How priests can better prepare couples for marriage, how society understands marriage today and how the church can respond to that understanding was a topic for the annual spring workshop for priests April 10-12 at Malvern Retreat House’s Family Life Center.
Adam Dickerson, coordinator of marriage preparation for Ascension Press, spoke to 104 priests in his opening conference, “Recreating a Christian Culture for Marriage.”
This year’s workshop, titled “The Sacrament of Marriage: Concretely Applied,” is designed to assist priests’ engagement in the three-year archdiocesan initiative Remain in My Love, for the renewal of marriage and family life, which began last year.
Topics covered during the three-year implementation of Remain in My Love are the sacramentality of marriage, the goods of marriage (unity, indissolubility and fruitfulness) and the family as the domestic church.
It’s “the duty of the church,” Dickerson said, to offer a “paradigm shift” to “turn the tide” of contemporary secular culture, since “we’re not living in a society which supports marriage.”
The youngest of 12 children and parent of seven children with his wife, Sarah, to whom he has been married for 17 years, Dickerson advised priests to “be yourself well” and “have a conviction.”
Commenting on the prevalence of “inadequate catechesis” and “lack of personal encounter,” the former diocesan high school teacher and current head of Martin Saints Classical High School in Oreland urged his priest audience to “encourage and empower the laity. There’s a whole vineyard we can empower.”
Dickerson cited the Marriage and Family Survey conducted last summer throughout the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The first of the six most repeated themes that emerged from the 200 survey responses returned called for “bold, clear, univocal teaching, especially in homilies.”
“Living a relationship with Jesus Christ,” Dickerson said, “is how we turn the tide.”
Presenters for the next four conferences included Bill Donaghy, a full-time content and curriculum specialist, instructor and international speaker with the Theology of the Body Institute, and Damon Owens, an international Catholic evangelist and founder and executive director of “joytob” (“Joy To Be”), a ministry described as “Stewardship: A Mission of Faith.”
Father Matthew W. Guckin, director of Catholic Mission and Identity, Secondary and Collegiate Education, with the archdiocesan Office for Catechetical Formation, presented the workshop’s closing conference, “The 2018 Synod: Pope Francis’ Desire for Young People to Remain in God’s Love.”
To gather data for the synod, Father Guckin conducted a survey of youth (ages 16-29), asking them to respond to eight questions from a synod worksheet.
An analysis of the 897 survey responses returned revealed key findings: youth want to gather with other young people; they value serving others; they find their future to be challenging; they are pressured by the surrounding culture; they feel judged by the church; they have a different ethos regarding morality and they recommend the church use social media more to communicate.
Father Quindlen is pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord Parish, Plymouth Meeting.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103