Who better to speak to a group of young people about the importance of marriage than some experienced couples, as well as a priest who has himself been married?
Dozens of Catholic singles enjoyed a social mixer and also gained some understanding about marriage as an important and fulfilling vocation as St. Mary’s Parish in Vancouver hosted the young Catholics event.
The key to being fulfilled in marriage, they heard, was to be faithful to the call.
The event, called Burning Brightly, was an opportunity for Catholic singles to get together and also served as a fundraiser for St. Mary’s Catholic Street Missionaries program.
Organizer Ryle Brual said he was moved to hold a singles social event for Catholics that could also serve as a fundraiser for a worthwhile cause.
“I knew that this initiative would be rendering a true and fuller service to the Church, and culture and society in general, the value of which would in the long run, be priceless,” Brual said. “It just didn’t seem as meaningful to stage this as a for-profit event.”
He had been touched by the story of the founding of Catholic Street Missionaries around the time he was inspired to hold the event, which was why he chose that ministry for the donation.
The event saw about 35 Catholic singles aged 25-40 turn out to socialize and learn more about the challenges and joys of married life from couples and priests. Father Larry Lynn, assistant pastor of St. Anthony’s Parish in West Vancouver, spoke to the audience first and shared that before becoming a priest he had been married.
“I know what it is to be a weaker husband. I know what it is to be a selfish, self-serving husband and the damage that results from that,” he told the audience.
But he also discovered joy in marriage. “We are commanded to love by Jesus himself,” he said. “Love is to will the good of the other. That is a choice we make.”
Father Lynn also noted that marriage was essential to the future of society. It is the domestic church that sanctifies the couple and the family, he said. “Marriage can be a path to sainthood.”
In 2010 his wife died of cancer. Soon after, he explained, he was called to the priesthood.
Felipe and Veronica Grossling shared their dating and marriage experience with the audience. The couple have been married for about 10 years, but they said it had not been an easy road.
They met at graduate school in Washington, DC, and became friends. Several months later, Veronica finally agreed to date him and within seven months they were engaged.
That was when the personal issues came up, Veronica divulged, and described the engagement as “tumultuous.”
“We had lots of issues to deal with,” she explained. “I think we kind of saw more the trials and challenges that marriage has, which in some ways was a blessing. We got to see that before we made that decision.”
Felipe said during that time neither of them thought of breaking off the engagement, but they did consider postponing it. In the end, and with the help of a priest, they were able to get married when they had originally planned to.
Felipe also said that he is upfront with his students regarding cohabitation as he and Veronica did not live together until after they were married. “There are things that I learned about her that I would not have known until I moved in but none of them were a deal-breaker.”
Other guest speakers included Father Mykhailo Ozorovych and Paul and Theresa Yong who shared their stories of dating and marriage to encourage singles who feel called to the vocation.
The Yongs, who have been married 10 years, shared four keys to success: freely making the decision to marry, a full commitment by both spouses, faithfulness in times in trial, and fruitfulness through procreation and the development of the domestic church.
Singles who attended took part in games such as a speed-dating question and answer session, a brief swing dance lesson, and music by the Souped Up Swing trio.
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