By Michael Gryboski
February 7, 2015
As Americans ready to observe Saint Valentine's Day, nationwide multiple organizations will be celebrating National Marriage Week, which will be held Feb. 7-14.
The annual observance, which is in its fifth year, is overseen by a variety of groups and churches involved in the movement to strengthen marriages, including National Marriage Week USA and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"While marriages are challenged by numerous trials, both old and modern (divorce, abuse, pornography, economic difficulties, etc.), the witness of married couples to the beauty of lifelong married love remains a sign of hope and joy in our culture," Bethany Meola, assistant director of the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, told The Christian Post.
Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, sent a letter to his fellow bishops calling for parishes to be involved in the week-long observance.
"The U.S. bishops are committed to strengthening marriages and families in the United States. This is one of the key priorities of the USCCB, and also of the worldwide Church, as evidenced by Pope Francis' calling of two meetings of the Synod of Bishops to discuss pastoral care of the family," added Meola, who noted that the For Your Marriage website and Facebook page provide a virtual marriage retreat that's centered around the "advice of Pope Francis for marriages and families."
Other initiatives the USCCB has put forth as part of the annual observance include preaching resources for priests for World Marriage Day (Sunday, Feb. 8), which includes a bulletin insert that focuses on the various benefits of marriage, and online resources.
In 2009, organization of National Marriage Week USA came under the leadership of Chuck Stetson and Sheila Weber of the Let's Strengthen Marriage Campaign. A major focus of the organization is its "online marriage calendar" where marriage counselors post classes and workshops that they're holding throughout the year.
"We want to be known as a clearinghouse where people can find ways to get help for their own marriage or to reach out and help others," added Weber, executive director of National Marriage Week USA, who noted that "last year we had a thousand events posted."
"Our goal, eventually, would be to have identifiable marriage education in every town in America," she said.
National Marriage Week was first observed in the United Kingdom back in 1996. It crossed the pond in 2002, courtesy of Brent Barlow and Diane Sollee of Smart Marriages. The annual event involves a coalition of groups participating and holding events relevant to the theme of strengthening the institution.