Father Henry Siew, Daniel and Shelly Ee present their item during the Gala Event of the 34th Worldwide Marriage Encounter Asian Conference 2009.
Photo provided by Father Henry Siew

DANIEL AND SHELLEY EE, the national coordinating couple of the Marriage Encounter (M.E.)and I participated in the M.E. Asian Conference (Aug 10-14) held in Tokyo. It was both a time of formation and “business” for delegates from eight Asian countries and observers from UAE and Taiwan.

The formation centred on the theme “Called by name” was given by members of Asian Coordinating Team. We reflected on the meaning of our names and on God’s purpose for each one of us calling us by these names.

My baptism name recalls the gift of faith, and my personal name indicates all that God has showered on me by the gift of my family and through the journey of my personal history. I am particularly thankful for my vocation to the priesthood, which gives me a unique way of exercising the vocation of love and be life-giving to people I minister. I examined the times I had been unfaithful to this call, and also God’s forgiving and nurturing way of bringing me back from death to life. I am assured of God’s unconditional acceptance, which humbles me to seek ongoing growth, and invites me to be a wounded healer. I am committed to my call to be a servant-leader in spite of my unworthiness and imperfection.

The conference methodology follows the typical M.E. way of dialogue. Daniel, Shelley and I had many opportunities to share as a team, and also to communicate with other delegates. These dialogues challenged us to be genuine, to speak with respect and sincerity, and to listen without judgement and with total acceptance. We develop a greater trust and intimacy in our relationships. We realise that the call to communion of love is made possible with such openness in the presence of God. This experience is a witness to the possibility of meaningful and intimate relationships in other contexts.

The bond of love is expressed in many ways among the Asian M.E. countries. Outreach teams had been very generous in giving their time to assist M.E. weekends in other countries that asked for help. The financially better off countries such as Korea and Singapore are giving donations to materially less available places such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for their outreach to the rural areas. The home teams in turn share unreservedly and creatively with couples who are less fortunate.

Many bishops and priests throughout the world are giving their full support to the running of M.E. weekends in their dioceses. They are convinced that it is a programme that helps average marriages to become good; and good marriages excellent. M.E. communities are committed to promoting and enhancing couple relationships, and we are grateful that with good marriages, couples have been life-giving to their families and parishes. n

By Father Henry Siew

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