Word Alive--Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD—Phil. News


Couples are invited to join a MEr weekend seminar Oct. 6-7 in Hayward, Calif., presented by this columnist.

Together after 18 years apart


Let me share an inspiring story, testifying  to the transformative effect of Marriage Encounter on troubled couples.

In 1973, Fred and Mila de Guzman (not their real names) exchanged “I do’s” in a solemn wedding ceremony in church.

                            * * *

After the wedding and honeymoon, both Fred and Mila were still floating on Cloud 9. But they could not live on love alone. So Fred resumed his real estate business while Mila took care of their new home.

Soon their first child was born, followed by a second after a year. But barely two years after, Mila had been hearing rumors that Fred was having an affair with his office secretary.  Confronted about it, Fred would just brush it aside.

                            * * *

As the days went by, Mila’s intuition told her that the business trips were more of “monkey business.” True enough a few months later, Fred started to come home late regularly, triggering off endless fights and quarrels.

It didn’t take long when Fred dropped out of sight completely. “This lasted for 18 years! We had no Sta. Claus for that long and our Christmases were really sad and painful,” Mila reminisced.

                            * * *

Within the span of 18 years, Fred had been living with the other woman, eventually siring two children. Despite the broken marriage, Fred didn’t lose his generous spirit. He had been supporting the schooling of a seminarian son of a family friend.

One day, the mother of the seminarian told him something that jolted his senses. “Kumpare, I appreciate your generosity but what you’re doing,  having a second family, is not right.” “Why don’t you straighten your life?” she added, “How about joining our Marriage Encounter community?” 

                            * * *

“The words kept ringing in my ears and brought me to my senses,” Fred  confessed.  “Eventually, that led me and my wife to the door of a marriage rebirth,” he said.

“My wife and I were crying out of shame and guilt in that ME weekend,” he said. “I realized how I had desecrated the ‘sacrament’ of our marriage.”

                            * * *

After that eye-opener, Fred resolved to sort out the mess he created and returned to where they began. “The re-entry of Fred was difficult,” Mila related. It took eight months to work out things with his live-in partner.

The other woman decided to go abroad and started a new life there. As for their two kids, Fred and Mila took them into their home.

                            * * *

Looking back, Mila said, “I considered the whole experience a ‘miracle.’ Imagine 18 years of separation with no hope of ever reconciling.

“Because of our experience, Fred and I have been giving talks as presenting couple in ME weekends and our family with the two ‘adopted children’ has been active in Family Encounters.

                            * * *

“For married couples who have similar problem as ours, there’s hope,” Fred and Mila affirm. “All that’s needed is the spirit of forgiveness and openness to begin a new life.” Also, a support group like the Marriage Encounter community helps immensely.

* * *

BY THE WAY…Couples who wish to enrich and reinvigorate their married lives are invited to join a Marriage Encounter weekend seminar in Hayward, CA on October 6-7 to be conducted by the Marriage Encounter of North California. I will serve as presenting priest. For further inquiry, contact Ofie-Jerry Martinez at tel. 510-8872171 or e-mail Ofie at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

                            * * *

            SVD FOUNDATION. The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) to which I belong marked its 137th Foundation Anniversary last September 8. The German founder St. Arnold Janssen, who had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother, chose to inaugurate his mission congregation on her birthday in 1875.

            * * *

To date there are 137 Filipino SVD priests and brothers working in 40 countries,  making the SVD the biggest missionary "exporter."

SVD priests and brothers in the Philippines are involved in the apostolates of parishes, seminaries, justice and peace, mass media, evangelization of indigenous and ethnic Filipinos like the Filipino-Chinese in Dagupan, in St. Jude Parish and St. Jude Catholic School in Manila.

* * *

THE LIGHER SIDE.A Jesuit and a Dominican were quarreling about whose order was the greatest. The Jesuit insisted theirs is the greatest; so with the Dominican. They could not resolve the issue so they elevated the matter to the Lord.

            * * *

A note reached both parties with the message: “Stop quarrelling. All of you are great. Besides, I do not favor any religious congregation.” Signed: “Jesus Christ, SVD.”

Jesus is indeed an SVD. Listen: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord SVD” (is with Thee).





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