WORLDWIDE MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER (WWME) WEEKEDS throughout the world has offered millions of couples the opportunity to enrich and deepen their sacramental relationship. It is a unique experience inspired by the Holy Spirit working through married couples and priests.
WWME is governed by a Worldwide Board which is made up of encountered couples and priests of various countries, who meet regularly to workshop, discuss and discern new ideas, directions and give feedback thereby forming policies and guidelines for the Marriage Encounter (ME) Weekend. In line with this, the Asian ME Ecclesial Teams of various parts of Asia held their meeting in August 2008 in Seoul, South Korea (photo).
The objective of the meeting was to evaluate and plan the WWME values and guidelines to suit the Asian culture, lifestyle and the local church.
It was a fantastic experience for me listening to ME delegates from different parts of Asia, especially from the third world countries. The ME movement has touched and enriched the lives of married couples in their commitment to the sacrament, strengthened family life, deepened relationship with God and neighbour. This has been their experience amidst tense political and economical situations faced in their respective countries.
For example, the ME delegate from Bangladesh shared that despite being a country where it is difficult to share their faith openly, ME has succeeded in helping married couples to stay committed and find support from the ME community of encountered couples. An Indonesian couple shared that even though their country is huge and difficult to reach out to all, ME movement is still well promoted. This is due to the strong endorsement given by the bishops who have witnessed the great impact ME has had on family life and the active participation and involvement of encountered couples in the mission of the church.
The Asian Conference began with delegates renewing their commitment to ME values which were carried through with prayers, reflection, workshops and recommitment over a few days. This set the direction and atmosphere for formal discussions.
The sharing was done in a similar fashion to the usual ME Weekend whereby couples were encouraged to share from their hearts and not from their heads. What took place was honest dialogue which was objectively challenged and also suggestions were given to seek improvements in the running of the Weekends and in the methods of promoting ME to married couples and priests.
The conference also formally accepted China as part of the Asian Board and this is largely due to the efforts of Singapore ME community in nurturing an ME community in two cities in China. Today, WWME has spread to several dioceses in China. It is still growing rapidly and to a point where they have to turn couples away because they cannot cope with the demand for Weekends. The conference also gave recognition to the growth of ME movement in Taiwan and UAE.
The ME Asian Conference was indeed a powerful experience of love, commitment, conversion, struggles, faith and most importantly, the divine presence of God and its mandate to share its transforming power of love with the local church. -By Father Joseph Nasanathan, OFM