Is it possible to strengthen a marriage in just half of one day?
Yes indeed, according to Dr. Allen Hunt, a well-known Catholic speaker and author associated with fellow Catholic author Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic Institute. Hunt will visit the area June 13 to present a half-day retreat, titled A Passion and Purpose for Marriage, at Holy Family Parish, located at 85 North St. in Auburn.
The retreat is not so much an event or program as it is an investment in the strength and health of a marriage, Hunt explained in a statement on www.DynamicCatholic.com.
"In our half-day together, each husband and wife will learn more about what makes their partner tick and how to love their spouses more meaningfully," said Hunt, who is vice president of strategy and content at Dynamic Catholic Institute. "My talks will combine the beauty of church teaching and Scripture with the best of recent research about what makes marriages healthy. This combination will engage and inspire every couple, and usually will do so in ways they have never experienced before."
Holy Family parishioners Don and Pat Cleaver have found that to be true. They first heard about Hunt and his marriage retreats last spring after their parish hosted a presentation by Kelly. The Cleavers, who have been married 42 years, were intrigued by Hunt’s background — he is a former pastor who left his Protestant megachurch and its congregation of 15,000 in 2007 and converted to Catholicism in 2008 — and attracted to his definition of marriage as a covenant.
"We take our covenant very seriously. We look at marriage as something you just keep working on through life," Pat Cleaver explained.
The Cleavers traveled to Pittsburgh last September for one of Hunt’s retreats and returned home inspired and convinced that other Auburn couples could benefit from one of his presentations, Don Cleaver said.
"It was just a fabulous presentation. He tells real-life stories of couples he knows and how they are living out their covenant," Pat Cleaver remarked. "On the way home we talked and said we’ve got to see if we can get him to come to Auburn."
During his presentation, Hunt talks about the way American society currently emphasizes selfishness, which eventually will kill a marriage. These days, many people seem to lose interest in things, even their marriages, if their own needs are not immediately met, Pat Cleaver said. Hunt’s message is countercultural because he talks about the way sacrificial love will strengthen a marriage, and the way Catholic spouses are called to help each other get into heaven, she added.
"That’s his message. It’s not about me. It’s about, what does God want me to do in our marriage? What are God’s expectations?" Pat Cleaver said.
It can be difficult to attract married couples to such marriage-related events, she said, because oftentimes they believe their marriages are healthy enough, and they’ve got this whole marriage thing figured out.
"They think, ‘We don’t need any help,’ but that’s not what (Hunt’s) presentation is about," Pat Cleaver added. "It’s such a vitamin shot of God in your marriage. We’re so excited to have him come."
Every marriage has the potential to grow stronger, according to Hunt.
"Whether it is an engaged couple seeking to prepare for the sacrament of marriage and a life together, a healthy marriage looking to keep everything in tune or a struggling relationship desiring real assistance through a difficult time, all marriages benefit from experiences that intentionally help couples grow forward together," said Hunt, who has been married to his wife, Anita, for 25 years. "Catholics have the advantage of understanding marriage as a sacrament, and excellent church teaching on marriage. However, all marriages need attention and effort to grow and stay strong."
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tickets for the June 13 retreat may be purchased for $25 per person by contacting Holy Family Parish at 315-252-9576 or Deacon Dennis Donahue at 315-406-1538. Tickets also may be purchased online at www.DynamicCatholic.com/auburn.
Tags: Catholic Marriage