About 50 Hispanic members of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement and their families attended this Saturday’s yearly family picnic. Despite the rain, the picnic took place under a pavilion of the Wayne A. Grube Park in Northampton.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) is an experience offered in the form of a weekend retreat for couples to reconnect to each other and to their faith. The goal of the movement is to “maintain unity among families and marriages,” said Roberto Irizarry, who experienced WWME with his wife, Helen Irizarry, in 1995.
Once a couple participates in a marriage encounter, they can join a regional community of couples who have also lived the experience. The community offers married couples monthly prayer meetings, and other activities such as the yearly picnic.
Each family brought food to share and created a large buffet for everyone to enjoy at the picnic. Members were greeted with kisses and long hugs as they arrived. There was a sense of joy in every person present at the event. Small groups formed around each table, sharing a meal, and catching up on life.
The movement is led by diocesan leaders Juan de Jesus Ocasio and his wife, Norma de Jesus Ocasio. Ocasio shared that he did a “360” after his weekend experience with his wife back in 1987. His change was so drastic that his children jokingly asked him to go back because he was no longer the same person.
The WWME community is organized by regions and each region has a parish leader, explained Ocasio. The regions consist of Easton, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Reading. The parish leaders of each region attended the picnic and took charge of grilling, leading games, and directing dances.
Ocasio invites couples to join them for a one-day retreat open to married and non-married couples on Saturday, October 14, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading. This retreat will be held in Spanish.
They are planning a WWME in 2024 and will provide details when available.
For more information on WWME, visit https://wwme.org/.
Photo by Valentin Rodriguez.