Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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Bishop Skylstad among delegates to Singapore meeting of Worldwide Marriage Encounter
the Inland Register
(From the February 18, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)
Seated, from left: Father Arsenio Venus (Spanish interpreter), Father Peter Gichure (Pan Africa), Father Jude Nicholas (Asia), Bishop William Skylstad (North America), Archbishop William Goh (Archbishop of Singapore), Father Nathaniel Gomez (International Team), Father Emil Ciecierega (Pacific), Father Manuel Rocha (Europe), and Father Janusz Rozalski (Latin America). Standing, from left: George and Salome Mwangi (Pan Africa), Vic and Nenet Ladiona (Asia), Gene and Maggie Tokraks (North America), Carmencita and Pepe Ahumada (Latin America), Daniel and Shelley Ee (International Team), Bronny and David Lea (Pacific), Europe Luisa and To (Europe). Not pictured: Portuguese interpreter Isabel Frango. (IR photo courtesy of Worldwide Marriage Encounter)
Bishop William Skylstad, bishop emeritus of the Spokane Diocese, represented North America at last month’s annual meeting of the World Council of Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME), held in Singapore Jan. 14-20.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter promotes open, honest, tender and trusting relationships between the husband and wife, between priests and Religious and their communities, and the relationship of everybody with God. Couples are empowered to become evangelizers by witnessing to God’s love. Priests and Religious are called into greater communion with their people; they see they are not alone in carrying out the mission of the Church. The community that emerges is the real experience of Church.
Attending the meeting were six WWME ecclesial teams from six continents – Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Pan Africa, and Pacific. Each ecclesial team is made up of a couple and priest.
Chairing the meeting was the International Ecclesial Team: Daniel and Shelley Ee from Singapore and Father Nathaniel Gomez from the Philippines.
The meeting’s theme – “Go Be Missionaries of Joy and Mercy” – challenged the delegates to build flourishing communities of couples and priests who could reach out to more married couples, priests and Religious in the world.
A formation session at the beginning focused on improving leadership skills that would be cascaded down to leadership teams at different levels of the movement. A second formation at the end was on building flourishing communities in the respective continents.
The meeting reviewed the progress and challenges of WWME on the various continents and discussed strategies to take the movement forward. Delegates agreed to enhance the use of social media to reach out to a wider audience and maintain WWME’s relevance in a fast changing world. The meeting also re-affirmed the importance of WWME communities, which should be close to and serve parishes and dioceses.
The delegates were invited to be guest presenters at a one-day “World Forum on Marriage” organized by WWME Singapore and attended by couples and priests from the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family, WWME, and other family-related movement.
Among the participants were WWME leadership and community teams from Malaysia, Philippines, and Japan.
Msgr. Ambrose Vaz explained to his listeners how, against a bleak backdrop of marriage being under siege worldwide, couples were being called even more to live out their sacramental vows and to serve as beacons of hope. “Remember, you make a difference…. We are proclaiming, through our marriages and families, the unity and love, the joy and mercy of God,” he said.
Delegates gave a wide-ranging account of the state of marriage and family life worldwide and presented interesting real life stories of efforts made to help couples build strong, lasting marriages and life-giving families.
The meeting drew spiritual strength from the daily Eucharistic celebrations, Evening Prayer, and the focus on Scripture teachings during the formation sessions.
The week-long council meeting ended with a resounding commitment to build strong, flourishing communities, best exemplified with the “battle cry” – to reach out to one more couple, one more family, one more parish, one more diocese, one more nation, all the nations.
The International Ecclesial team, consisting of Father Gomez and the Ees, said, “This meeting has been a truly enriching and fulfilling experience for the World Council. Delegates discussed and worked on substantive ways to take the Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) movement forward in helping to build strong, life-giving marriages. The Council was touched, impressed and inspired by the WWME Singapore community for their creativity and attention to detail in hosting the entire meeting as well as the World Forum on Marriage. We thank the Holy Spirit for guiding us in the Council.”
Said Bishop Skylstad: “The dedication of couples and priests from all over the world and the support of the local WWME community could not have been more generous or capable. This archdiocese is blessed with some very fine servants who are very committed to strengthen and support married life and priesthood. I leave Singapore deeply inspired and grateful for these past few days.”
The next meeting will be held in Quito, Ecuador.
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