SALT LAKE CITY — Married couples in the Diocese of Salt Lake City are invited to participate in the National Marriage Week Annual Diocesan Mass and Celebration on Saturday, Feb. 11 at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
“Annual National Marriage Week and Marriage Sunday is something we do every year because the Church wants us to understand the importance of the Sacrament of Marriage and wants us to celebrate and support and promote marriages and families,” said Crystal Painter, director of the diocesan Office of Family Life. “This is a wonderful opportunity for couples in the diocese no matter how long they’ve been married. This is one time each year for couples to come together as married couples and celebrate our sacrament and have a date night as well. I really encourage couples to find a babysitter and take time to come and celebrate their vocation.”
The event, titled “Banquet of Love, The Eucharist as Weekly Marriage Enrichment,” will begin with a Mass. Following the Mass, there will be a blessing of marriages and a group renewal of vows for couples who would like to participate.
Afterward, dinner will be served in the hall next to the church, and the third session of Jim and Maureen Otremba’s marriage enrichment class, which is being offered online by the diocese, will be livestreamed. Those in attendance will be able to interact with the presenters. At the end of the evening, couples celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries such as their 25th or 50th will be recognized, followed by a champagne toast and the marriage prayer.
In their course, the Otrembas break down the individual elements of the Mass and apply them to marriage.
“What I love about this is there are a lot of connections to be made between marriage the sacrament and the Eucharist,” Painter said. “What they do in the ‘Banquet of Love’ is just that; they walk you through the Mass and all of its beauty and connect it to all of the beauty of marriage.”
The session during the Feb. 11 event will focus on the Introductory Rite – or what the Otrembas call the gathering rite — of the Mass.
“The key thing we talk about with the gathering rite is the interplay between predictability and possibility,” said Maureen Otremba, referring to the formalized elements of the Mass (predictability) along with the ever changing elements such as the readings, music and preaching (possibility).
“The connection we draw between the interplay between predictability and possibility is it is the same in marriage,” she said. “There is a degree of predictability that is essential to make a marriage work: I’ve got to be able to rely on you when you say you’re going to do something, for example; but there’s got to be possibility, too. There’s got to be freshness; there’s got to be surprise; there’s got to be growth.”
Otremba encourages couples who wish to get the most out of this event to visit the diocesan website to view the first two sessions of the program. However, this session can stand on its own, she said. “Come as you are. There will be something in this for you even if you weren’t able to do the first two sessions. We believe that anybody that accesses this program in whatever format is going to be touched by the Lord in some way.”
“Marriages need feeding, and marriages are work, and our culture doesn’t want to seem to recognize that,” she added. “Our entertainment, our music, our commercial representations of marriage often don’t acknowledge that it’s work. Every relationship that is worth having is work and work is good, but we’ve got to be nourished. We’ve got to have help and Jesus gives us that help in the Eucharist every week.”
The Otrembas have presented retreats based on the Banquet of Love workbook across the nation for more than 12 years. This is the first time they have offered it as an online course. Jim Otremba has master’s degrees in divinity and applied psychology. He is a licensed therapist and Catholic lifestyle coach. Maureen Otremba holds a Master of Theology. They are the authors of “Fully Engaged,” a Catholic, pre-marital inventory and formation program used in several dioceses in the United States.
The Annual Diocesan Marriage Celebration will be Saturday, Feb. 11, beginning with Mass at 5 p.m. in St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church 1375 E. Spring Lane, Holladay. The dinner will be in the parish hall. Registration required; visit https://www.dioslc.org/events/70.