- Inviting Help
Gorskis Start Parish Couples Program
Phil & Cathy Gorski
We are currently Community Coordinators for the Lisle/Naperville/Woodridge
Community, Section 7, Illinois. We are also on the Marriage Prep.
Team for our parish, St.
Joan of Arc in Lisle, IL. In the past we have been Prayer Coordinators
and Inviting Coordinators for our Community. But we are just now
starting a new ministry. One inspired at the recent convention.
We attended the Worldwide Marriage Encounter
National Convention in DeKalb, this past July. We were very
moved by all of the presentations, but none had any greater effect
on us than the one by our International Execs, Fr. Rich O’Brien
and Lee and Jan Kremer. At the end of their presentation they talked
about our need to be Open and Apostolic. The following is an excerpt
from their presentation. The
entire presentation can be read on eMatrimony.:
Lee and Jan Kremer:
“We also challenge you to get back to the basics of Open
and Apostolic. We are asking you to do what we profess on our Weekends
and get back to our parishes with our Couple Power. We believe that
we, as a movement, have become too inward focused, and we need to
look outward into our parishes and the world to see what we need
to do to help ALL marriages and priests, whether they go on our
Weekend or not!! Our mission in the Catholic Church is to provide
a Catholic “experience” to renew marriage and the priesthood.
It does not say that this can only be our Weekend. The Weekend is
still our objective for all couples and priests because that is
where the conversions happen. But, let’s face it, we are not
very successful at getting over 99 percent of the couples to go
ON the Weekend. But we can get into our parishes and provide enrichment
for ALL married couples and help ALL of our priests in their struggle
to stem the tide of divorce.
We challenge you to help us! If you want to fill your Weekends
we KNOW that you can do it by first getting the couples in your
parishes to come to a 2 or 3 hour enrichment in your parish, offer
baby sitting and then they will see that you do not have two heads,
and the Marriage Encounter is not just a private club that you need
to go on the Weekend to enter. We know you can do it because we
do it in our parish and we have couples on every Weekend in Rockford
We don’t have to be a Presenting Team to make this happen.
All it takes is the desire to make a difference and to present simple,
relatable enrichments in our parish on the items that are important
to all couples today. Things like Raising children in today’s
world, Praying as a Couple, Conflict Resolution, Time Management
in the Home, Balancing Work and the Home Life, etc. In today’s
fast paced world there are so many excellent topics – like
both husband and wife working, especially because that is one of
the reasons we can’t get couples on our Weekends. …
We have programs already available to take to your parish
and make it happen. All you need is to have a few couples to do
it. It is easy and fun, and VERY successful.
The challenge for all of us is to follow in Jesus footsteps.
He asked us to go out two by two into the world and spread the Good
News. He didn’t say it would be easy, and he told us that
many would reject us. But, we challenge you to shut off the TV and
the computer and get out there and make a difference. YOU HAVE TO
And so we heard a calling, and we believed! Now, it’s important
that you know that we heard this same call last year at the section
convention in St.
Louis. But the timing just didn’t seem right last year.
When we heard it again this summer we felt compelled to look at
it again. We spoke to Ken and Sue Ekins, good friends of ours who
also attended the convention, and they agreed to help us. We wrote
up a proposal outlining the benefits to the parish and our ideas
for the program. We envisioned quarterly meetings on Friday or Saturday
evenings, run very much like a Community meeting. We would begin
with a prayer, a couple (or professional) would give a presentation,
followed by individual sharing between couples, followed by optional
group sharing, followed by fellowship time. We decided to call our
program STrengthening OuR Marriages, or STORM. The program would
cost the parish very little. We requested money to purchase beverages,
and some pads of paper and pens. Otherwise there would be no other
expense, and no other assistance would be required. How could the
parish turn us down?
And so they accepted our proposal. We had to move very quickly
to get things off the ground in September. We advertised our first
program in the bulletin and in the weekly envelope for the parish
school. We told people that an RSVP would be helpful, but was not
We were all very pleased to have 12 couples attend, most of whom
were new to us. We did not know many of them. Ken and Sue Ekins
wrote a very beautiful prayer for us to begin with, remembering
also those who had been widowed and those who have been through
divorce. We shared with the group our reasons for wanting to put
this program together. Especially the fact that it is very disheartening
that marriage gets a very bad rap in our culture and in the media.
We wanted to counteract those negative images with ones of positive,
strong, and faith filled sacraments.
Phil and I (Cathy) gave the first presentation entitled “Marriage
and the 10 Cow Spouse: or Making Your Spouse Feel Special”
We explained how to do a 10/10 and handed out pads of paper, pens
and a list of feeling words, but told people that they could just
share with each other for 20 minutes. We were pleased to see that
most people took to the idea of 10/10 easily. When we gathered for
the optional group sharing we reminded them that sharing was optional,
but that we had decided to call our gatherings “Strengthening
Our Marriages” because we all strengthen each other’s
marriages when we gather together. And when we share from our own
wealth of experience we strengthen each other. We sat back and were
amazed that all but one individual shared!! The fellowship was also
very pleasant. Many couples were very happy with the format and
were pleased that the “church” was finally offering
something for married couples.
In addition, we had two couples come up to us and offer to present
at a future session. We had a binder with copies of outlines we
have used and one couple is looking it over to select something
that they think they could do. Another couple is with "Couples
For Christ". We suggested that they might give a presentation
on couple spirituality, or couple prayer.
We held our second session on Saturday, Nov. 1. Gerry and Karen
Maguire from the St. Joan of Arc Marriage Prep Team presented “Daily
Temperature Readings” a technique for improved communication
for couples. Karen Maguire is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker
and Certified Imago Relationship Therapist. We were very excited
with this second program.
Our third session is scheduled for January 23, 2004; a couple from
our Community will present that session, and the fourth for April
16. We are also planning some extra social activities, such as ballroom
dancing classes, or a special mass followed by a “reception”
party, complete with wedding cake, for the future.
We had a pulpit pal in the room, with brochures. But we did not
“push” M.E. We think it will get enough press in our
presentations and in our conversations. We think that many couples
will become receptive to the idea with repeated exposure.
We can say, with all honesty, that there was little involved with
putting this together. The hardest parts were deciding what to call
it, and writing our presentation. The rest is just lining up the
next speakers and promoting the event. We feel a great sense of
satisfaction at being able to bring this sort of enrichment to other
couples. Like the other couples for a long time we had thought “they”
should bring something like this to our parish. And as Sue Ekins
says, she finally thought, “who are they?”. WE are “they”.
WE have the resources to do this. And WE can be God’s instrument
to strengthen each other’s sacraments. It has been very fun
and very rewarding to do so.
We encourage other couples to begin similar programs at their parishes.
Cathy and Phil Gorski
here for a printable document (PDF, 58KB)