Marriage Encounter Asian delegates pose for a photo outside ME House in Punggol, the venue of their recent Asian conference.Marriage Encounter Asian delegates pose for a photo outside ME House in Punggol, the venue of their recent Asian conference.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) teams from around Asia discussed the direction their movement would take and shared their joys and challenges at a conference in Singapore recently.

Thirty-nine members of National Ecclesial Teams (NET), each of which comprise a co-ordinating couple and priest, met from Sept 6-12 at the Marriage Encounter House in Punggol for the 39th WWME Asian conference.

The pro-marriage movement is present in 12 Asian countries and territories – Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

During the meeting, which had the theme Called to Shepherd, participants discussed ways to bring the WWME to countries and places that do not conduct the movement’s weekend programme. For example, Malaysia’s WWME is working with its counterpart in Indonesia on how to bring the programme to East Malaysia.

Country teams were also encouraged to support each other by sending couple presenters to places where there is a shortage of such presenters, such as Singapore assisting WWME China and India assisting the Tamil-speaking in Malaysia.

Participants noted that China’s WWME movement has been able to progress well due to help given by other Asian countries, especially Singapore.

In 2000, the first ME weekend in China kicked off in Shanghai with help from WMME Korea and WMME Singapore. In 2005, ME weekends were held in Ningbo and Liaoning with help from WWME Singapore.

There are many prefectures in China waiting ME Weekends, participants learnt. WWME China is presently facing challenges in training couple presenters to reach out to these prefectures.

During the conference, the China team requested assistance from countries with Mandarin-speaking people, such as Malaysia and Singapore, to help them train couple presenters.

Participants also discussed challenges faced by some countries, such as Bangladesh and Japan, in having stay-in ME weekends due to costs and couples’ attendance.

There is also a shortage of ME priest presenters in most of the Asian countries, except for Korea, participants learnt. 

WWME Korea shared their joy over Pope Francis’ visit to their country in August.  In 2013, WWME Korea conducted 132 ME weekends for 2,298 couples. Their target this year is to have 140 weekends for 2,500 couples.

Korea also has 515 presenting team couples and 238 priests who are available to present the weekends.

The countries with WWME  in Asia take turns to host the annual Asian conference. The last time Singapore played host was in 2004.

For more information on WWME, visit wwmesg.org

By Patrick and Rachel Tee

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