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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
June 17, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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June 17, 1990

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PAGE 9 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC JUNE 17, 1990 By Rev. David Flusche, OSB Special to Arkansas Catholic When a marriage is in a rut, spouses Sometimes take each other for granted. But Marriage En- counter can help couples realize that difficulties can be a part of a good marriage, not an obstacle to it. When spouses see their difficulties as challenges to be faced rather than barriers to them from one another, marriage takes on a new life. The Marriage Encounter pro- gram originated in Spain about 30 years ago and quickly spread the world. The program has been in Arkansas for about 20 years. The Marriage Encounter team of three or four couples, !'and one or two spiritual direc- These team members are team." They conduct the ses- and speak to the group. There is an "outside team" of several couples Who remain in the background but take of many details and provide happy )rises for the couples making the There are ten basic talks in an En- COunter. The team members meet sev- eral times in advance to prepare and critique their talks and to pray for the Couples planning to make the Encoun- ter. Usually there are about 15 to 20 Couples making the Encounter, which runs from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. The Program The talks are in dialogue or panel form with a team couple and one of the spiritual directors sharing their re- flections on a particular topic. The pres- entations are rooted in the reality of marriage, dealing with problems, ten- sions, satisfactions and joys of marriage. Even though the team members speak frankly of these matters, the couples making the Encounter are always re- lieved to learn that there are no group discussions. Apart from the public sharing by the team members in their presentations, the only discussions are between husband and wife in the pri- vacy of their room. A weekend Marriage Encounter is not a group therapy session, nor is it meant to solve deep personal problems; nor is it designed to fix broken mar- riages. A motto describes an Encounter's purpose as "to make good marriages better." It also helps couples to realize that they have a good marriage as they share with one another in loving and open communica- tion. i Since husband and wife have come together after each pres- entation to share their thoughts, new understanding and a richer relationship have generally .developed. In that mood they share in a closing Eucharist as they present themselves together to God. In the evaluations the participants fill in, much appreciation is expressed and a new richness in their marriages is almost invariably acknowledged. The "best tributes come, however, when couples several months later write a team member or remark that their marriage has been different and better ever since the Encounter. Don't be Fearful Teams often find that some couples coming to an Encounter are nervous at the beginning. Occasionally one spouse looks reluctant, and the other more eager. In general, however, both come ready to make the Encounter in order to enrich the love they share, and in the farewells both spouses seem equally grateful for having taken part. Marriage Encounter is not limited to Catholics. In fact, about one-fourth of the couples are in mixed marriages or are of other faiths. These seem to profit as much as Catholic couples, often more so, since perhaps for the first time they reflect on the spiritual dimensions of their relationship with one another. Because of this, other religious groups have established similar programs under various rifles. People who work on Marriage En- counter teams receive no stipend, but sacrifice time and travel in order to take part. Elsewhere on these pages is specific information about Marriage Encounter weekends being held this summer. (Rev. David Flusche, OSB, is a member of the monastic community of Subiaco Abbey.) If you are interested in attending Marriage Encounter there are four scheduled in Arkansas through the end of 1990. In Little Rock: July 13 - 15 and Sept. 28 -30. For more information, contact Mar- riage Encounter, P. O. Box 7565, Little Rock, 72217, or call 664-0340. In Subiaco: July 90 - 22 and Oct. 12 - 14. For more information, contact Coury House, New Subiaco Abbey, Subiaco, 72865 or call 934-4411. - Not getting your ARKANSAS CATHOLIC? - Still getting it late? Drop us a postcard & call your local post office. Donna Vongsaravane, 12, a student of Franklin Elementary School, has re. celved the Mathematics Olympiads Gold Pin, which means she finished In the top two percent of all who com- peted In the national mathematics competltlon for sixth graders. She has also been recognlzed as an "Out- standlng Cltlzen of the State of Ar- kansas" by Gov. Bill Cllnton. Xaysangkhom Vongsaravane, 13, (be- low) a student of Pulaskl Helghts Jr, Hlgh School, has recelved the Presl- dentlal Academlc Fltness Award; glven to students who malntaln an "A" average In all studles throughout the year plus malntaln a standard of physlcal fitness. Refugees of Laos, thelr parents, Nouxay and Somphone (Sony) Vongsaravane of Llttle Rock, are now U.S. cltlzens. HIs mother has worked for the dloceean Refugee Pro- gram for nlne years. . - "~- ~, i'," LOOK INTO THE LIFE AT Fully accredited, college preparatory SEE THE GREAT PASSION PLAY & STAY AT KELLER'S COUNTRY DORM RESORT ( For Groups of 12 or more ) Eureka Springs, Ark ! Air -Conditioned Lodging, Swimming, $9 tickets, Grilled Burger Cookout, and Breakfast. All for $24 each I Call 50I/253-8418 today ! WORLD WIDE OPTICAL 622lAsher Ave. K- Mart Shpg Ctr. 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