Deepening love: new marriage enrichment course

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Seb and Kath Dell’Orefice walk down the aisle at St Joseph’s Moorebank in November 2020. Since their Sacramental Marriage the couple have sought to strengthen their marriage spiritually through regular participation in Catholic marriage programs such as The Marriage Course, which commenced at St Joseph’s on 20 July. Photo: Courtesy of Kath Dell’Orefice
Seb and Kath Dell’Orefice walk down the aisle at St Joseph’s Moorebank in November 2020. Since their Sacramental Marriage the couple have sought to strengthen their marriage spiritually through regular participation in Catholic marriage programs such as The Marriage Course, which commenced at St Joseph’s on 20 July. Photo: Courtesy of Kath Dell’Orefice

As a couple who were married civilly for 12 years before marrying sacramentally in the Catholic Church, Seb and Kath Dell’Orefice know deeply how faith can enrich one’s vocation.

Since walking down the aisle in November 2020, Seb and Kath have sought to strengthen their marriage spiritually through regular participation in programs offered at their parish of St Joseph’s Moorebank.

So when invited by their parish priests to take part in The Marriage Course, a pilot program aimed at building healthy marital relationships, the couple knew it was an opportunity that would prove fruitful for them.

“The pressures of modern and family life have felt overwhelming for us but the course offered so many ways that we can communicate, reconnect with each other and reinvigorate our marriage,” said Kath, a high school teacher in Sydney’s south-west.

“We wished we’d done this when we got engaged. If we did, we would have never wanted anything but a sacramental marriage.”

“We’ve been married for 14 years and have never done anything like this.

“We wished we’d done this when we got engaged. If we did, we would have never wanted anything but a sacramental marriage.”

Held at St Joseph’s Moorebank in collaboration with the Somascan Marriage Enrichment Ministry and the Life, Marriage and Family Team of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Centre for Evangelisation, The Marriage Course is being run with 11 couples over seven sessions starting from 20 July.

Formation for the couples is provided through a video series featuring high quality presentations by experts in marriage support and includes testimonies by married couples from all over the world.

Presentations are accompanied by journals used by each couple to facilitate conversations between one another and offer advice on how to build upon what they have learned in their lives.

Eleven couples took part in the first session of The Marriage Course, which will unfold over seven sessions at St Joseph’s Parish in Moorebank. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
Eleven couples took part in the first session of The Marriage Course, which will unfold over seven sessions at St Joseph’s Parish in Moorebank. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

“The course was based on the beautiful principles of Catholic marriage, highlighting the critical importance of the sacrament as the cornerstone of family life,” Kath told The Catholic Weekly.

“We loved the content which was presented on video by a decades-long married couple whose genuine affection and respect for each other was beautiful and inspiring.

“The course journal is well researched, thorough and informative, offering real world suggestions for couples looking to deepen their relationship.”

Though facilitated within a group environment, the program focuses on each couple and their unique relationship.

Using fairy lights, candles and intimate tables set out with wine and cheese platters, the organisers transformed the hall into a space that fostered this focus on the individual.

“The whole atmosphere was done to perfection, with romance instilled in our hearts upon entering the hall.”

Kath was delightfully surprised by the thoughtfulness and care which had gone into the venue to also transform it into a romantic date night.

Couples can enjoy their experience and talk about the key issues in their relationships.

Fellow participants and Moorebank Parishioners, Simon and Kristin Karam were so impressed they said they were struck with “wonder and awe” as they entered the parish hall and “filled with much excitement at what was going to be presented”.

“The whole atmosphere was done to perfection, with romance instilled in our hearts upon entering the hall, the music softened our souls and the candle lit tables filled our faces with such a glow, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces,” said Simon.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to nourish our relationship and to gain some real precious and life giving, quality time together that can be easily missed due to our busy time schedules.

Kath was delightfully surprised by the thoughtfulness and care which had gone into the venue to also transform it into a romantic date night. Photo: Mathew De Sousa
Kath was delightfully surprised by the thoughtfulness and care which had gone into the venue to also transform it into a romantic date night. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

“Communication in a relationship is very important to us, to be able to understand one another also is a big aspect as well so we definitely can’t wait for next week as we are looking forward to session two on communication.”

Hashya Weerakkody, member of the Life, Marriage and Family Team and coordinator of The Marriage Course initiatives in Sydney was encouraged by the response by those who participated on the night and was reinforced in her belief that strong faith filled marriages will lead to a strong and faithful community.

“Marriage is the primary relationship of any family,” Hashya told The Catholic Weekly.

“In an age of sky high divorce rates, the authentic witness of resilient, joy-filled marriages is one of the best sources of hope Catholics can offer to our culture today.

“By carving a small amount of time for their spouse, married couples will be better equipped to witness the great joy of married love to their children, family and community.”

The Marriage Course was developed in 1996 by British couple Nicky and Sila Lee for couples who are married or in a long-term relationship seeking practical support to strengthen their relationship, keeping the spark alive and staying connected.

“by carving a small amount of time for their spouse, married couples will be better equipped to witness the great joy of married love to their children, family and community”.

It has been run in over 127 countries for over 1 million couples and is intended to act as a bridge between the church and the local community.

For more information on The Marriage Course or any of the initiatives led by the SCE Life, Marriage and Family Office, contact Hashya Weerakkody at [email protected]

The Somascan Marriage Enrichment Ministry is one of a number of parish-based programs run by the Somascan Fathers at St Joseph’s Moorebank and St Christopher’s Holsworthy including the Behold the Man Men’s ministry, the Catholic Women’s League and the Somascan Young Adult and Teens groups.

Contact the Somascan Fathers at: [email protected] for more.