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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Familia and Lexington Diocese Co-sponsor National Marriage Conference
National conference was the result of collaboration between a Regnum Christi program and the diocese.

Familia Lexington conference
Participants socialize during a break between talks.

August 11, 2009. Lexington, KY. The recent National Marriage Conference sponsored by Familia and the Diocese of Lexington was one more example of how Regnum Christi programs and apostolates can help meet the pastoral goals of the local dioceses.

“It was wonderful to see one of our apostolates working so closely together with a diocese in a national event,” said Father Emilio Diaz-Torre, LC.

The first National Marriage Conference took place this past weekend, August 7 and 8, 2009 at Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Kentucky.  The event included presentations from Familia and diocesan leaders and speakers on the topics of marriage, family, and parenting.  People from across the country as well as local couples, including several deacons and their wives from the Lexington diocese and surrounding areas, participated in the weekend events.

Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Lexington diocese, one of the presenters at the event, mentioned during his homily at the closing Mass at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church that he was pleased with the work
Bishop at consecration
Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Lexington diocese encourages the conference attendees to remember that the Eucharist is the source and summit of faith and family life.
Familia had done in his diocese.  He then led the husbands and wives there in a renewal of wedding vows.

“I don’t think I have ever looked around a church and seen so much joy between couples,” said Steve Becker, Familia Men’s Training Coordinator, after the Mass.  “And that doesn’t happen by accident.”  

The Bishop exhorted those in attendance to remember that the Eucharist is the source and summit of faith and family life.  And he encouraged those at the conference to follow the daily example in Scripture on the life of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ child.

Speakers and topics

Father Steve Roberts, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Lexington, also was a presenter at the event.  Father Roberts received his doctor of medicine degree in 1989 with a specialty in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and he discussed communicating the intricacies of bioethics and Church teaching in our modern age.  He emphasized the need for evangelizers to “tell the truth, but tell in well” with an attitude of “enthusiasm and joy.”  He also said that religious orders and lay apostolates like Familia have arisen to combat the modern trend in the culture to disregard the teachings of the Church.

Mike Allen, Director of the Family Life Ministries for the Diocese of Lexington, spoke on the topic “Becoming a Marriage-Building Church.”  He discussed in detail
Ed and Eddie Reinhardt
Father and son team, Ed and Eddie Reinhardt, illustrated how tragedy can actually bring blessings to a family with the help of God.
practical suggestions of how a parish can promote, communicate and catechize a “Catholic vision of marriage.”

Jean Stolpestad, Director of Marketing for Familia, one of the organizers of the event, believed the conference fulfilled its purpose.  “We wanted to help create a program to support and strengthen marriages – marriages that not just survive, but thrive.  We wanted to offer practical tools that couples could take with them and make use of immediately.  And I think we succeeded.”

Other event speakers included Art Bennett, author along with his wife, of the book The Temperament God Gave You. He discussed for parents and those who support them the topic of “How to Understand and Motivate Your Kids without the Battle.” 

Father and son team, Ed and Eddie Reinhardt, illustrated how tragedy can actually bring blessings to a family with the help of God’s grace and love.  Eddie Reinhardt was severely brain injured on the football field playing for the University of Colorado in 1984.  He was in a coma for 68 hours, and has recovered with great difficulty and perseverance, helped by the support of his parents and siblings.  Ed Reinhardt has written a book called You’re OK, Kid about his experience with his son and the importance and influence of his own father in his life.

Evaluating the impact

Kelly and Jacob Harrison from Baton Rouge, LA, one of the newest couples to be involved in Familia to attend the conference, are pleased with how the apostolate has affected their life.  Jacob
Couple stands during renewal of vows
A couple stands during the renewal of marriage vows on the last day of the conference.
said he was attracted to the Familia men’s group because he felt like he was on “an island” in an “immoral world….You think you are all alone, but then you find a group like this,” he said. “These were men I can look up to.”

Kelly wanted to get involved with a group of women with whom she felt comfortable, something she said was difficult to in today’s world.  When she met the Familia families in Baton Rouge, she said she was “blown away….We saw families we’re hoping we could be like.” 

Karen and Todd Sester, National Familia Directors, discussed the state of the Familia apostolate now and plans for the future at the Familia Annual Meeting on Friday evening, August 7.  They discussed some of the changes and improvements, like the three new programs for this year: “Men and Faith,” “Men and Work” and “Called to Prayer,” and the option of shorter Familia sessions to better meet the needs of parishes. 

Karen said she was very pleased with the outcome of the first National Marriage Conference.  “The speakers were phenomenal.  The people who attended were very happy.  God had a plan here and he accomplished it.  And this is just the beginning.  There will be a ripple effect.  People are motivated to go out and help families.”

Mike Allen said of the conference, “I was impressed by the richness of the teaching, by the deep understanding of the mystery of the human person, by the enthusiasm o f the participants.  It was just a very positive event.”  

Father Walter Schu, LC, who lead two sessions during the conference on the Theology of the Body, one for clergy and one for families, said, “It was a joy and an inspiration to be with so many beautiful couples and great families, and to be part of this new reality and see what God is bringing about here.” 

FAMILIA, sponsored by Regnum Christi, is a national apostolate of Catholic laity committed to the well-being of the family.  Using the Gospel, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Church documents, Familia’s programs help families by fostering an awareness of the need for Christ and the Church in daily family life.  For more information, go to



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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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