"Do you want to have a holy family? Then make this retreat" was the headline of a Peace Weekly article discussing retreats intended specifically for those contemplating marriages in the future. These retreats are the creation of a retired priest for those who would like to have a spouse with the same religious faith.
The number of parents in Korea who would like to have their children marry someone of the same faith is not small. However, the chance of this happening is small. Last year over 60 percent of Catholic marriages were not with Catholics. In our society it is not easy for Catholics to meet other Catholics of marriageable age.
For over thirty years the retired priest, who heads the happy marriage movement in his diocese, has thought of bringing Catholic young people of marriageable age together. He feels this will reduce the number of mixed marriages, tepids, and divorces. The first retreat was at the end of last month.
"Marriages Made In Heaven" is the title of the retreats. The first day is intended to deepen the faith life of the retreatants and remind them of the happiness of the life of faith and to experience its grace; the retreatants do not meet each other on this first day.
In the morning of the second day, they meet as a group. A period of recreation allows the retreatants to become familiar with each other without pressure and in a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere. In the afternoon, they meet each other individually for a period of 30 minutes; depending on how the communication goes it may be longer or shorter.
15 young men and 15 women make the retreat, and each will have the opportunity to talk with each other concerning possible marriage; this continues to late evening. On the last day, there is the parting Eucharist for the participants. At the end of the Mass an address book of all the participants is given to each. There is no pairing off during the retreat, but they are encouraged to do so after the retreat ends.
The priest offers to say the wedding Mass, and to keep in contact yearly and provide, when appropriate, a retreat for the newly weds. He feels this is quite different from the match-making enterprises that try to match a person's education, employment and wealth as the basis for the marriage. He plans to have four retreats a year for those over 25 years old. The first retreat will be free.
Hopefully, we will see some good results from this first attempt at having young people meet in a spiritually enhanced atmosphere before making a commitment to 'something made in heaven.'