Fr Matthew Bemand-Qureshi, Director and Chaplain for Marriage and Family Life for the diocese, has written to all parishes ahead of National Marriage Week, which takes place from 7 – 14 February. He says: “I encourage you to mark this week in some way, perhaps with a petition for married and engaged couples in the bidding prayers at Mass, or by inviting engaged couples to receive a blessing at the end of Mass.”
He says that the Department for Evangelisation and Discipleship of the Bishops’ Conference have a produced a printable booklet containing reflections on the vocation of marriage. This can be found at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/marriage-week-2024/
“You will recall the recent email from Fr Dan Mason, following his appointment as Episcopal Vicar for Parish Renewal, the vicariate to which the Marriage and Family Life Department belongs. I hope that we might find ways of encouraging families in their vocation as part of the ongoing work of parish renewal.”
“In the light of the recent pastoral letter on the implementation of our Diocesan Vision, you might also be considering adopting ‘family life’ as one of the renewal strands you are going to focus on in your parish and/or parish partnership. If so, I would be delighted to hear of any suggestions or ideas you come up with, which might be shared with other parishes. I would also be keen to make contact with any parishioners who are particularly keen to work on this area of renewal, with a view to arranging some form of gathering later in the year. Two areas to think about are baptism preparation, particularly emphasising the part parents play in forming their children in the faith (which includes teaching their children about marriage from an early age), and marriage enrichment. The latter could involve couples from your parish or partnership meeting together to provide mutual support and studying a text together.”
Mass of Thanksgiving for Marriage and Family Life
This annual event will be on Saturday 13 July. Parishes generally issue invitations to couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, recently married couples, couples preparing for marriage, or individuals or couples who are involved in delivering marriage preparation.
Organisations offering support
Beginning Experience is a special residential weekend programme for widowed, separated and divorced people, which helps participants with natural feelings of grief and loss. The weekend is led by trained volunteers, who have experienced having to adjust to life as single people again. This next programme will be held on 12-14 April in Brentwood; for further details please contact: Mary: 0208 647 4760, or Maura: 07795 498445, or email [email protected]
Retrouvaille is a programme to support couples who have difficulties in their marriage. The programme helps spouses uncover or re-awaken the love, trust and commitment that originally brought them together and helps them through difficult times whether they are disillusioned or in deep misery. There is a virtual programme coming up very soon (8-11 Feb) and an in-person programme later in the year. Visit https://www.retrouvaille.org.uk/ for more information.