More than 20 married couples from the Diocese of Orange used this time of social distancing to grow closer to each other through the BE LIGHT Date Night series from April 26 to 30. They were among 1,500 couples from 144 dioceses in 9 countries who participated in this free five-night virtual series from Witness to Love marriage preparation renewal ministry.
Hosted by Witness to Love founders Mary Rose and Ryan Verret, each date night featured a short, pre-recorded video presentation from a dynamic couple, reflection questions, and further resources. The presenting couples gave inspiring messages, sincerely sharing about their joys and struggles in quarantine with their young children, and highlighting the richness of our Catholic faith’s understanding of sacramental marriage. Participating couples from the Diocese of Orange were also invited to a follow-up Zoom hangout with the Office of Pastoral Care for Families in All Stages on Sunday, May 3, to share their experiences of the series.
Couples with young children appreciated the flexible format of being able to do the date nights whenever they could—sometimes starting past 10 p.m., after finishing work from home and getting kids to bed. But even couples who have been married over 20 or 30 years found the series to be helpful for their relationship and enriching for their faith. Some of the couples found themselves having heated conversations one night, followed by healing conversations the next. Through the journey of the series, they were ultimately renewed.
Marisela and Jose Cabrera from St. Anthony Claret parish in Anaheim invited friends, family, and other couples from their parish to go through the series together. For each of the five nights, seven to eight couples met with them on Zoom to share and discuss the reflection questions. The small group gathered virtually at 9 p.m. and easily went until past 11 p.m., only dispersing when Jose reminded them of the time.
During the post-series Zoom hangout, many couples from the Diocese of Orange wistfully expressed sadness that the five nights were already over.
In these times of sheltering at home and parish closures, the family—the “domestic church”—is all the more the main focus of faith formation and practice. Since marriage is the foundation of the family, strengthening marriages should be a real matter of priority for the Church as, in the prophetic words of Pope St. John Paul II, “Future evangelization depends largely on the domestic Church” (Familiaris Consortio 65). Marriage enrichment opportunities like these hopefully help married couples build their relationship with each other and to God and equip them to live as missionary disciples in and out of their homes.
The BE LIGHT Date Night Series was re-released on May 10 for couples to go through asynchronously. For more information: https://witnesstolove.org/belight