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BRAINTREE -- The archdiocese's Family Life Ministry is holding a series of online seminars and activities in honor of National Marriage Week, an opportunity to celebrate, reflect on, and strengthen marriage and family life.
National Marriage Week takes place every year from Feb. 7-14, ending on Valentine's Day. This year, Valentine's Day is also World Marriage Sunday, which falls on the second Sunday of February. According to the USCCB website, the theme for National Marriage Week in 2021 is "To Have, To Hold, To Honor."
In a Jan. 29 interview, Liz Cotrupi, the archdiocese's director of family life and ecclesial movements, explained the idea behind the annual celebration highlighting the importance of marriage.
"It has been said that marriage is the backbone of society, and as the family goes, so does society. So we need strong marriages, we need strong families. Because if we don't, poverty increases, kids fall through the cracks with education. It's sort of like a trickle-down effect," Cotrupi said.
The Family Life Ministry has planned at least one online event for each day of National Marriage Week, covering a range of spiritual and practical topics relating to marriage.
On Feb. 8, Michael and Lori Lavigne will give a talk on "Why Sacramental Marriage Matters." Michael Lavigne is the assistant cabinet secretary for evangelization and discipleship. The Lavignes have been married for 17 years, have eight children, and are the hosts of the podcast "Raising 8." They will explain the importance of sacramental grace in marriage.
On Feb. 9, Dr. Greg Kolodziejczak, a clinical psychologist in Cambridge, will talk about "Love in a Lockdown: Communication and Conflict Resolution."
Dr. Kolodziejczak helped to write about communication in "Transformed in Love," the marriage preparation curriculum that the archdiocese uses for engaged couples. Cotrupi said that communication is a favorite topic of the people who go through "Transformed in Love."
"I think people are always trying to figure out how to do that better," she said.
Though not advertised with the other events, there will be a virtual seminar on Feb. 10, entitled "After Divorce: Healing From the Inside Out." The keynote speaker will be Rose Sweet, host of the Ascension Press program "Surviving Divorce."
Cotrupi said they wanted to offer some kind of programming for divorced people because "There's very little in support of people in this situation."
"We wanted to make sure there was something for our sisters and brothers in Christ who are divorced," Cotrupi explained.
On Feb. 11, Amber Ezeani, who is a mother of four, a national Catholic speaker, and the host of "Becoming Love," a podcast for young couples, will give a talk on money management. She will share how she and her husband moved from debt to financial stability, and offer practical advice for managing finances.
That same night, there will be an event in Spanish on moving from civil marriage to sacramental marriage that will be hosted by Deacon Franklin Mejia and his wife Wendy of Sacred Hearts Parish in Malden.
"There are a number of people who end up getting civilly married, and then, for whatever reason, it doesn't happen in the Church. This is a way for them to understand why it's important," Cotrupi said.
The week will end with "Paints and Pints Date Night" on Feb. 13, when Kathleen and Michael Habeeb lead a painting session to show viewers how to create images of the Holy Family. Michael Habeeb is a family life consultant for the Family Life Ministry.
The Family Life Ministry is also making resources available for parishes and families, such as books, podcasts, quizzes, and self-guided retreats. Cotrupi said they hope parishes will share these resources in bulletins and emails.
"If you realize how important it is to have good, stable families, which rely on good, stable marriages, then we need to do what we can to support them," she said.
Links to sign up for the archdiocese's National Marriage Week events can be found at www.bostoncatholic.org/familylife/marriage-enrichment. More information about National Marriage Week can be found at usccb.org/topics/marriage-and-family-life-ministries/national-marriage-week and nationalmarriageweekusa.org.