“This COVID-19 experience has been almost like a rediscovery of what is essential about life, and that relationships are at the heart of it,” he said.
As they had already been working on a new “mystagogia” series for marriage renewal, one that covered five years’ worth of content as part of a five-step process, the Verrets saw the pandemic as a chance to help couples, launching their “Be Light” series online for families around country quarantined at home.
The Verrets initially planned a virtual date night for couples within the “Witness to Love” ministry. When they saw widespread demand outside their community, however, they decided to open the date night up to everyone, free of charge.
From April 26-30, the “Be Light” program launched as a “toe in the water” to measure the need; soon the Verrets will relaunch their program as part of a “much broader” effort, collaborating with more parishes and dioceses than before.
Within a few hours of the program being offered online, almost 1,500 people from nine countries signed up. Dioceses and parishes have also asked to host their own date nights with the Verrets’ program, saying they wanted to tailor the virtual events to the local levels.
“I think one of the most exciting things, from my perspective, was that parishes and dioceses took such a personal ownership of this date night,” Mary Rose said.
What they will offer parishes and dioceses is a concrete way to connect with parishioners in a time of widespread isolation, and stay connected. Many parishes, especially those in low-income or rural areas, have been effectively cut off from their parishioners during the pandemic, and married couples are feeling isolated from their wider community.
Each date night will feature 12 to 14 minutes of video content, followed by three discussion questions, and then one to two questions for couples to discuss in small groups.
“It’s really an on-ramp” to stronger communities and marriages, Mary Rose said.
With many churches around the country closed, it is critical that Catholic families at home rediscover the importance of the “domestic church,” the Verrets told CNA.
“The altar in the church doesn’t really make sense to families if they’re not really having an experience at their own kitchen table,” Ryan said.
And the “Be Light” series aims to galvanize families to rediscover their baptismal vocation.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“We have to help marriages understand that they are the light. They are the light that’s going to draw people back,” Mary Rose said. “It’s not just Father or Deacon’s job to do evangelization.”
The current conditions offer a limited-time-opportunity for couples and parishes to connect and form deeper bonds, they said. Once quarantines lift and society reopens, the window now open for a kind of intensive focus and development could close.
“If they [parishes] don’t sort of seize an opportunity to kind of distinguish themselves,” Ryan said, “then it’s going to be a breaking point. People are going to disconnect permanently.”
The five-step “Be Light” process will be released again starting in June, with a new date night released each month for five months.
The five steps are “belong, believe, become, beatitude, and be light.” They cover five years’ worth of material, Ryan explained, as couples are statistically more likely to divorce within the first five years of marriage.
Each step will provide couples a building block, hopefully strengthening their bond to a point where they can serve as a light to other married couples.