Deacon James Conroy and his wife, Mary, head up the office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Springfield.
The office receives support from the Annual Catholic Appeal.
He said, “The Annual Catholic Appeal is truly neighbor helping neighbor and in my case as Director of Marriage and Family Life the appeal becomes families helping families. The funds that come to this ministry assist in strengthening marriages which in turn goes on to strengthening families. These funds help with the growing expense for providing up to date materials and being able to offer workshops, seminars, and speaker forums for marriages and families. Marriage and Family life office also provides referrals to so many organizations, programs and groups and counseling services. There are such groups as Marriage Encounter, Cursillo that help enrich marriage and family life in already good situations and such groups like Retrouvaille that has been a life line for troubled marriages. We are dedicated in strengthening marriage as a vocation, as a sacrament, as well as an institution that serves as Domestic Church that can be and is truly what the Gospel refers to as” the leaven” to our society.
Our office hopes to bring our ministry into many of the parishes. My wife and I have already visited a number of the parishes and have spoken on marriage, on family issues and hope to do many more program such as ‘The Four Seasons of Marriage” which is a talk on the four major phases of marriage, on parenting, bereavement, and family issues such as Natural Family Planning, needs of the modern family, annulments, and healing ministries for the separated, the divorced and the widowed. The funds help us to also carry out the outlines given us by the Bishops in the U.S. and to present the wisdom, guide lines and the teachings of the Church concerning the family.
Without the generosity of so many of our contributors to the Annual Catholic Appeal our ministry and that of so many other very needed ministries that help serve God’s people just could not be financially possible. To those who are able contribute to the appeal through their prayers and some by both their prayers and financial gifts may God bless you all abundantly and meet your every need!”
In the most recent issue of The Catholic Observer, Deacon Jim and Mary offered some advice on how to strengthen one’s marriage. Here it is!
This year Feb.14 gives us a double reason to celebrate. Not only is it Valentine’s Day, it is also World Wide Marriage Day. So put on your party hat and get ready for some fun. Happily married couples make healthy, joyful families, and strong families benefit society.
Our married life is in the 28th year, but still our relationship continues to evolve. The sacrament of marriage, as grace-filled as it may be, is not the “EZ Pass” to wedded bliss. Each day, we decide to love and respect each other. Here are a few ideas that have helped us through the tough times and brought us together as a married couple:
1. Accept your own and your mate’s shortcomings as well as the strengths. Every man is not mechanically inclined and every woman is not a gourmet cook. It did not take us long to determine that neither Mr. Fixit nor Julia Child lived at our house. It’s okay; we call for help if something breaks and dine out if we want a really nice meal. Actually, our failures have brought us closer and left us with a treasure trove of hysterical stories of our attempts to overcome our shortcomings.
2. Be grateful every day. For example: Our boys were getting to an age where they insisted that they were just too old for a babysitter, so we put their guardian angels on “full alert” status and went out for a few hours. We returned home to find two happy boys who had obviously spent some time making the house sparkling clean. The only sign that anything out of the ordinary had happened in our absence was the chocolate syrup dripping from the ceiling fan.
We were grateful that there had been no injuries and that they had formed a brotherly bond, even if it was to keep a secret. Some things you just don’t want to know.
3. Give yourselves a gift. Even good marriages are subject to the stresses of daily life. The pressures of jobs, children and household activities drag you further and further away from the joy and romance of those newlywed days. Take time for “date night,” even if it takes place in your own home after the kids are in bed.
Take time to reconnect with each other. We recently attended a Catholic Marriage Encounter Weekend. What a pleasure it was to spend that time reconnecting as a married couple. It was inspiring to spend time with other likeminded couples and reaffirm our commitment to each other. This weekend experience gave us the tools to deepen our relationship and the strength to face the world with a united front.
4. Finally, pray. Morning Mass and formal prayer are wonderful, but the business of daily life does not always allow for this luxury. Quick aspirations and prayer requests are good with God.
We often saw our mothers look heavenward and pray, “God, give me strength!” This little prayer request served the dual purpose of warning everyone around to shape up. Think of it as a short “instant message” to God. He is always “online” and available for your prayers.
Here is a marriage blessing to get you started:
By Mary Jo Pedersen
On the day when your promise of commitment weighs heavy on your shoulders and you stop beneath its burden, may the promise dance within you to strengthen you.
And when your embraces lose their warmth and become like rituals of duty, and the ghost of romance disappears behind a long day’s toil, may the promise wrap around you and hold you close and surround you with love from its Source.
When the bitter winds of change transform your early loveliness into roughened hands and smile lines, may there come across your faces an easy knowing, a comfortable peace, a deep rooted-ness that connects you to the eternal promise of Love Beyond All Imagining.
May the new life of creation be yours. May the comfort of sunshine be yours. May the soft earth nourish you and make you strong for one another and for your children and restore your resolve for promising.
And so may a soaking rain work these words of promise and peace into you, protecting you from harm and harboring you in the presence of one another for eternity.
* Deacon Conroy also serves at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield. He and Mary may be reached at 452-0614.