From the CPLC Director of Spanish Ministry, Aurora Tinajero
I wanted to give you a report regarding this weekend's Marriage Congress that was co-sponsored by Spanish Ministry and Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish. It was a historic event that covered the essential elements to truly transform the culture of death to a culture of life and to promote and defend the family as God intended it to be. There were couples from many different parishes in attendance.
Father Wilmer Daza and I, along with a team of volunteers from both his parish and Spanish Ministry, planned this event not really knowing what the response would be in light of the fact that within the Spanish-speaking community, there are two extremes, those who hold on to the traditional style of marriage and family, and those who have adopted living together and contracepting as a way of life. Our invitation was aimed at the latter, since they were the ones who needed to hear our message. We understood that we were taking a risk because they are also the ones who don't want to hear it.
We registered the limit of 100 couples, but by the afternoon session, we had couples show up who had been invited by the morning couples to come to hear what was being presented. We decided to not turn anyone away. So our morning session was full and our afternoon session was even fuller.
Couples stood in the back and in the aisles taking in every word that was shared by the speakers. I was the MC of the event and the speakers were Father Wilmer (our 2006 Pro-life Pastor of the Year), Martha Garza (an NFP-only OB-GYN from San Antonio and nationally known speaker), and Adolfo Castaneda (who is the "Defend Life" radio show host on EWTN Global Radio and studied the Theology of the Body at the Angelicum in Rome).
Adolfo covered two very important topics to set the tone of the event, "The Mystery of the Creation of Man and Woman," and, "The Spousal Nature of the Human Body."
Father Wilmer covered "Marriage: A Sacrament or a Free Union," and Martha covered, "The Physical and Spiritual Effects of Contraception" and "NFP - The Effective and Prudent Methods." She explained the risks of each artificial method with a powerful powerpoint presentation and she gave a basic understanding of how each of the NFP methods work. It was an extraordinary presentation. The couples asked that we please waive the breaks and instead just continue with the presentations - they didn't want the speakers to stop!
During the lunch break, we videotaped different couples talking about their relationships and we were truly impressed with their openness and transparency.The last hour before our closing Mass, we had a panel discussion and one of the questions was whether or not they wanted to continue having these types of events and how often, once or twice a year. They yelled "three or more!" Dr. Martha and Adolfo said it was one of their favorite congresses (Martha said it made her want to move to Dallas!) and Father Wilmer was very moved by the end hearing the couples express their gratitude for the congress.
This event showed me that through these types of formational teachings, we can help eliminate many of the evils that are threatening life and family in these difficult times. It was very, very hard work but I want to thank Edith and Sam, Laura, Omar and his parents, and the rest of SM volunteers, for faithfully serving in so many ways. You guys truly saved the day! I think we all agree it was more than worth being so tired you can't take another step to see what God can do when we obey Him!
We plan to take the event to other parishes - Father Eduardo from the Cathedral already asked to host the next one.