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Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

As the the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to actively pursue resources to support and strengthen marriages, one diocesan parish is contributing its own efforts in support of marriage through the initiative of Maureen and Rob Perez, of Minocqua.

In January, the Made for Love podcast was launched through the USCCB’s “Marriage, Unique for a Reason” initiative. At the start of National Marriage Week USA – Feb. 7 – the bishops announced the updated version of their website, optimized for mobile responsiveness, was live.

On Feb. 11, at Holy Family Parish in Woodruff, couples came together for a Valentine’s-themed date night. Starting by writing love letters with conversation hearts, couples took part in what was described as a meaningful yet lighthearted way to connect with one another. They went on to learn and share about the treasure of their marriage and how to strengthen their commitment to faithfulness.

This took place as part of the parish’s ongoing Couples in Christ ministry, which uses a Happy Together program called “The Beatitudes: A Couple’s Path to Greater Joy.”

An average of 15-20 couples and their families gather for a potluck meal on the second Monday of the month. Women of the parish provide childcare that includes play, projects and a brief catechism lesson.

For the couples – who are at various ages and stages of life – there is a video presentation with questions for discussion in small groups and as individual couples. Each month is facilitated by a different couple from the parish’s marriage ministry team.

“We really wanted a date night,” said Maureen. With so many needs vying for families’ attention, she sees these encounters as a gift spouses can give to each other. “The very most important thing in our life is our marriage, and how much time do we really focus on making it as awesome as it can be.”

Participants are coming from the immediate area and as far as Rhinelander and Wausau. Maureen said the response has been very rewarding. She emphasized, “The people who are coming absolutely love it.”

The Perezes moved to the area from Wausau two years ago. They had previously been part of the Engaged Enrichment program in Milwaukee, and as members of the diocesan board, helped to write the diocese’s program. They pulled back from their involvement when the couple discerned their own family needed to remain the priority.

With their children now grown, and aware that Fr. Aaron Devett wanted to start something for couples, the Perezes felt moved to get involved. They started by forming a marriage ministry team to select a marriage-strengthening program and help facilitate meetings.

Maureen shared that the team was shocked at “how difficult it was to find Catholic marriage material.” Clarifying that she wasn’t complaining, rather sharing her experience, she wondered why there aren’t more readily available resources for such an “incredibly important” need.

Through this outreach, a committed group is being formed. Several of the ministry team couples attended a Dynamic Catholic marriage retreat, Passion and Purpose for Marriage, in Madison last spring with Dr. Allen Hunt. The preliminary motive was to assess the possibility of bringing a similar event to Holy Family.

Maureen was personally blown away by Hunt’s presentations. Describing herself as part of the “Twitter society” who has a hard time sitting still and staying focused, she said, “He literally had me on the edge of my seat for five hours. I was just riveted by what he was saying.”

She was “blown away” – at times in tears and at other times laughing. “He weaved so many different things through his talk,” Maureen said. From the positive shared experiences, the team decided to pursue their own Passion and Purpose for Marriage event.

On Aug. 18, Holy Family, Woodruff, will host what is described as “an event that can take your relationship to a whole new level.” It will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased at under Events.

Maureen reported the marriage ministry team met recently and has promoters for the event committed locally and in the Wausau and Madison areas. They are hoping for representation from across the diocese and seeking others to be part of their promotions team.

For more information on Couples in Christ or the marriage seminar, contact Perez at or 715-297-3314.