ASIA/BANGLADESH – “Marriage encounter”: Christian spouses rediscover the richness of the Sacrament

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Dhaka – Married life is a life of patience, forgiveness and listening. It is a life of mutual enrichment, thanks to the presence and strength that Jesus Christ gives. It is a long journey together, enlightened and supported by the grace of God. This is what many Christian married couples in Bangladesh have matured thanks to the presence and apostolic action of “Worldwide Marriage Encounter”, an international movement present in 100 countries, which operates in the country since 1995. Liton Gomes, a 55-year-old Catholic businessman who lives in Dhaka tells Fides: “I had a problem of understanding with my wife for nine years after marriage. Thanks to Sister Pauline Nadeau we participated in the seminars of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. They helped me to understand my wife better, to overcome traps and obstacles in our interpersonal relationship, and now we live a happy married life”.
Agnes Gomes, a housewife from Gazipur, shares her story with Fides: “My husband had violent and imposing attitudes towards me. A nun suggested that we participate in the Weekend organized by Worldwide Marriage Encounter. We found each other again. As unhappy spouses we found a path of serenity, listening and joy”. Agnes Gomes and Liton Gomes thank the Canadian missionary of the Holy Cross Sr. Pauline Nadeau, who died of cancer in Montreal, Canada on August 30, at the age of 92.
The nun, who arrived in East Pakistan in 1955, carried out mission work in the country for 54 years. She discovered the problems of Catholic couples and sought a way to help them by starting the Worldwide Marriage Encounter experience in Bangladesh.
Mgr. Gervas Rozario, Bishop of Rajshahi and Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh , tells Fides: “Sister Nadeau started a direct counseling activity for Catholic couples in the Family Pastoral Center. She promoted and organized the Marriage Encounter movement in this country as well, inviting couples from the Philippines and India”. Bishop Gervas worked with Sr. Nadeau in the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement and learned how important it was for her to be at the service of couples: “She cared for couples in need and intended to help them have a happy married life. She will be remembered for many days”. Sr. Nadeau created a Marriage Encounter team in Bangladesh, bringing this apostolate throughout the country: “Hundreds of couples have benefited from it”, notes the Bishop. In addition to married couples, clergy and religious who attend Marriage Encounter seminars also learn to better manage interpersonal relationships in their religious and community life.
Since 1979, Sr. Pauline Nadeau was involved in the Church’s family pastoral care and became a point of reference. In 1991 she played a key role in organizing the first National Family Seminar in Dhaka which attracted 150 Catholic couples from all over the country. After years of consultations and pastoral work, Worldwide Marriage Encounter Bangladesh officially began in 1995 by selecting a couple and a priest as the first team to promote training and experience seminars for spouses.