By Daniel Tay

12.jpgSINGAPORE - Marriage Encounter (ME), Singapore celebrated their 28th anniversary on May 31 with four concurrent family workshops followed by a family Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia at the Church of St. Teresa.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia gave a special blessing to the 108 milestone-anniversary couples who renewed their marriage vows during the family Mass. He exhorted spouses among the 1,000-strong congregation to be lights of Christ to one another. [Click on image for full-size.]

Having four talks concurrently allowed couples to have a choice of what they wanted to attend, and this increased the capacity for having more people join in the celebration. This was a change from celebrations in previous years which drew mainly ME couples for a Mass. "This year, we tried to attract non-ME couples to come," said ME National Coordinators Daniel and Shelley Ee.

08.jpgIn his workshop on "Love Languages", Father Henry Siew (right) explained that there are five main 'languages' in which people give and receive love. There is, however, a dominant love language that, when love is shown to us using that language, we feel most loved.

The five love languages are: acts of service, touch, gifts, words of affirmation, and togetherness. By improving the spousal love relationship, spouses will be better able to show love to each other and to the people around them.

09.jpgFather Frans de Ridder (right) said that "Values are not taught; they are caught" at the workshop on "Catholic Family Spirituality". A few indicators on whether a family is truly Catholic can be seen in the emphasis placed on:

- the contents and atmosphere in the living room;

- the amount of family quality time spent together;

- having meals together, and the substance of the conversations that take place;

- the mentality in the family with issues relating to having more children, and welcoming the elderly;

- proper and good use of finances;

- importance of the family praying together.

10.jpgIn his workshop Father Johnson Fernandez (left) introduced the idea of "Creating and Celebrating Family Rituals", particularly in special liturgical seasons. He encouraged parents, together with their children, to seek God in these family rituals and special family events of remembering, such as baptisms, family reunions and birthdays. He also provided practical advice on creating and maintaining these rituals with specific pointers on how to improve family spirituality.

11.jpgIn "The Power of Fathers", co-founder of the Centre for Fathering, Wong Suen Kwong (left) highlighted the impact a father makes in the development of children, the challenges faced by today's parents, and the difference a father can make simply by being present in their children's lives, including their spiritual lives.

Editor's note: Couples who attended ME's 28th anniversary at Church of St. Teresa may view and download photos of the event from http://sg.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/siglapee2000/

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13.jpgLeft, Cecilia and Peter Wong, former National coordinators M.E. and Asian coordinators, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. Right, Clarence and Juliana Tay are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in July this year. [Click on image for full-size.]

What takes place at an ME weekend?

ME is designed to bring about a positive impact in a married couple's relationship. Couples who have attended report positive results in the areas of couple communication, intimacy and romance, and parent-child relationships.

At the weekend, three couples and a priest share their experiences, impart skills and provide learning tips on a wide range of issues relevant to everyday married life. The weekend is not a lecture, marriage clinic, retreat or counselling. There is no group sharing. Participants reflect and discuss with their spouses in private.

The weekend is time solely for each other, free from distractions and the demands of everyday life. ME weekends begin at 8pm on the first Friday of each month and ends by 6pm on Sunday. It is a stay-in weekend held at the Ponggol Marriage Encounter House. The ME weekend held from Jun 1-3 was the 329th weekend since ME's inception in 1979, with over 4,000 couples having attended.

Those interested in attending an ME weekend can register with Thomas and Cecilia via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or telephone (6241 5753 / 9733 4845). More information about ME can be obtain at the website: http://web.singnet.com.sg/~mespore/

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