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Marriage retreat sets the hearts of attending couples ablaze

Dr. Lucia Luzondo speaks to the couples gathered at the archdiocese’s first-ever Marriage Encounter retreat for Hispanic couples, held at Church of the Holy Cross in Overland Park on June 2. Her husband, Dr. Ricardo Luzondo, also spoke at the event. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

by Juan Pablo Cardenas
Special to The Leaven

OVERLAND PARK — Couples from all over Johnson County came to Church of the Holy Cross here the evening of June 2 to set their hearts ablaze, but not only for each other.

The Hispanic community of Johnson County had yearned for a retreat touching on the importance and need for holy matrimony for a long time.

That desire was fulfilled by the archdiocese’s first-ever Marriage Encounter retreat for Hispanic couples.

Father Oswaldo Sandoval addresses the couples gathered at the Marriage Encounter retreat after offering an opening prayer. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Dr. Lucia Luzondo and husband Dr. Ricardo Luzondo were the keynote speakers the first night of the retreat, which continued the next day.

“If God, who is all-powerful and perfect, created us in his likeness and image . . . we are designed for his perfect plan that is opposed to what society tells us today,” said Lucia.

Delivering her message with vigor and passion, Lucia elaborated on how God’s perfect love and plan for us truly reflects how the love between man and woman in marriage should be.

Gladys Maldonado takes notes during the Marriage Encounter retreat at Holy Cross. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

God’s love reflects four major points, she said: total, free, loyal and fruitful. She encouraged couples to exemplify that same love to their spouse.

She also spoke about different communication strategies and explained how couples can work in harmony to communicate through difficulties and times of splendor.

“We tend to look at the imperfections of our spouse instead of the good within,” said Ricardo.

Ricardo Luzondo speaks to those gathered at the Marriage Encounter retreat at Holy Cross. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

He dove deeper into communication and had couples write down not only the things they loved about each other, but also the things that they didn’t — and how focusing on the latter ends up damaging marriages and all relationships.

“The number one goal of the devil is to destroy marriages at any stage. . . . Then there are no holy matrimonies to uphold the church as we know it,” said Ricardo.

Stressing the importance of fruitful and caring communication no matter the situation is key to living in harmony with each other, he said.

Couples at the Marriage Encounter retreat were encouraged to share about their marriages. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

“We have learned that before we get into arguments, disagreements, misunderstandings or even . . .  something good,” said Holy Cross parishioner Samir Antonio Moron, “to always ask God for his guidance and to express ourselves in a way that will cultivate and maintain a holy marriage.

“I think it’s an important step to not take this lightly. And while there is more understanding, power and tools to act accordingly . . . as a couple, it will benefit each other to have a better socialization and cohabitation.”

Couples at the Marriage Encounter retreat share a special moment. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

The couples felt as if they were truly heard and were not alone in any of the trials and tribulations that they faced in their marriage.

“We loved the sincerity and honesty from the speakers,” said Holy Cross parishioner Gabriel Caceres. “With the topics, we could realize that all marriages go through difficult and similar situations that are completely normal.  . . . We know it is our responsibility to fight and move forward with God always guiding our path.

“Any and all couples would benefit from this [retreat]; in fact, it should happen more often.”

Gabriel Cáceres shares his experience during a marriage retreat on June 2 at Holy Cross Church in Overland Park. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

None of this would have been possible without all the support and work that was put into making the retreat happen.

Karla Melgar, consultant in the archdiocesan office of adult evangelization, and Sister Monica Arguello, SCTJM, a consultant in the archdiocese’s office  of marriage and family life, helped organize the event.

“We are in need of holy marriages to be a beacon of light for all humanity,” said Sister Monica. “We need a society with love, life, truth and solidarity, and that begins within the nucleus of the family.

“It is foundational that we build up solid marriages and equip them with all the treasures that our mother, the church, offers them. . . . We are blessed to have the support of Archbishop Naumann and the vicar for Hispanics, Father Michael Hermes.”

Sister Monica Bernadette Arguello speaks to those gathered at the Marriage Encounter retreat. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

The retreat was full of many more topics and spiritual growth for the couples that attended throughout the weekend. They learned about many different strategies and opportunities for the betterment of the domestic church.

Sister Monica has hopes for much more in the future.

“The next area that we will be serving and having a Marriage Encounter retreat will be this fall for the Southern, Lawrence and Topeka regions,” she said. “We will make sure to announce these opportunities and open the doors to many couples.”

The vocation of marriage is a path to holiness, but the adventure is never easy. With the right spiritual direction, resources and love, God truly takes all things and makes them new.

To view more photos from the retreat, click here.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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