Tetere, Solomon Islands, 19 October 2021 -- The Sacrament of Marriage is one of the least celebrated sacraments here. This is due to the cultural, social, and religious barriers that exist in Melanesia. There are several problems: bride price and related issues, inter-denominational marriages and the promiscuous practices prevalent in society. These prevent our Catholics from receiving the Sacrament of Marriage.
Most marriages in our parish are traditional customary marriages. Many Catholics have suffered in their faith and sacraments due to these practices. “I have seen many women and men come and receive only a blessing from the priest during the distribution of Holy Communion. They miss out on the real person, Jesus, in their life”, said Fr Robinson. “It pains me too as a parish priest to see so many good and active Catholics live in this anguish and pain. Hence, we decided to venture into these situations in the hope that they can understand their situation, deal with their problems, and rectify their situation in life. After several rounds of faith formation for mothers and fathers, we have succeeded in organizing a marriage preparation course for the customary married couples”, he said.
The three-day course began on Friday 15 October 2021 with 23 couples registering for the course. Topics like the relevance of Sacrament of Marriage and Church teachings on marriage were held to help them to resolve most of these existing problems.
On the first day Fr. Casper Charles spoke to the participants about Understanding Marriage as a Sacrament and Spirituality in Marriage. Speaking on the importance of prayer in the family life of a married couple was parish priest Fr. Robinson Parappilly sdb, who also taught them to pray the Lectio Divina using Bible passages.
Sr. Madel from the Chancery Services was the first speaker on the second day and spoke about Enhancing Communication and Resolving Marriage Conflict. Sr. Claudia FMA, spoke about the Theology of the Body. Sr. Daly and Mrs. Manase of Good Shepherd Hospital cleared their understanding about Natural Family Planning and Procreation of Children and baby care.
Fr. Robinson also dealt with many topics like Hidden Dangers in Married life, Duties and responsibilities of parents in married life and the Sacrament of Marriage in the catechism of the Catholic Church.
One of the participants, Mr. Francis Thugea expressed his gratitude and said, “This has been one of the most important instructions for marriage. We never had these instructions before. We have learned here how to make our homes to be reflections of the Holy Family. We have been living for many years without the Sacrament of Marriage and now we are grateful to the parish for organising this valuable program for us. I have seen couples receive the sacrament of marriage but have missed out on these relevant issues.”
Expressing her gratitude in tears was Mrs. Mariana Hasau, wife of our teacher from Don Bosco, Henderson, who said, “We were born Catholic but were not raised as Catholics and spent our time with other churches and lost the Catholic faith. Now we understand the true church and the importance of the sacraments. Now we are really happy that we have received the right instructions about family life and marriage. Some of our families are broken families with many problems. Now we are learning to resolve the problems.”
“We were married for the past 25 years, and we missed out on Holy Communion and the sacraments. We really missed Jesus and we were living in deep-rooted sin. Now God has brought us for this renewal, and I am extremely happy for this opportunity offered by the parish to come back to the Catholic Church and receive the Sacrament of Marriage and Holy Communion”, one of the mums Mrs. Rodah Reivotu said as she wept bitterly.
Other participants including Mr. Peter Manebosa, Mrs. Susan Koti, Mr. Peter Chanel, and Mr John Kudo, also shared the same sentiments and expressed their gratitude saying they learned a lot and were very happy that they would now be able to have a better approach to the challenges that they face in their married life.
The couples enjoyed themselves and were very grateful. They now look forward to the blessing of their marriages on 31 October 2021.