As group thrives, young marrieds launch website to spread concept
by Joyce A. Mitchell
OVERLAND PARK — After the excitement of the wedding day has passed and a couple settles into marriage, keeping faith in the mix with bill paying, careers and in-laws can be a challenge.
A group for young married couples at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park hopes its ideas can help similar groups get up and running with fewer hiccups.
James Moburg and his wife Angela had brainstormed with their pastor, Msgr. Tom Tank, and two other couples, Samantha and Andrew Stanley and Kate and Ignacio Contreras. The parish’s previous ministry for young couples had faded as the families grew into not-so-newly-marrieds.
Initial activities last fall to Louisburg Cider Mill and a winery drew only one or two couples. And although recent monthly mixers brought together more members, the still-evolving group has now scrapped the social events.
“A lot of people guard their time,” said James Moburg, and social events don’t seem to rank as high as the activities for spiritual growth. For its gatherings on the second and fourth Wednesdays, the group now incorporates extra time for socializing.
The group began to thrive when a Lenten faith-sharing opportunity was offered to the couples, most of whom have been married fewer than five years. The weekly study, “Connection to the Cross,” provided a format that solidified the group and attracted more couples. The short chapters meant light reading, a helpful aspect for people trying to balance careers with faith — and possibly infants and toddlers.
After Lent, 20 couples took part in reading a book suggested by Msgr. Tank, “Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage,” by Greg and Lisa Popcak. Moburg found the book “absolutely relevant,” and a familiar name, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, had written a glowing review.
“Just Married” covered expectations, roles and finances related to the early years of marriage.
“The topics are always easy for people to jump in and share,” said Moburg. Infants nap in car seats or crawl around during the sessions, which include prayer, Scripture, and discussion of the current chapter.
“I think seeing kids is inspiring for other couples considering growing their own family,” he said, “and it seems like parents are quick to share feeding, sleeping or other parenting tips with other parents.”
Getting the word out about a group is a challenge, even as communication methods have multiplied. An email from the pastor, especially if the parish has a good current database, is a great awareness boost, he said.
Facebook is a great tool, but “even some people in their 20s and 30s don’t get on Facebook often,” said Moburg. Besides posting events on Facebook, email reminders keep others abreast of the activities.
Father Nathan Haverland, Ascension’s associate pastor, brings in new members by telling couples going through marriage preparation classes about the group. And Moburg admits, “Sometimes we stalk them a little at church,” visiting with couples as they leave Mass.
With the group firmly established, Moburg decided to buy a domain name for a website, www.YoungMarrieds.org.
“We intentionally bought a generic name so maybe we can provide ideas to other parishes,” he said. “We don’t feel we have a secret recipe down, but we can point people to tools.”
“As we begin developing the site with calendars, photos, resources and possibly a blog, we hope the site can be used for other parishes as well, and other young couples may be able to either start or find a group geographically through a subdomain,” said Moburg.
The site will also provide links to other faith-building groups geared toward young Catholics. Couples seeking social activities can find information about the School of Love, an archdiocesan initiative that meets the first Thursday of the month.
“Ultimately, it’s inspiring to us to see the transformation in people’s lives through faith-based organizations,” said Moburg.
For its fall study, the group voted from among six books. The winner was “Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution,” by Christopher West.
“We just started it,” said Moburg, “so newcomers will find it easy to catch up.”
How to join
For details about the group or the fall series, which meets on Oct. 8, contact James Moburg at (913) 981-3906 or send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The group rotates locations, meeting in the homes of several couples. All are welcome.