Marriage enrichment sessions begin next month at Nativity Church

ALLOUEZ — When a married couple drops off their youngest child at a college dormitory doorstep, the child isn’t the only one beginning a new chapter in life. So are mom and dad, the so-called “empty nesters.”

Chris and Virginia Steffes, members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Ashwaubenon, are leading a nine-week marriage enrichment program called The Choice Wine. It begins Saturday, Sept. 9. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Some couples may find this new chapter difficult to manage, as their focus was mainly on their children and not on each other, explained Deacon John Bundra of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Ashwaubenon. Reverting to life as a couple can be challenging, and that is one reason why Nativity Parish will offer a nine-week course for all married couples beginning Sept. 9.

Called “The Choice Wine: 7 Steps to a Superabundant Marriage,” the program will take place Saturday evenings immediately after the 5 p.m. Mass.

Deacon Bundra is coordinating the Choice Wine program and parishioners Chris and Virginia Steffes are serving as the lead couple. Chris Steffes, who has been accepted into the diocesan diaconate program, is using the Choice Wine program as a ministry project.

The Steffeses were among approximately 50 couples who participated in a pilot program of Choice Wine in Green Bay.

“The benefits we received from participating last spring were an increased growth in spirituality as a couple, along with meeting new people from different parishes through small groups,” said Virginia Steffes. “The program presents interesting facts that we never knew.”

Choice Wine — which takes its name from the Gospel account of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus changes water into “choice wine”— is a national ministry. It is “dedicated to the renewal of marriage and family life,” according to program founder Steve Bollman, who also developed a men’s ministry titled “That Man is You!”

The program’s goal “is to enter into the interior life of the Holy Family at Nazareth and experience their superabundant joy,” according to a Choice Wine brochure. “The seven steps provide a pathway to help couples do just that.”

The seven steps include:

  • Honor your wedding vows;
  • Use money for others;
  • Give God some of your time;
  • Set your mind on the things above;
  • Find God in yourself;
  • Find God in other people;
  • Make it easy to be good and hard to be bad.

During the nine-week program, one step is explored each week. The first week is an introduction to the program and the ninth week, titled “Foretaste of Paradise,” is a concluding session that features a banquet with renewal of wedding vows.

Each evening’s program follows a regular schedule: welcome, refreshments and opening prayer; a DVD presentation; small-group discussion; closing prayer and dismissal.

The Steffeses say Choice Wine is for couples of all ages, including engaged couples. “The target audience would also be couples looking for ways to enrich their marriages,” they said.

Space is limited to the first 150 couples. There is no cost, but a freewill offering is appreciated. To register or for more information, email [email protected] or call (920) 494-5156.

Elisa Tremblay, Marriage Ministries coordinator for the Diocese of Green Bay, encourages other parishes to consider introducing Choice Wine into their outreach to married couples. “Choice Wine is an excellent way to build up marriages in our parishes,” she said. “The small-group conversations, centered around excellent content, form lasting friendships among all the couples who attend.”

Parishes interested in the Choice Wine program can contact Tremblay at (920) 272-8315 or by email, [email protected].

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