|A team of married couples from St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon hosted the diocesan Engaged Couples Retreat held June 13. It was the first retreat held at the new Catholic Pastoral Center. Team members included Michael and Katy Moscardelli, Bernie and Chrisine Sy, Ken and Barb Condit, Deacon Paul and Amy Taylor, all from St. Frances Cabrini, and Zig and Ann Wajler, in photo above, and Mark and Cheryl Marsh of St. Stephen Catholic Community.
The Diocese of Nashville has long worked to prepare engaged couples for a long, faith-filled marriage by offering a retreat where couples can consider the meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony and hear from married couples about the day-to-day challenges and joys of married life.
For the first time, the diocese held the retreat on property it owns. On June 13, the one-day retreat was held at the new Catholic Pastoral Center on McGavock Pike across Briley Parkway from the Opryland Hotel. In the past, the retreats have been held at various sites, including most recently the Scarritt-Bennett Center.
“It’s great that we can have it at diocesan headquarters now,” said Deacon Tom Samoray, director of the retreat program and a parishioner at St. Stephen Catholic Community. “Having it on our own property gives it more of a Catholic feel. Plus it allows couples to have a look at our new office space.”
The retreat is held nine times every year, and a different parish from the diocese is responsible for hosting it each time. Married couples from the host parish act as retreat leaders to share their insights into the day-to-day business of marriage and family life, as well as the importance of keeping Jesus at the center of it all. This allows engaged couples to reflect upon the meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony and get a greater idea of what it entails.
June’s retreat was hosted by St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon.
“It’s been great for my wife and I to share our experiences with other couples and help them prepare for marriage,” said Deacon Paul Taylor, who with his wife Amy was part of the St. Frances Cabrini team. “It helped us grow closer because we were working on something together. Plus we could share some practical wisdom on how to deal with different things that come up in a marriage, whether they’re good or bad. And we could teach them that their relationships grow stronger through struggles.”
Throughout the day, participating couples listen to talks on a variety of topics related to marriage and have opportunities to reflect upon what they’ve heard in small group discussions.
“Before the couples come to the retreat, we have them take Meyers-Briggs personality tests. And we discuss that as the first topic of the day, so couples understand how different personalities work and how different personalities can work together more easily,” Deacon Taylor said.
“The next talk is on communication, followed by a small group breakout session. There is the finance talk, followed by another breakout session. Then we have lunch. The last three talks of the day are on Natural Family Planning, intimacy, and spirituality, with breakout sessions between the intimacy and spirituality talks. Then we end in prayer,” Deacon Taylor added.
Participants looked forward to the chance to learn more about the Sacrament and how it works in daily life. “I think the best part of it for me and my fiancé will be having married couples share their experiences with us,” said Erin Gaines, a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. “It’ll give us time to focus on topics that we may have not considered in our relationship.”
Overall, she feels that living out the faith within marriage is very important for Catholic couples. “Spirituality is important in any relationship, but it’s especially important for couples. It’s something that both partners should strive to grow in,” she said.
Couples wanting to learn more about an upcoming retreat or to register for an upcoming retreat can visit