Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Insights, reflections gained from national Marriage Encounter convention

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Aug. 21, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

MarriageThe Worldwide Marriage Encounter convention in Illinois last month saw representation from the Spokane Diocese. From left are Father John Birk, Kathy and Tom Dauer, and Bishop William Skylstad. (IR photo from Father John Birk)

Some 893 couples attended the World Wide Marriage Encounter convention held July 25-27 in DeKalb, Ill.

Besides the married couples, 75 priests took part in the event. Among them from the Spokane Diocese were Bishop Skylstad and Father John Birk. Bishop Skylstad is the episcopal liaison for WWME; Father Birk is a member of the leadership team for WWME’s Region XII, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

Couples attending from the diocese were Tom and Kathy Dauer, also members of the Region XII leadership team, and Ray and Marisa Mackin, leaders of the Inland Empire Marriage Encounter, which includes Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

The convention’s first day concentrated on the relationship between the leadership team members. According to the Dauers and Father Birk, the presentations challenged them to look at how their relationship “is enhanced, emotionally and spiritually, when it is based on open and honest communication. We are able to offer compassionate love and support to each other through sharing dialogue.”

Presentations Saturday and Sunday focused on strengthening relationships between spouses, with God and with the broader community of the Church. “We were challenged to look at how our couple’s love reflects God’s love and how we come to know God’s love through the love of our spouse,” said the Dauers. As with the leadership teams, a couple’s relationship is strengthened through dialogue and the sharing of feelings.

Father Birk said he came away from the convention “enthused to recruit other priests and couples to make a Marriage Encounter weekend, to communicate on a deeper level. It also called me to share more deeply with the people I serve.”

For the Dauers, the convention brought insight in the spirituality of marriage. “We need to stay aware that we are called to make the decision to love our spouse every day” in all situations, they said.

The next Marriage Encounter Weekend in Spokane is Oct. 10-12 at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. For reservations call Bill and Virginia Walla at 509-484-5683 or 1-800-795-LOVE (5683). The Marriage Encounter website address is

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