By Susan Szalewski
Catholic News Service
OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) — About 500 people in Omaha were the first to taste "The Choice Wine," a new marriage enrichment presentation being taped for national distribution by the creators of That Man Is You! men’s faith formation and leadership program.
Through their participation, the Omaha audience could help couples across the United States when a video from the Feb. 14-15 event, sprinkled with couple interviews and interactive polling, is made into a DVD program for use next year in parishes and dioceses.
Steve Bollman, whose Houston-based nonprofit organization Paradisus Dei created That Man Is You!, presented the nine-session program for couples at Creighton University. Bollman said he hopes to have the edited "Choice Wine" DVD, along with books and other materials, available by Lent 2015.
The Omaha presentation also will become the first of a potential four-part "Choice Wine" series on Christian marriage, and it is the only part expected to be filmed live, said Mark Hartfiel, director of Paradisus Dei’s men’s faith formation program.
Omaha was chosen as the launching site for "The Choice Wine" because of the success of the men’s program in the Omaha Archdiocese and elsewhere in Nebraska, Bollman said. Most of the people at the presentation were participants from that program and their wives, he told the Catholic Voice, the archdiocesan newspaper.
He said he was grateful to all the people who helped, including the audience, local volunteers from the men’s formation program and staff from the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Family Life Office and Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, which helped organize the event.
The people of the archdiocese also were grateful, said Valerie Conzett, director of the Family Life Office.
"People loved it," she said. "We are so blessed in this archdiocese with such a strong That Man Is You! men’s ministry that Steve Bollman wanted to use us as a foundation for this marriage enrichment series."
Couples of all ages and from at least seven states were able to spend a weekend together, learning what makes a strong marriage, Conzett said.
And the couples were stirred by the talks, said Peter Kennedy, manager of adult faith formation in the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
"It’s been an amazing event," he said. "Every session was packed. People have been very excited about it."
The program was named "The Choice Wine" in reference to the wedding feast at Cana, in which Christ transforms water into wine and the chief steward proclaims: "You have kept the good (or choice) wine until now," Hartfiel said. The miracle was "a foreshadowing of the superabundance that God wishes to pour out upon marriages."
"The Choice Wine" was designed to show couples the richness of Catholic marriage, help them avoid pitfalls that lead to divorce and encounter God in their relationship, Hartfiel said.
"It’s beautifully countercultural," said Sue Wozny, a member of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus who attended with her husband, Charlie. "We hear so much negative about marriage. … Marriage is taking a beating."
The Woznys were among couples interviewed for segments that could make it into the DVD program. Their discussion dealt with the need at times to keep silent, Sue Wozny said.
Sometimes the kindest thing is to say nothing, which in marriage "can be a daily challenge," she said.
Spencer Shoquette and Erika Goldsmith, who plan to be married June 28 at St. Stephen the Martyr Church in Omaha, said they went to the Creighton event after learning about it through the Archdiocese of Omaha’s marriage preparation program.
Shoquette said he enjoyed the way Bollman included a scientific approach by talking about how the brain and the physical body works with a person’s inner, spiritual makeup.
Goldsmith said she liked the way Bollman showed how a "superabundant marriage" is possible for husbands and wives by using the example of his late mother- and father-in-law.
A superabundant marriage is the goal of "The Choice Wine" for couples, which Bollman described as experiencing God in a marriage and having a foretaste of paradise.
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Szalewski is on the staff of the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Omaha Archdiocese.
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Tags: Catholic Marriage