Putting God at the center: Marriage conference aims to focus, refocus couples’ priorities

March 28, 2017

HOUSTON — “The Family as a School of Virtue” is the theme this year of the Archdiocese’s Office of Family Life Ministry and John Paul II Foundation for Life and Family’s third annual “Together in Holiness” conference.

The program focuses on the need for couples to prioritize or reprioritize their family life by putting God and Church at the center of their lives, according to Mary Caprio, a speaker and program director for St. John Paul II Foundation.

“The goal of our conference is to assist couples to grow together in holiness through a discovery or rediscovery of their faith and their call to love,” Caprio said.

In her talk “Marriage, Family, and the Virtue of Love,” Caprio will focus on what it means for couples to love one another, to build a foundation of love between each other and their children and at the same time with God and Church.

“I want them to know that they have been given a wonderful ‘path to the Father’ through their particular call to love in marriage,” Caprio said.

Caprio, a former nurse who studied marriage and family at the Pontifical Institute on Marriage and Family in Washington D.C. and has worked with couples in marriage preparation and family planning for the last nine years at St. Michael Catholic Church in Houston, is one of four speakers who will share their wisdom, education and experience to help couples strengthen their marriage while deepening their faith.

Danielle Bean, a blogger and publisher of the Catholic Digest, will be giving parents specific guidelines on maintaining peace, balance and joy in their daily lives in her talk “Family: A School of Virtue.” Deacon Tom Vicknair of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church will address empty nesters with his talk “A Blueprint for Marriage: How to Remain One in the Lord.”

And clinical psychologist and father of 10 Dr. Ray Guarendi’s topic is “Standing Strong as Parents.” Father Victor Perez, pastor of Most Holy Trinity in Angleton, will celebrate Mass, and Chris Stravitsch, co-founder of St. John Paul II Foundation, will emcee the conference.

“This is an opportunity to attend an event that will bring not just an essential part of family formation in different topics, but also it’s an opportunity to witness the importance of strengthening the marriage relationship,” said Maritza Roman, associate director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Family Life Ministry.

Organizers are expecting about 800 people to attend this year’s conference based on the success of the previous two conferences. Last year, there were 800 participants — almost double the number from the first year.

The numbers, feedback and evaluations from the two previous conferences certainly demonstrate a need for this kind of event, according to Roman. She said her office and the foundation select topics that are relevant for the times and the needs of families in today’s world, and this year’s conference is no exception.

“Participants have been very satisfied,” she said. “We bring topics that are oriented to spiritual growth.”

Founded in 2013 by Christopher Stravitsch and Arland Nichols, St. John Paul II Foundation is a national Catholic apostolate with initiatives in several dioceses. The foundation also hosts conferences for healthcare professionals with Converging Roads and clergy through Shepherd’s Heart.

The foundation, along with the Archdiocese, is hosting a Converging Roads conference on “Beginning Life Issues!” on April 8. For more information, visit www.convergingroads.com. For more about the Together In Holiness conference, visit www.togetherinholiness.org.