Fr. Chuck Gallagher, S.J., Founder of Worldwide Marriage Encounter Passes Away
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., July 22, 2013 /Christian Newswire
/ -- The leadership of Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME), the original faith based marriage enrichment program, announced today the passing of Fr. Chuck Gallagher, S.J. (photo), the priest recognized as the driving force in creating the WWME movement.
"It is with profound sadness that we announce Fr. Chuck's passing. And, yet we know he is with the Lord at this very moment," said Tony and Cathy Witczak and Fr. Emile Frische, MHM, the WWME International Leadership Team. "Over the years we have spent time with Fr. Chuck and learned how his vision for the movement was able to become reality," they added.
Fr. Gallagher attended a Marriage Encounter weekend in 1968 and the dream of expanding the movement worldwide began as a result of his experience. By 1969 he and two other priests and couples had presented 22 weekends in the New York area. In the early 1970s the movement began to expand across the United States and into Canada. By the mid-1970s couples and priests were moving as far away as Australia to offer the WWME weekends.
The original Marriage Encounter weekend was developed by Fr. Gabriel Calvo in 1952 while he was serving as parish priest Spain. Over the next 20 years the weekend developed to a point where Fr. Gallagher took the basic premises and helped to create the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement.
"Fr. Chuck is truly the father of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement. His vision, drive and determination have allowed millions of couples to experience this special marriage enrichment weekend," said Scott & Karen Seaborn and Fr. Tom Ogg, the WWME North American Leadership Team.
Fr. Gallagher was 85 when he passed away Sunday, July 21st, in New Jersey after a short illness. Funeral arrangements are pending.
"The impact of the vision Fr. Chuck had back in the late 1960s really resonated with couples across the United States. As a result of many of his efforts there are weekends that have and are being held in every state. When one thinks of WWME they also remember the gifts of inspiration and joy that Fr. Chuck gave to the movement," said Ron & Judy Pekny and Fr. Rocky Grimard, OMI, the WWME United States Leadership Team. They added, "Fr. Chuck gave so much of his life to ministering to couples, inspiring our WWME movement from its inception, and building up the Body of Christ."
Fr. Gallagher was recognized for all his efforts at the 2010 WWME North American convention, which was held in Atlantic City, NJ. He gave a short presentation and then met with couples individually as they thanked him for his devotion and dedication to the WWME movement.
"There are still couples in Canada who recall when the WWME movement first came to our country in 1970. What a gift that has been shared with so many Canadian couples. Without his fire and zeal we don't know if WWME would exist as it does today, "said Jamie and Connie McNeill and Fr. John Juhl, the WWME Canadian Leadership Team.
As a result of Fr. Gallagher's initial drive, along with leadership from numerous couples, there are now six secretariats across the world. Weekends are now presented in almost 100 countries and are held virtually almost every weekend of the year.
In addition to Fr. Gallagher's involvement with WWME he also was a prolific author and created other programs that help both individuals and couples on their life journeys.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter has been offering weekend experiences for over 45 years 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 almost 100 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 418-878-0081 (French) or contact the WWME Office at (909) 863-9963.
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