- Inviting Help
Passing on the Dream, The "Stake"
Bill & Mary Anne Boylan
(Excerpted from Summer,
1989 Matrimony Magazine)
We were driving home from a little place two miles from nowhere
in the middle of Pennsylvania when we dreamed the dream' Our section
board meets in this place because it is about equal driving distance
for the 13 encounter areas. The two of us began to talk about how
easy it had been to recruit a Weekend in celebration of our 25th
Wedding Anniversary. We had saved our money and paid for 25 couples
and the priest who married us to make that Weekend. It was our way
of saying thank you for the gift of our own Weekend and the gift
of 25 years of love. It was easy to recruit because we asked the
couples to be our "guest" on the Weekend.
The more we talked the more enthused I got about asking encountered
couples and priests to save for and pay for a Weekend for another
couple. What better way to reach those who couldn't afford a Weekend;
what better way to take a tangible stake in the lives of a couple
or a priest than to offer them God's Weekend as a gift!
That was the beginning, the tiny seed of the Stake Weekend. The
real flesh and blood for it was put together by five couples in
our living room. These super couples developed the hundreds of nitty-gritty
details needed to bring the concept to life. This even included
a beautiful slide and music presentation that would be used to introduce
the idea to small and large groups.
Our own personal journey with the Stake Weekend is filled with
wonderful memories of the couples and priest we had staked to a
Weekend. For example, I work with the U.S. Navy. My favorite stake
story is the one in which we gave a Weekend to our Executive Officer,
Commander Mike Mielnik, and his super wife, Joanne. If I had to
put a label on Commander Mike, I'd call him the "conservative
Catholic". He, like Pope John XXIII, still isn't sure those
windows needed opening as far as they have been! An encounter Weekend
was hardly something he would rush to. Yet, when I approached him
and said, "Mike, Mary Ann and I have a gift for you. We would
like you and Joanne to accept a fully paid Weekend away, at our
expense. “He found it hard to say no. I told him that Mary
Ann and I would be one of the presenting teams, so he couldn't "forget"
to go. Needless to say, it was a tremendous feeling to watch this
tough old "X.O." gradually open himself to his beautiful
Joanne. At the end of the Weekend I even got a hug, but only after
I promised to not tell anybody.
Mike & Joanne almost immediately took their gift and passed
it on by staking a neighbor who couldn't afford to go on a Weekend.
And thus it began to happen time and time again. Those couples who
were staked invariably gave that stake to someone else. The dream
we dreamed in that car ride from Central Pennsylvania has come true.
Mary Anne's Story:
As far as I'm concerned, the idea for the Stake Weekend began in
the tub! It was several years ago and I had brought the Worldwide
Family Spirit into the bathroom with me to read during a relaxing
bath. I read a story entitled, "Impossible Dreams Come True."
It was written by Ed & Joanne Conroy of Greensburg, PA. It told
how they wanted to do something for their 25th anniversary; something
that would remain with them the rest of their lives. Their "something"
was to recruit and pay for 25 couples to make a Weekend. Wow! Our
25th was just over a year away. What a great idea for us to do also!
"To whom much is given much is expected." That quotation
kept running through my mind. We had been given so much on our Weekend;
now we could share it with others. Bill liked the idea immediately
and we were off and running! Friends helped us recruit and soon
even our daughter caught the spirit. She, herself, paid for the
priest who had witnessed our wedding vows 25 years before Imagine
the thrill of us presenting Sacrament and It's Graces to the priest
who had witnessed our Sacrament's beginning! During the talk when
we invite them to bring their friends to the Weekend and to make
a starter list of 6 couples, Bill got out his original Weekend notebook
and, in front of everyone, checked off the last name on his list.
They were our friends, Jim & Pat, sitting right in the second
It was months later on that famous ride home that Bill began to
dream of saving money, a little at a time, to pay for another couple's
Weekend. He said in this way we could stake at least one couple
every year. I remember being so tired from the meeting we had just
attended that I silently wished he would dream some other day! But
his head was really popping, and with little support from me, he
began to hinge his dream together. ''If you can't beat 'em, join
'em." And I did. I suggested we could buy our stake couple
one Weekend presentation every month. Bill said, "Let's get
busy; Mare. What if people mean well but forget?" I told him
we would then send them a note saying, "Your stake is stuck
at Risk and Confidence on Saturday night!" I told him, "Bill,
no one would want to be stuck there for very long!" So we went
home to arrange a series of living room sessions with our giving
and talented couples to develop and put flesh on Bill's dream.
My favorite, most recent, stake memory Weekend is of dear friends,
Fran & Cass, who have been encountered many years. They were
carrying a heavy burden and being a real "Jewish Mother"
(like Mary); I wanted to "make them all better” I asked
if they would allow us to have a stake in their lives, by giving
them 44 hours at the "side of the road". They accepted
and by Sunday of that Weekend they were bright eyed, bushy tailed
and ready to face the world again. That was last December. Now we're
staking again - we're at Encounter With Self. You all know we can't
let our stake couple stay there very long.
George & Rose Monaghan Continue the Story:
It was three years ago when Bill & Mary Anne Boylan asked us
to be "Stake Weekend Secretary". We turned to one another
asking, "What the hell is a STEAK Weekend?" And we wondered,
"What will these two think up next? They must stay up all night
dreaming up things to do!" When they explained that they weren't
talking about a weekend steak barbecue, we asked them that biggie
question in the encounter, "How many nights will this take
us out to a meeting?" They assured us it was an in home joy
and we wouldn't have to leave our home. With that settled we agreed
to take the job. "But only for one year!" Well, that was
three years ago. We just recently gave the joy to Dick & Betty
Bill & Mary Anne's brainchild, "The Stake Weekend"
is not only a successful tool for recruiting; it is the heartbeat
of our movement in our area. As each month passes, we can feel the
beat become more exciting as new couples receive their Stake Certificate
to give to their un-encountered friends. These three years have
infused us with enthusiasm for those new couples about to make a
Weekend. We were constantly revitalized and in touch with each Weekend;
before, during and after.
We are in awe of the couples who are dedicated to keeping up their
Stakes. Couples like Bob & Anne King. For four years the Kings
staked couples, even when Anne's father was seriously ill and their
own children experienced health problems. They never let their Stake
down. They remembered the dreams.
Our favorite story is of the Vala family. The first brother and
his wife were staked by their friend. They in turn staked the second
brother and wife, who staked the third, who staked the fourth. We
were part of Joe & Luisa Vala's Weekend as team. What a beautiful
experience it was to hear Joe speak of the dream and what the Weekend
meant to them.
The Stake Weekend is a stake in loving one another. And without
love there is nothing at all. The beat goes on. Feed My Sheep...Feed
Rich & Carol Mazzafro's Story:
It was one month before the Weekend when we would be team and only
eight couples had been recruited. We started brainstorming one night
with four other couples on how to save the Weekend from being cancelled.
Thirty minutes later we had the answer. We would give away free
Weekends! You see, we had accumulated Stake Weekend Certificates
in Philadelphia and this seemed like a good time to give some away.
We divided the area team list into sections, and each couple there
took a section to call. We offered the teams a Stake Weekend for
any couple they recruited. This was their big opportunity to give
a special gift of love to their friends or family.
Almost immediately the couples began signing up. We felt overwhelmed
with excitement as we watched our numbers grow from eight to twenty-one.
We knew our Weekend was a go, and we felt loved and supported that
our friends had stepped in and helped us recruit the Weekend.
During the Financial Presentation on Sunday the idea of the Stake
Weekend was introduced to these couples who so appreciated the opportunity
they had been given. Many of the couples chose to stake another
couple! Each month they send in their checks, building presentation
by presentation toward that day when they'll have a Weekend to offer
another couple. Others gave to them. Now they give to others. And
so the dream continues.
Ed & Pat Lavender's Story:
Our most thrilling experience of presenting the gift of a Stake
Weekend to a couple occurred in March, 1988. For three years we
had tried to recruit this couple. Ray Theilacker was a work associate
who had been employed to video tape the Philadelphia Area Convention
in 1987. Prior to that taping we offered the gift of a fully paid
Weekend to him and his wife, Sally. However, they were not ready
to accept. With the filming of a second convention came a second
offer and a second rejection. They were in the process of adopting
two Korean children and couldn't afford the time. "Can we pick
the good candidates", we thought, feeling discouraged. Then,
this past February, Ray approached us with the proposition that
they were now ready to make the Weekend. We watched with hope and
apprehension as Ray taped the convention this year, one week before
their scheduled Weekend. Now we knew Ray was primed for the Weekend,
but what about Sally, who thought "Man of La Mancha”
The following weekend the Theilackers experienced the Weekend.
Here we are in June and their feet still are not solidly back on
the ground. On the Monday after their Weekend, Ray said he noticed
that the world was a different place. "Why", he said "even
the dog that has always stayed far away from me actually came up
and licked my hand!" What a difference a Weekend makes.
Our three year dream for them has now become their dream as they
dialogue daily and recommit to follow God's Plan for them. Now they,
too, have plugged into this precious recruiting tool as they faithfully
mail in their Stake contribution. Thank God we have one more way
to change the world.
Pat & Kathy Kurtas' Story:
Larry & Louise (we have changed their names) were part of our
parish family. We had known them for five years and had served with
them as adult advisors to our parish youth group. Whenever we saw
them and their family they looked so happy. We watched as their
family grew from two children to four children. We wanted to share
the Marriage Encounter Weekend with them. We decided to make them
part of our new recruiting tool which was just getting started.
St. Paul's letters to the Corinthians was the inspiration behind
this tool. The idea was to ask encountered lovers to write a letter
to each couple whom our area lovers wanted to see make a Weekend
They would briefly describe their own hesitancy at going on a Weekend,
their thoughts as their Weekend progressed and, mainly, what their
Weekend did for their marriage. Each couple on our list would receive
five letters from encountered couples within one week, plus an encounter
brochure with the date of the next Weekend and the couple to call
The first group of letters was sent and Larry approached us in
Church and asked if we had anything to do with it. He said they
were impressed with the sincerity and honesty of the letters and
especially the fact that they were hand written. He added that he
and Louise might try the Weekend soon.
The next time we saw the two of them together we asked if they
were ready to make the Weekend. Louise said they were and they wanted
to go when we were team. We encouraged them to sign up for the next
Weekend and said that though we weren't team on it, we would love
to care for their children. "All four of them? For a whole
weekend?" They were startled but pleased.
A week later Louise called and said that money was tight and they
couldn't go. We told them to just send in their form and not worry
about the money. But Larry strongly believed they shouldn't make
a Weekend unless they could pay for all of it. He was working two
jobs; she was working part time, but they couldn't handle the whole
amount. Pat finally convinced Louise not to worry about the money.
She then had to convince Larry and many of us prayed that their
Weekend would indeed happen.
The Tuesday before the Weekend one of the teams became ill and
we were called and asked to fill in. We hadn't heard any more about
watching Larry & Louise's children so we called and asked if
they were still making the Weekend. Louise was very enthusiastic
on the phone. Yes, they were going and both sets of their parents
were going to take turns baby-sitting. We said nothing about being
one of the presenting teams. They were surprised and pleased when
they saw us. They had wanted us to be there with them and God saw
to it that it happened.
Funds were available in our area's Stake Weekend Account for couples
who couldn't afford the Weekend. It was decided that Larry and Louise
would be presented with one of the Certificates.
The Certificate was tucked under their bedroom door during the
Financial Presentation and we could tell by the look on their faces
when they returned that they were overwhelmed. They decided then
to stake a couple.
They told us that their eight year old daughter noticed a change
in them immediately. And, after coming to our house with other encountered
couples and their families, their children kept asking them when
they could be with "those funny, crazy people" again!
Father Ken McAteer's Story:
The Stake Weekend is something beautiful. The need we all have to
love "as I have loved you" is fulfilled by participating
in the Stake Weekend.
A monthly contribution of $10 or $15 will be both a penance and
a reminder that this Stake Weekend must be extended to all the world.
If we expect to make a difference, to change the world, then we
must bring more couples and priests face to face with God's Plan
for their lives.
For the past several years I have been faithful in my own support
of the Stake Weekend. At the present time I am serving as a pastor
in a minority area. The value of the Stake Weekend is so evident
to me in dealing with my people.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of my Weekend, the Marriage
Encounter community of the Greater Philadelphia Area offered to
stake ten couples from my parish to a Weekend. As of now, four couples
have said yes! It thrills me to know that couples special to me
will have the opportunity to live the dream. The Stake Weekend makes
recruiting so much easier.
I have been touched time and time again by the consistent generosity
of encountered couples and priests. Their loving responses have
given me hope and challenged me to be more self sacrificing and
generous toward the people whom I serve.
Take a stake in another couple or priest. Invest in someone else
and PASS ON THE DREAM!
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