Marriage at the Heart of the Church

29 Aug 2013

Conference image

Marriage at the Heart of the Church

The Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Episcopal Conference has been busy organising its first national conference.  This will take place at the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth on Saturday 28 September 2013, 9.30 am – 4.30 pm.  While the Council hopes the event will be of particular interest to people from dioceses, parishes, as well as other associations who work to support marriage and family, all are welcome. Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin and outgoing chair of the Council, will host the conference.

The format of this one-day event has been through several drafts, as anyone who has embarked on a similar project will appreciate.  At the outset, we wanted to do everything.  We would explore family in all its dimensions, shades and hues – family in Irish society today, family in difficulty, family under threat, and so forth.

However, as the conversation progressed it became clear that it would be valuable to invest this first conference day in exploring and deepening our sense of marriage and family. It is, after all, the place where adults commit themselves fully in relationship and so fulfil their deepest human identity. It is also where not only life but also the Christian faith is first encountered and the Christian call is lived.  This vision places marriage at the heart of the Church.  At the same time it is rooted in the real situations of daily life.

Please click here to download the Conference Brochure

Please click here to download the Conference Flyer (you may wish to print this out as display as a poster in your parish)

The aims of the Conference

This event is designed to (1) introduce publicly the Council for Marriage and Family, (2) invite a wide network of individuals and groups into collaboration with the Council and (3) provide opportunity for participants to explore together and at depth the vision of marriage and family in Catholic theology and spirituality today.

The programme

The conference programme will facilitate maximum involvement of participants. The Council is eager to hear their views and ideas based on their experience.  There will be two presentations from our guest speaker who is profiled below. Each presentation will be the basis of group conversations leading to extended dialogue.

Guest Speaker 

Stijn Van den Bossche is married to Grace and they have three grown-up children.  He has a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of Leuven.  He is secretary-general of an Interdiocesan Commission for Catechesis in the Bishops’ Conference of Belgium. He is also involved in theological training of lay people for teaching and pastoral work. At the Leuven he teaches a course of theology of marriage.

Stijn’s area of interest is church renewal, theology of the sacraments, and faith initiation. His publications include ‘On the Gift of the Sacrament of Marriage’, in Studies in Liturgy, 89 (4), 238-259.

Stijn is also member of the staff of the Ignatian Center for Spirituality in Drongen (near Ghent). There, he collaborated last year in a new catechetical-spiritual course on marriage, consisting of ten evenings. The general theme of the course was: how does marriage teach us what being a Christian is about, how does being a Christian teach us what marriage is about?

For further information and to ensure a place in this conference contact:  [email protected].