The vision and intention of God for Marriage and Family life is that man and woman who, prompted by sincere, authentic and mutual love, become husband and wife through their total self-giving to one another in the institution of marriage should live in this institution a life characterized by “sharing and caring, a life of endless giving”. This is exactly what a man and a woman promise each other on the day of their wedding. By virtue of their vocation which is essentially a call to love, they need to live in a communion of life and love. This is the only way to the happiness and fulfilment they need and seek.
The Family is the fundamental unit of the society. Its well-being is indispensable for the well-being of the society. Conscious of this fact, the universal Church does all it can to support and promote the Family through the various organs she has in place to foster the good of Families. At the local level, as one of the ways of fostering the Family the diocese of Uromi celebrates Family Day annually in the month of August. This year’s Diocesan Family Day Celebration was unique for several reasons. It was an occasion to present the new Diocesan Marriage Preparation Course Booklet; commission the newly constituted Pre-marriage Class Instructors as well as recognize, and celebrate couples who have being in Catholic Marriage for 25 years and above.
On the Marriage Preparation Course, to have a happy and fulfilling marriage, it is indispensable that men and women prepare adequately for it. This is what informs the practice of the Church that makes it mandatory for intending couples to undergo Pre-marriage classes. Through these classes, the Church assists those preparing for marriage to have a good understanding of Marriage in general and Catholic Marriage in particular. The classes treat the following topics:
– Norms regulating the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony in the diocese.
– The nature of Marriage.
– Types of Marriage.
– Catholic Marriage.
– Elements of Catholic Marriage.
– Roles and Regulations in Marriage.
– Children in Marriage.
– Social and Cultural challenges in Family Life.
– Economy and Welfare in Marriage.
– Success in Marriage.
– Family Spirituality.
– Celebration of Wedding.
– General Question, Issues/Review.
– The Rite of Marriage.
It goes without saying that this education in Marriage is part of the graces that God bestows upon those who are called to the Marriage vocation.
The diocese constitutes and commissions Pre-marriage class Instructors
Having successfully prepared this marriage preparation course booklet, to respond better to the all-important need for adequate well-prepared Instructors, the diocese, through its Family and Human Life Unit also re-organized, amplified and further trained its team of Pre-marriage class Instructors. These Instructors were drawn from across the Parishes and Mass Centres in the diocese. They were officially commissioned for their mission
of fostering healthy, happy and lasting Marriages by Very Rev. Fr Francis Omonlumen, The Vicar General of Uromi Diocese on Saturday 12th August, 2017 during the Diocesan Family Day Celebrations which took place at St Joseph Catholic Church, Igueben. While the Vicar General presided at this Mass, the diocesan Co-ordinator of the Family and Human Life Unit, Rev. Fr Dr Augustine Akhogba, the dean of Igueben deanery, Very Rev. Fr Francis Okhah, and a host of other priests con-celebrated.
The Marriage Preparation Course which was presented to the faithful of the diocese at this Mass was reviewed by Lady Prof. Ethel Idialu, L.S.M. a member of the Family and Human Life Unit, Mary the Queen Parish, Ekpoma. She congratulated and appreciated the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Dr Donatus Ogun, o.s.a., the diocesan Co-ordinator of the Family and Human Life Unit, priests, religious and the faithful of the diocese of Uromi for this feat that has been achieved. Being a married person and a Pre-marriage class Instructor she could authoritatively make the following assertion which underscores the purpose of the booklet. “There is need to give sound pre-marriage lectures to intending couples to enable them understand Marriage and so make well-informed decision about Marriage.”
On the Episcopal Award for Longevity in Catholic Marriage, this year’s Diocesan Family Day Celebration specially honoured couples who have been in Catholic Marriage for 25 years and above. These witnesses of marital fidelity and God’s grace in Marriage were given Episcopal Award for Longevity in Catholic Marriage. Chief and Mrs Simon Aihebhoria of Nativity of Mary Parish, Uhiele were outstanding as the oldest couple. They have been married for 67 years.
In a society where the institution of Marriage has suffered and continues to suffer a lot of setbacks as evident in the high rate of divorce and separation, it is expedient that these couples be celebrated. In them we see that couples can remain united and live happily in marriage. One may ask: “How were these couples able to remain in Marriage for 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, and even 57 years in Marriage?” The answer may be presented in just two words – through grace and perseverance. Yes. The grace of God is always available to sustain couples in their Marriage and Family life. Grace is a reality that makes it possible for us to be what and who we are called to be. God always confers grace to his children in their respective states in life. Coupled with God’s grace, lasting Marriages are sustained by the virtue of perseverance which is indispensable in the making of happing and lasting Marriages. Marriage, as we know, is not a bed of roses. No partner is perfect. Couples are called to bear the shortcomings of each other and so persevere in their union.
The homilist at the Mass, Very Rev. Fr Francis Okhah dwelt extensively on the virtue of perseverance. He affirmed that Marriage is not just a ceremony; it is a Sacrament. As such, we can say that it is it is a sacred bond established by couples in the presence of God who is its guarantor. “Perseverance is the only way to peace in married life. This perseverance is what the Church wishes to honour in this ceremony.” He invited young couples to learn from the elderly ones this virtue of perseverance.
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration there was reception for all. It was chaired by Sir Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, KSJI of St Gregory the Great Parish, Ekpoma while Sir Prof. Daniel Aigbomian, KSM of Mary the Queen Parish, Ekpoma gave a talk on “The Role of Mother Mary in our Family. The talk was very rich in content. Mary, the Mother of Jesus is always there for us to intercede for us and our families.