Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles

By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles

MOSS BLUFF — It was Jason and Kelly Vines’ first time attending the Together in Holiness marriage enrichment day on April 13 at Camp Karol. Presented by the St. John Paul II Foundation and the Diocese of Lake Charles, the Vines — who are parishioners of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Ragley — were among 45 couples who took time to learn about ways to foster virtue in their marriage.

“Jason and I have good communication with each other, but we can still learn better ways of doing it,” Kelly said of their five-year marriage. “Making a conscious effort to communicate effectively is important to us. We are always focused on trying to improve our marriage.”

Katie and Tommy McGrady, hosts of Family Mass Prep on Hallow,
were part of a local panel during the "Together in Holiness"
marriage conference at Camp Karol in Moss Bluff on April 13.
The couple shared advice along with Father Whitney Miller,
Director of Diocesan Counseling Services, on how spouses
can practice virtue in their marriages.

The fourth annual conference in the diocese featured national author, speaker, and podcaster Danielle Bean, with a focus on “Family, a School of Virtue.” Mass was celebrated by Bishop Glen John Provost, and time was set aside for Eucharistic Adoration, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and one-on-one time for couples.

Virtue defined in the classical sense of Catholic theology is that habit of goodness, Bishop Provost noted in his homily.

“When we live a life of virtue, we catch people’s attention,” he said. “Whether those virtues are generosity, chastity, understanding, knowledge, courage, strength, fortitude, and so forth, we want to make it habitual where we do it without being aware.”

Danielle Bean, author, podcaster, and national speaker, offered
practical tips to couples during her talk, “The Family: A School
of Virtue,” during the fourth annual “Together in Holiness”
marriage conference on April 13. Bean also presented a talk
on “Overcoming Challenges to Living a Virtuous Life”
to the 45 couples in attendance.

The bishop continued, “When someone does good without realizing they are doing good because it is second nature to them, is what virtue means. They did it because it was part of them. They don’t have to say anything. They just act.”

Bean reminded the couples that we are all learning to be virtuous and that it is something that takes practice in their marriages.

“In the family, you can be living out that practice of virtue every single day in ways the world will never see, or applaud, or understand,” Bean remarked. “It is such a beautiful, holy, and sacred thing that we do in our family lives. If it is hard, that is part of the deal.”

This was the fourth year for Lamar and Adrienne Mayo to attend Together in Holiness. Parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, they will celebrate their 10th anniversary on May 3 and are the parents of three children between the ages of 9 and 4 years old.

Bishop Glen John Provost celebrated Mass for the couples attending
the fourth annual “Together in Holiness” marriage conference at
Camp Karol on April 13. He reminded them that living a life
of virtue catches people’s attention and it is something that takes
practice in their marriage.

“Every year I walk away with one or two things I take with me to reflect on,” said Lamar. “It is an opportunity to get away with your spouse and the topics offer conversations starters to talk about later, maybe things you never thought about that can help you both grow in holiness as a family.”

The format of the day is doable for couples with busy family schedules, and the child care option is an added bonus.

“I enjoy attending this marriage conference year after year because it is only one day, making it easy to fit in,” said Adrienne. “I like the retreat atmosphere in a relaxing setting. I also enjoy seeing and visiting other couples we know who are on the same journey.”

Returning for their second year were Dr. Brian and Becky Clements from St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. Married for 34 years now, the empty nesters raised three children and have four grandchildren with one on the way. They both agree that they are experiencing more joy in their lives now than they ever have.

“Our lives are not as hectic in many ways, so it is nice to listen to the speakers and think about how we did things and watch our children getting to that stage of life,” Brian remarked.

Father Whitney Miller, Director of Diocesan Counseling Services,
was among the guest speakers on the local panel for the
“Together in Holiness” marriage conference on April 13.
Father Miller offered tips on how couples can use non-violent
communication with one another.

Even though Becky said she grieved as each of her children left home, having an “empty nest” has given her the opportunity to “reconnect with the person who I fell in love with without all the daily tasks of taking care of children.” She was glad to see so many younger couples making time for each other by attending the conference.

“Danielle spoke about the family unit reflecting the love of God. That is where children learn that God is merciful and forgiving,” Becky said. “I am glad to see the younger couples here who are hearing that message at a younger age than we ever heard it. It is nice to step back and observe the new families forming and growing.”

A local panel featured Tommy and Katie McGrady, hosts of Family Mass Prep on Hallow, and Rev. Whitney Miller, PhD, LPC, Director of Diocesan Counseling Services. The McGradys are parishioners of St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church. The trio offered advice on “Thriving, Not Just Surviving: Virtues of a Joyful Marriage.”

Tommy emphasized that effective communication, thriving in marriage and finding joy comes out of authenticity with one another. He remarked, “That requires continual self-reflection which happens from your prayer life.”

Katie said a good question for couples to ask themselves is “What are we doing to foster joy in our marriage and in our home?”

“Jesus doesn’t call us to stay in survival mode, he calls us to thriving mode,” she said. “To move from survival to thriving requires making joy with each other in your home the priority.”

Days like Together in Holiness remind couples that they are not alone in their struggles.

“If you are struggling to live out an authentically Catholic marriage and family life, there is nothing wrong with you. Everybody struggles,” said Bean. “We all face different challenges, but there are things we have in common. It is so important to not go through it alone.”

Learn more about the St. John Paul II Foundation and its initiative, Together in Holiness at https://forlifeandfamily.org/together-in-holiness/

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