By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
“It’s not very hard in society today to understand that marriages are struggling,” said Tony Knobbe, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. “I would argue marriages have been struggling throughout time. Read the Bible, you’ll see it. But, especially today.”
Knobbe shared this thought during a Vision 20/20 Convocation presentation, “How to Evangelize Married Couples” at St. Ambrose University in June. Joining him on stage were his wife of 37 years, Lorene Knobbe, and Ryan Burchett, a deacon candidate who has been married for 20 years. All three are involved in marriage ministry at St. Paul the Apostle.
Tony Knobbe said he believes that ministries for married couples at the parish level are rare. “I called around to every priest I knew, every friend, every relative in another parish, Protestant ministers that I knew (who) were good friends. My question was the same to everyone: ‘What are you doing in your parish to support healthy Christian marriage?’ The answer was the same. Crickets, followed by ‘That’s a great idea. We should do something.’”
St. Paul the Apostle has been experimenting with programming for married couples. Some things have worked well, others need tweaking, the speakers said. They shared some of these ideas during their presentation and also gave the audience an opportunity to share ideas and insights.
Lorene Knobbe believes that supporting married couples helps the church as a whole. “If we support the marriages in our parish and can be role models for good Christian marriage, we encourage strong families. Those strong families then strengthen our parish. Our strong families then produce confident children ready to learn. Our strong families encourage all vocations, including religious vocations.”
This presentation on ministering to married couples is available online via podcast at https://diocese-of-davenport.simplecast. com. A video recording can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y5xjtocw. Most of the presentations from the Vision 20/20 Convocation are available for viewing and listening. Topics include: sharing faith stories; reaching out to families; evangelizing youths and young adults; evangelizing in smaller parishes; evangelizing in an age of secularism, atheism and scientism; hospitality; immigrant voices; and church teaching on sexuality and sexual identity.