Marriage Encounter Singapore coordinators Patrick and Rachel Tee (third and fourth from right) pose for a photo with their Vietnamese guests.
Marriage Encounter (ME) Singapore hosted a priest, two Religious and six couples from Vietnam during a weekend held from Dec 2-4.
This is the third time ME Singapore has hosted guests from Vietnam since Dec 2010.
These special weekends were arranged after Fr John Nguyen van Dich, who hopes to bring ME to his home country, shared about the programme with a priest friend in Vietnam, and invited him to attend a weekend in Singapore.
Fr van Dich, assistant priest at Church of St Vincent de Paul, acted as a translator and presenter at the weekends. He also met with the Vietnamese participants after each presentation to reinforce the message.
ME Singapore coordinators Patrick and Rachel Tee said they are “excited” that “Fr John had sowed the seeds ... for the possible start of the Marriage Encounter movement in Vietnam”.
Fr Louis Nguyen Anh Tuan, director of the Diocesan Commission for Family Life in Ho Chi Minh diocese, who attended the weekend, said he is interested in programmes that “help families stay strong especially in the face of many threats to family life”.
“I learnt much from the weekend and am convinced of the effectiveness of the Marriage Encounter weekend in strengthening family life,” he told CatholicNews through email, adding that he saw how joyfilled the couples were during the recent weekend.
These weekends are precious for couples in strengthening their relationship through dialogue and sharing, he added.
The priest said he hopes to start ME weekends in Vietnam and, for a start, plans to send some English-speaking couples to weekends in Singapore.
ME could also send a team to present a weekend to couples in Vietnam before the Vietnamese finally set up their own team, the priest suggested.
The Tees agreed, saying it might be more cost effective to fly presenters over so that more couples can experience the programme.
“Marriage Encounter Singapore will consult the Marriage Encounter Asian Secretariat on this outreach project. Perhaps we can work in collaboration with ME movements in other Asian countries to form presenting teams to go to Vietnam,” the Tees told CatholicNews in an email.
Fr Tuan said the challenge is to persuade couples to attend the weekend as many Vietnamese work half a day on Saturday. He said he hopes the weekends will benefit younger couples especially.
Mr John Khong Duc Nhuan, who attended the recent weekend with his wife Maria, said the presenters shared experiences and examples that participants could identify with.
“From this weekend, I recognise that we are very important to each other as spouses and we must keep this love forever,” he said.
By Darren Boon