Mass for Marriage Sunday
The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, celebrated Mass for Marriage Sunday in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta on 15 September, recognising those couples who were celebrating significant wedding anniversaries.
About 60 couples who had been married between 25 and 65 years attended the annual Celebrating the Journey Mass. Bishop Anthony’s parents, Gloria and Colin Fisher, were also in attendance, celebrating 54 years of marriage.
Mass concluded with a special blessing and an opportunity for couples to renew their matrimonial vows. A group photo of the couples with Bishop Anthony on the steps of the Cathedral preceded a light lunch in the Cathedral hall. Celebrating the Journey is hosted annually by CatholicCare Parramatta and St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish.
Go to Bishop Anthony’s Homily
Go to Celebrating the Journey 2013 Photo Gallery
Faith in Marriage Conference in Parramatta
‘Nobody marries their soul mate … You become soul mates by living together through the ups and downs of marriage.’
This perspective was shared by the guest speakers at the Faith in Marriage Conference, including Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Dr Ryan Messmore, President of Campion College, Vice Chancellor of Australian Catholic University (ACU), Prof Greg Craven, and Australian personality Robyn Moore.
The conference was held on Sunday 15 September at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta.
About 140 people attended the conference, which was jointly presented by CatholicCare Social Services Parramatta and ACU to incorporate the inaugural Ray Reid Memorial Lecture on the Gifts and Graces of Marriage given by Bishop Anthony. Ray’s widow, Jean, introduced the lecture and shared a reflection on Ray’s life and work. Ray Reid was Director of Centacare Parramatta for more 30 years and provided a great deal of input to the development of the CatholicCare Social Services (CCSS) Pre-Marriage Education Course, training many of the married couple educators.
The course has guided thousands of engaged couples to loving and holy marriages. Ray Reid died in April 2012 and prior to his death discussed how he would like his work to continue. He was happy to agree to a memorial lecture that would present hope and faith in marriage.
Bishop Anthony said Ray had a profound and lasting impact on the Diocese. He went on to discuss the high marital breakdown in the West saying we have become conditioned to think of marriage as conditional, as a state that lasts for as long as it works.
“In our culture, nothing is for keeps anymore whether that is relationships, work, housing, appliances, bodies, causes or morals. All is transient, revisable, renegotiable” Bishop Anthony said.
He emphasised the benefits of marriage to individuals, children, the community and society as a whole.
Dr Ryan Messmore said he encourages his students to remove from their vocabulary language that perpetuates superficial romantic notions such as “falling in/falling out of love”, as if love is something we have no control over when the reality is that giving our love to another is a choice.
He said young couples on their wedding day will often profess that they are marrying their soul mate. But most often their life as a couple to this point has been relatively untested and their love still relatively new.
“You become soul mates” Ryan said, “by living life together through the ups and downs of marriage.”
Referencing 1 Corinthians 13 – known as the ‘love chapter’, Dr Messmore said the Apostle Paul used 15 different descriptors of love — patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, etc. “In the original Greek, each one of those 15 descriptors is a verb! Which suggest that love is, first and foremost, a verb.”
Thus asserting that true love has to do with a decision to serve and give oneself for the good of another. “It is an action, not just an attraction,” Ryan said.
All speakers, including Prof Neil Ormerod, Francine Pirola and Ann O’Brien, acknowledged the inevitable challenges of life that can strain even the healthiest of marriages, such as financial pressures, family issues, illness and disability of children or family members.
But they suggested there are many simple measures that can be practised to build the resilience of a marriage against these challenges. Ann presented 10 Basic Principles for building a healthy marriage (see next column). Robyn Moore is a well-known Australian entertainer and presenter who discussed the importance of maintaining three vital characteristics in a marriage: optimism, humour and passion.
Some of the practical strategies Robyn presented included ‘dismantling the upset’ during arguments by bringing humour to the fore and using laughter to defuse the tension.
Robyn suggested looking at your partner today as if you are seeing them for the first time and, likewise, engage with your children as if you are seeing them for the first time, or cook the dinner for the family as if it was your first time. “In so doing we can often be reminded we have far more to be thankful for and to work on than not,” she said.
Prof Greg Craven presented information about the Constitutional Position of Marriage, which outlined the legal definition of marriage in the current debate over same sex ‘marriage’ and the role of the states and the commonwealth in legislation.While the speakers also acknowledged that there may be exceptional circumstances when a marriage cannot be sustained, such as where physical or emotional abuse exists, very often marital conflict can be resolved and with huge benefit for the couple concerned, their children in particular and society in general.
For more information about CatholicCare Parramatta’s family support services and programs visit: www.ccss.org.au
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