SIMPSONVILLE – Language shouldn’t be a barrier for couples trying to figure out if they are ready for the lifetime commitment of a loving and sacramental marriage.
That’s why, St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville started offering Catholic Engaged Encounter sessions in Spanish. Organizers said it is the only community in the Southeast currently doing this. The Upstate parish already hosts sessions in English, but wanted to add Spanish as an additional outreach, said Mary Reimer, who organizes the sessions with her husband Bob Reimer.
The format requires engaged couples to spend a weekend with two married couples who offer presentations on a wide variety of topics conducive to a successful marriage, including communication, finances, stewardship and intimacy. The engaged men and women then write down their perspectives and responses on each topic, and discuss them with each other.
The Reimers have been involved with Engaged Encounter for about eight years, and consider it an important resource for couples before they take their vows.
“The emphasis is on living a sacramental lifestyle in the vocation of marriage, and it provides tools for the engaged couple to use as they face challenges throughout their married life,” Mrs. Reimer said. “One of the most important things is communication. A lot of times people say money is the main reason married couples split, but if you don’t talk you’re not going to stay together.”
The first Spanish weekend drew only three couples.
Alejandro and Paola Munoz of Greenville were one of the couples who gave presentations. Mrs. Munoz, 31, said they both wish they could have attended a session while they were engaged.
“I would have loved to go through it because as we were preparing and doing the talks, we had to reconnect on a whole different level,” she said. “It’s amazing how we as a married couple became closer from considering these topics, and it would have been great to have this when we were engaged.”
Mrs. Munoz said several of the couples who attended told her they appreciated that the presenters made themselves vulnerable and discussed their experiences in a frank and honest way.
“The weekend offers tools you can use throughout your marriage,” she explained. “The topics are things a lot of couples don’t even consider, and you might not be ready for marriage if you don’t address them. Problems can come up later in marriage if you don’t discuss these things, and some couples might even realize they need to hold off and postpone the wedding until they work some things out.”
The next Spanish Engaged Encounter is being planned for the fall. To learn more about the program or to register for a future session, visit www.cee-sc.org.