By Carmen Elena Villa
ROME, SEPT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Marriage is a vocation to love and self-giving, with a particular mission to build the domestic Church and proclaim the Gospel, affirmed participants in an international conference on the family.
The two-day conference was organized in Rome by the Pontifical Council for the Family and ended Friday. It focused on the family as a “subject of evangelization.”
On the closing day, a woman from the Shalom Catholic Community, and two couples, one from the Christian Family Movement and another from the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, shared their experiences in these ecclesial groups.
“There will be no new world without new families,” said Maria Emmir Oquendo Noguera of Brazil, member of the Shalom Catholic Community.
Noguera pointed out that in this association, which was founded in Brazil 27 years ago by Moisés de Azevedo Filho, young people who feel called to the marital life find a place that makes the period of engagement an occasion for mutual knowledge and discernment.
She affirmed: “Marriage is not just something that happens in a moment of our life; it is a specific call to serve God through his Kingdom. It is an active commitment to proclaim Jesus Christ.”
Noguera added that in her community, families actively take part in days of apostolate. These include Holy Spirit seminars, groups for evangelization, children’s summer camps, and door-to-door evangelization, in collaboration with the parish.
“In Shalom, evangelization continues 24 hours a day,” she said. “We want to reach those who don’t go to Church, those who don’t know the Gospel.”
Noguera stated, “The family is not called to be centered exclusively on itself but, on the contrary, must go out to those who need to know, love and serve Jesus Christ, his Church and humanity.”
American spouses John and Lory Brzysz of the Christian Family Movement, which was founded in Chicago in 1949, also addressed the seminar.
They explained how they use the method “look, judge and act” in the light of Church teachings and in this way the movement members promote marriage and family life centered on Christ.
The couple has six children and 13 grandchildren. Their youngest daughter is a nun.
They affirmed that “parents have a catechetical role in the midst of a society that lives an invasive secularism.”
The Brzysz couple also mentioned that their apostolate includes dialogue with other associations of the Church.
In this way, “families find fellow-travelers” in their apostolic mission, they concluded.
Decision to love
The last speakers on Friday morning were Francoise and Bernard Prouve, a French couple of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, which was born in the 60s with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
They explained that this movement offers married couples a special “weekend,” aimed at enhancing their decision to love one another, and based on dialogue and communication.
After this initial retreat, couples who desire it can receive periodic spiritual support.
The Prouves have been members of this movement for 32 years and work actively in directing retreats that are attended by dozens of married couples.
According to Bernard, they have received support and spiritual advice in decisive moments of their marital life, such as the “crisis of adolescence of our children, the death of our fourth child, the step to retirement.”
Francoise concluded, “It is an extraordinary gift that nourishes our sacrament of marriage and encourages it with the confirmation and challenges we receive.”