WALDFISCHBACH-BURGALBEN, GERMANY – Six Catholic couples based at U.S. Military installations throughout Europe spent the weekend in southwest Germany on a Marriage Enrichment Retreat sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). The July 8-10 retreat took place at the Maria Rosenberg Retreat Center in Waldfischbach-Burgalben, about a 25-minute drive from Ramstein Air Base. The time of reflection was facilitated by Mark Moitoza, Th.D., D. Min., AMS Vice-Chancellor for Evangelization. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, was on hand and celebrated Holy Mass with the couples.
The couples traveled hundreds of miles across Europe for the gathering, coming to Waldfischbach-Burgalben from U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Wiesbaden and USAG Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany, Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella in Italy, and Naval Support Activity (NSA) Rota in Spain. They spent the two and a half days in prayer, group sessions, and dialogue, using the REFOCCUS Marriage Enrichment Inventory, a program developed by FOCCUS, Inc. USA, of the Archdiocese of Omaha. FOCCUS stands for “Facilitate Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study.”
Using short presentations in the REFOCCUS inventory tool as a guide, the couples explored topics such as marriage as a process, intimacy, compatibility, communication, and commitment. In post-retreat evaluations, the couples said the encounter gave them fresh ideas for how to strengthen their marriages. Typical of the comments were these:
- “Hearing and learning from other couples’ experiences made me realize we are not alone, that God does bless couples who remain faithful to Him.”
- “It was wonderful to reconnect with my husband and to get to know and learn from other wonderful couples.”
- “The group experiences were very enlightening, you see that others may be going through some of the same problems/issues you go through.”
- “This helps me refocus on our relationship with God and His importance in our marriage.”
- “Christ is at the center of my marriage. My husband is wonderful, and I am so blessed to have married him.”
This was the sixth Marriage Enrichment Retreat the AMS has sponsored for Catholic military couples over the past four-and-a-half years. In a sign of the importance he places on the vocation of marriage, particularly within the transient military lifestyle, Archbishop Broglio has written on the topic and participated in all five previous AMS Marriage Enrichment Retreats, which were held Feb. 16-18, 2018, in Marriottsville, MD; Dec. 7-9, 2018, in Alhambra, CA; Sept. 27-29, 2019, in San Angelo, TX; Dec. 6-8, 2019, in Assisi, Italy; and Oct. 1-3, 2021, in Atlanta, GA.
“Marriage is indeed a union most sacred and serious,” Archbishop Broglio wrote in a 2010 article, “Married Couples and the Challenge of Extended Tours, Financial Pressures, and Reentry into the Family After Military Service.” “It is a wonderful gift to the Church and to society. Like all precious gifts it must be cared for, supported, and sustained.”