New Boston marriage program presented at Rome conference

BRAINTREE -- Representatives from the Archdiocese of Boston recently returned from Rome where they gave a presentation on marriage at an international gathering of young adults.

The 10th International Youth Forum, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, was held from March 24 to 28 in Rocca di Papa, near Rome. Around 300 young adults representing 90 countries and over 30 international movements and ecclesial communities participated in the five-day event, under the theme of “Learning to love” and which included talks on the Catholic view of love, sexuality, and marriage.

“It was just really cool,” said Kari Colella, the archdiocese’s Coordinator for Marriage Ministries, who, along with her husband Stephen, assistant director of the archdiocese’s Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults, introduced the archdiocese’s new marriage preparation program, “Transformed in Love: Building Your Catholic Marriage.” The new program aims to help engaged couples build solidly Catholic marriages.

Stephen said that he was touched by the positive reception of their presentation at the forum. “For everyone there it was so new and exciting,” he said.

“We felt that we contributed as a diocese to this international forum in a pretty significant way,” Kari said.

The new program is currently in its pilot phase of implementation. The program is the result of two years of work by a committee of over 40 people established by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley consisting of West Region Bishop Walter Edyvean, Judicial Vicar Father Mark O’Connell, canon lawyers, theologians, psychologists, clergy, religious sisters, and married couples. It was developed at the request of Cardinal O’Malley who has identified strengthening marriage as one of his priorities since arriving in Boston, the Colellas said.

“Transformed in Love” is a 16-hour program exploring the different aspects of marriage and includes presentations, couples reflection and activities, prayer, and Mass. It explores areas like communication skills, fertility awareness, finances, and decision-making, Kari said.

While participating in the forum, the Colellas met many young adults from around the globe and heard some of their experiences of Christian living in different cultures. They also heard how marriage is viewed in different parts of the world.

“To hear stories of what young adults are doing around the world was so invigorating and helpful,” Stephen said.

The first two days of the forum emphasized love as a vocation and a life choice. The third day emphasized sexuality as a gift from God and explored consequences of the sexual revolution.

The final day of the forum, March 28, was marked by the celebration of the 25th World Youth Day and a Palm Sunday Mass presided by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square.

“They bring all these young people together to talk about an issue important at this time in history,” Kari said of the forum.

Stephen spoke of the significance of being invited to speak before an international audience.

“This is a win for Boston,” he said.