HENDERSONVILLE — A diverse group of 20 couples from the Charlotte area, Denver, Shelby, Asheville, Greensboro and even as far as Greenville, S.C., participated in a 25-hr. “Marriage Getaway” at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville Feb. 4-5. The Catholic couples retreat was the first of its kind in the Diocese of Charlotte.
“We had each age category covered, with multiple couples in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and I think one even in their 80s,” said Richard Caron, part of the organizing team who also attended the retreat with his wife.
The weekend retreat was sponsored by Regnum Christi of Greater Charlotte-Triad-Upstate SC, a Catholic lay movement. The first part of the retreat ended with Eucharistic Adoration, and couples had the opportunity to spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament afterwards. The next day, they attended Sunday Mass, more talks in the afternoon and a final blessing and departure.
Legionary of Christ Father Martin Connor was the retreat master. Three married couples from the Archdiocese of Atlanta also helped lead the event.
On the present needs of marriage couples, Caron noted, “Look at the struggles many couples are having based on what the secular world is promoting, such as individuals to be selfish, including ‘if you are not happy, get a divorce.’ Instead, for example, give and do everything for your husband or wife and ask for nothing in return. The evenings and getaway offer suggestions and tools on how to build a stronger (Catholic) marriage.”
Paul and Sofia Salerno were married Aug. 27, 2016, by Father Connor. The Salernos are in their early 20s, but have been committed to their faith and marriage since their wedding day. “We may only be 25 and newlyweds, but it was greatly recommended that we attend the retreat,” Sofia Salerno said.
She shared her major takeaway from the event: “Father Connor told us, in one of the talks, to look at our spouse and to realize that this person will hurt us, disappoint us, and because of that we need true love through Christ which will then help us to forgive and love our spouse.”
Cindy Burk, who has been married 47 years and was one the retreat organizers, said it is imperative for couples of any age to find their down time.
“Whatever our ages are or however long we’ve been married, we all need to step away from the distractions of life (job, kids, the house, etc.) and come into the quiet to reflect on where we have been and what comes next.”
Burk added, “The major takeaway from the 25-Hour Retreat is the importance of me being a continual ‘student’ of my spouse. The more spiritually attuned I am, the more I will be aware, see and hear the person in front of me and the God within. Marriage is a three-way partnership, and the more intentional I am in prayer, in sharing of myself and in forgiving, the more real our love will be to this world.”
Caron said he plans to promote more events of this kind in the area. “We have had three other evening events in the last nine months that the major topic was on building and strengthening marriages. We advertised in parish bulletins, Catholic groups in the diocese and word of mouth/personal invitations from Regnum Christi members.”
He said he next two “couples night out” events will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 28, at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Greensboro, and a “Marriage Event” for the greater Charlotte area from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Gas-tonia.
— Rico De Silva, Hispanic Communications Reporter