WEST VALLEY CITY — “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love,” Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia, his 2016 apostolic exhortation addressing the pastoral care of families.
Based on this document and following the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Pastoral Plan, the community of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish is putting together an Encounter for Couples, to be held Sept. 25.
The daylong retreat, titled “With Christ, Fall in Love Again,” is intended for all the couples in the parish. It will be led by Fr. Sebastien Sasa, the parish administrator, and five married couples who are parishioners.
The idea for this event came about when Fr. Sasa and some parishioners were talking about how the Church requires a lot of preparation for engaged couples before they get married, but after the wedding not much formation is offered.
Because of this, the parish decided to form another ministry called “Tobias and Sarah” to accompany married couples along their path.
“There are spiritual issues but also human ones,” said Fr. Sasa, adding that the Tobias and Sarah ministry will teach married couples “to learn how two people that think differently and live differently can live together, can pray together, can share and cultivate the Catholic faith together.”
With all the social, cultural, socioeconomic and educational differences that couples face in their marriage, “we have to help them in their journey,” he said.
In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis also said that “a love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur if we respond to God’s grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful.”
The pope is making the family a priority, Fr. Sasa said, “and we have everything to make this happen. … We can help them to become good citizens, we can accompany them in their spiritual formation,” and that is what the Sept. 25 encounter is for.
The encounter will have three main parts. First, Fr. Sasa will speak about the Church doctrine regarding the Sacrament of Marriage. Then two of the Tobias and Sarah couples will present a variety of dynamics to make those attending the encounter active participants. The third part will be testimonies by the other three couples involved in the Tobias and Sarah ministry.
“They will be sharing how to live marriages with joy, and how you can find that joy by praying,” Fr. Sasa said.
The encounter, which will culminate with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, is intended for people who were married civilly as well as people who are married in the Church, Fr. Sasa said. “We hope that they will learn the importance of being part of the Church and its sacraments, and how Christ is the vitamin to feed this love between husbands and wives.”