Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a faith-based program that aims to help husbands and wives strengthen their relationships, is next month celebrating its 50th anniversary in Australia. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
In 1974, Sydney couple Ron and Mavis Pirola and Melbourne priest Fr Joe McCann returned to Australia after spending time in the United States, determined to make their shared dream to “change the world” through stronger marriages a reality.
They had experienced a Marriage Encounter weekend the year before and they wanted every couple and priest in Australia to experience joy and growth in their relationships as they had.
The first Australian weekend was held in Sydney in February 1974.
Fr McCann and two couples from the US presented that weekend. Weekends continued in Sydney, presented by passionate American couples and priests, until the first all-Australian teamed weekend in December 1974.
They quickly drew couples and priests in large numbers with Marriage Encounter weekends being held every other week.
Sydney reached out to Melbourne and by 1979 all the states in Australia were holding the weekends, with expansion into New Zealand and the Pacific.
Married couples experiencing this weekend of renewal, away from family, home activities and parish commitments, have refreshed their initial love for each other and the Church and gained deeper joy and commitment in their relationships.
The current Pacific Worldwide Marriage Encounter leaders were recently invited to be part of an initiative led by the Vatican’s dicastery for laity, family and life, through the John Paul II Institute in Rome, to foster the role of marriage movements in the Church.
Marian and Andrew Julien from Sydney represented the Pacific Secretariate of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, along with five other Marriage Encounter leadership couples from around the world, joining two other movements, Teams of Our Lady and the Emmanuel Community (Love and Truth outreach), in the mission of the dicastery.
Celebrating 50 years of Worldwide Marriage Encounter in Australia (By Fr Mick Court, Christine and Gerry Bent, The Catholic Weekly)