By Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M.

As part of my ministry I have had the privilege to share and be part of a team of couples who prepare those who hope to be married in the Catholic Church. Listening to their love stories throughout their years of marriage has been a source of inspiration and strength in my life.

Like all vocations, marriage involves a call from God and a response to the universal call to follow Jesus. {{more}}

Some 30 years ago, a group of couples saw the need for a marriage preparation program in Spanish. Faithful to their vocation to live their call to a life of holiness and service within their own relationship, their families and community, they started the Pre-Cana Hispanic team. Eventually this ministry found a home at the Catholic Institute of Evangelization, where the program is offered throughout the year.

As our Church continues to grow in spanersity, the team has generously responded to share their experience and gifts with other couples. In 2004-2005, the Philadelphia team traveled to Misión Santa María, now St. Rocco Parish, to help form a Pre-Cana team there. In an effort to facilitate the program to parishes outside Philadelphia, the team has extended their service to areas like Norristown, Hilltown and Bensalem.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “the love of husband and wife becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves” ( no. 1604). The vows a couple make on their wedding day are lived each day as they communicate, adapt, forgive, love … each day of their lives. Today, more than ever, we need marriages whose commitment to one another incarnate God’s love for each one of us.

Last year my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. My siblings and I have witnessed how the grace of God has been at work in the lives of our parents as they faced all the joys and challenges in their lives.

Many love stories and soap operas end with the wedding day of the main characters. However, it is then when the love story begins!

Couples are called to nourish and care for their matrimony every single day. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offers many insights for those whose vocation has taken them to the life of matrimony (; The tip for this week: “To keep your marriage brimming with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.” (Ogden Nash)

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.