On Saturday, Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon celebrated a Mass for marriage, after calling for new marriage initiatives in his archdiocese last fall.
“…Marriage is a bond, it’s the covenant, it’s the union between a man and a woman. It should be built upon a strong foundation of faith, rooted in prayer,” Archbishop Sample said in his homily on Feb. 3 at St. Mary Cathedral in Portland, according to the Catholic Sentinel.
He asked the couples gathered, “How many married couples pray together?” saying “prayer is so important, especially in the difficult times,” and is the foundation for a strong marriage.
The Portland archbishop blessed the couples that were gathered at the Mass and also noted that their marriages were giving him strength and hope for the future.
Sample held the Mass for marriage after committing the archdiocese to four new marriage and family initiatives in September. These new efforts come in response to the Church’s 2014 and 2015 worldwide synods of bishops on the topic of marriage, which the archbishop noted was a “major priority for the whole Church throughout the world.”
The first initiative proposed for the Archdiocese of Portland was establishing the ministries of Courage and Encourage, which together provide a support network for same-sex attracted persons who are looking for chaste ways to live their lives, as well as their families.
“We must respond with love, respect and sensitivity to these persons and their families,” Sample said, according to the Catholic Sentinel.
“The Church must do a better job of educating and forming young people and adults according to the teachings of Christ, Scripture and the moral doctrine of the Church,” Sample continued.
The second new effort within the archdiocese was “for our local Church to do a better job of preparing people for marriage.”
Sample said marriage prep begins in youth, through religious education and the ways children grow to view marriage through high school, college and adulthood. He also noted that the archdiocese would be seeking out programs that would best fit existing parish and vicariate-level preparation programs.
The third initiative focuses on “providing sound resources to Catholics seeking out the services of mental health professionals that will support their life of faith,” particularly in struggling marriages.
The final focus for the archdiocese was “aimed at strengthening marriages and family life in a broader sense.” This included providing resources, materials and programs that will proactively help build strong marriages and family lives.
“If we are successful in building all of these initiatives in our Catholic schools, religious education programs, adult faith formation, parishes, vicariates and especially in our families, we will go a long way toward addressing this critical need as identified by the universal Church in our times,” Sample said.
“It will be a challenge, but with your prayers and moral and financial support, we can make it happen.”