programs.
"We believe that a strong marriage is a key ingredient to a strong family, and the family is at the heart of the local parish," said Fr. Mitch Walters. Jose and Marilyn Garcia added: "The family is like a 'little church' and the strength of the parish and of the Church is based on the combined strength of all the families that comprise it. Worldwide Marriage Encounter provides a variety of programs and support to enhance marriages and strengthen families."
Cardinal Antonelli stressed that the center of everything is spirituality. Many people are Catholic in name only, they do not attend Mass. It is not enough to be a Sunday Christian, either. He quoted Blessed John Paul II saying that "the first indication of decline in the parish is the diminishment of joy." He added: "Holiness is the measure of the Christ-life within us. We must show that Christ is alive and with us, and then holiness is able to radiate out to the world. We see a lot of tired, sad faces, even on the children. We need to transfer holy joy to everyone, and this comes only from a deep personal relationship with God."
He also told the group that "Evangelization is based on each person's ability to meet Christ and transfer that experience to others. In the New Evangelization, the Gospel is transferred through people. This is the message of Jesus: you are one. Be one in the Family."
Cardinal Antonelli concluded with the message that "we are not called to be perfect, but to make a significant difference. Pray, hear the Word of Jesus, and love each other beginning in the family, and then network between families. Small groups of families are the real experience of Church. Church is a communion of people."
Worldwide Marriage Encounter has been offering weekend experiences for over 43years and is considered the original faith-based marriage enrichment program. The programs are continually updated to keep abreast of changes in society, and WWME now offers evening and half-day programs that are presented at parishes and other church facilities. The weekend program, traditionally presented as an overnight experience at a hotel or retreat center, can also be presented at the parish where the couples return to their homes in the evenings. WWME has a presence in over 90 countries, which makes it the largest pro-marriage movement in the world. In North America, the WWME programs are presented in English, Spanish, French, and Korean languages.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter offers married couples the opportunity to spend time together away from the busyness of the world to focus on each other. It offers tools for building and maintaining a strong, Christian marriage in today's world. To learn more about the Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends online, go to wwme.org, or you can call 1-800-795-LOVE (English) and 1-800-599-AMOR (Spanish), or contact the WWME Office at (909) 863-9963.