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Marriage Encounter weekends returning with new leadership, minor changes

The following story appeared in the March 25 Idaho Catholic Register.


By Vero Gutierrez

Staff Writer


After two years of cancellations due to the pandemic, weekend wedding gatherings for Hispanic married couples will be back this year.


Carlos and Nora Arana have been chosen as the coordinators for Worldwide Marriage Encounter and will be advised by Father Eladio Vieyra, pastor at Saint Therese of the Little Flower Parish in Burley.


“Seeing many couples transform their lives makes the time dedicated to this apostolate worthwhile,” said Carlos Arana. “The testimonies that are shared during the weekend by other couples are impressive and motivating for the participants,” Nora Arana said.

The next encounter has been scheduled for May 12-13 at the Monastery of the Ascension in Jerome. It will be the first Marriage Encounter weekend for the Hispanic community in southern Idaho since November of 2019. Weekends that were planned in Boise and then in Jerome in 2020 were canceled due to the COVID pandemic.


Father Eladio Vieyra is the new spiritual director for the Marriage Encounter movement. He will be in charge of providing spiritual advice to the coordinators and other people who participate in the weekend in southern Idaho.


Another priest who will be part of the Marriage Encounter Movement is Father Julio Vicente, pastor at St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Twin Falls. He will be the priest at the next meeting in May.


Father Adrián Vázquez, parish priest of St. Jerome and Father Francisco Flores, parish priest of St. John Paul II Parish in Idaho Falls will also be assisting the movement on future weekends.


There will be some minor changes in the upcoming weekend, including a reduction from three days to two days. The weekends used to start on Friday and end on Sunday, but to reduce expense, a Saturday-Sunday weekend was selected.


Also, couples who want to participate are being asked that they be vaccinated. COVID vaccines are not a requirement for the Marriage Encounter week-end, but is being requested by Ascension Monastery, as an effort to protect the health of the elderly Benedictine monks and the Missionary Servants of the Word religious communities who live at Ascension.


Carlos and Nora Arana are replacing Alfredo and Rosy Morales who have completed their three-year term as coordinators for this region.


In a 2020 interview with the Idaho Catholic Register Rosy Morales said the Marriage Encounter weekends “changes lives and strengthen activity in the Church.”


“The successes that have been achieved during these weekends have been thanks to the fact that we have prayer as one of our strongest pillars,” she said. “In addition, during this time the couples really get excited about having time just for themselves, paying attention to each other. That time allows them to open their hearts to each other and to God.”


Before the pandemic, about 80 Hispanic married couples – 50 in the Boise area and 30 in Jerome – participated in Marriage Encounter. Of those, about 60 percent become much more involved in their parish, according to Alfredo Morales. “We have heard some priests say this, and we have even seen it ourselves,” he said.


According to the official website of the World Marriage Encounter, nine out of 10 couples who attend a Marriage Encounter weekend recognize a positive and lasting effect on their lives.


“World Marriage Encounter is an enrichment for married couples who value their relationship and desire a richer, fuller life together,” the website says. “But it is also for priests and religious who want to strengthen their relationship with their ecclesial communities.”


During the weekend, couples are provided the tools that will help them to remain strong and united as a couple, and thus provide a stable and loving environment for their children. As the parents become “empty-nesters,” they will be able to use the same tools to continue to grow and prosper in their relationship, making their love a lifelong reality.

To register, you can request an application at your parish or contact the coordinators, Nora and Carlos Arana, directly by phone at 208-550-4514.


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