Balanced Family Ministries Apostolate partners with diocese

Jenara Kocks Burgess

North Texas Catholic

July 11, 2012

Father Raymond McDonald, pastor of St. Peter Church in Lindsay kneels before the Blessed Sacrament during the Holy Hour for Marriage on Feb. 10 in honor of World Day of Marriage. Balanced Family Ministries sponsored the Holy Hour to celebrate the World Day of Marriage, designated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as the Sunday closest to St. Valentine’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Diane Schwind)

Father Raymond McDonald, pastor of St. Peter Church in Lindsay kneels before the Blessed Sacrament during the Holy Hour for Marriage on Feb. 10 in honor of World Day of Marriage. Balanced Family Ministries sponsored the Holy Hour to celebrate the World Day of Marriage, designated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as the Sunday closest to St. Valentine’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Diane Schwind)

After working in the Diocese of Fort Worth’s Office of Marriage and Family Life for two years, Diane Schwind and her husband Robert saw that people needed more information on what the Church teaches on marriage and family as well as more marriage enrichment and catechesis on the sacrament of marriage.

“The Church teaches there are two main purposes of marriage,” Robert Schwind said. “The first is to help each other get to heaven and then welcome whatever children God blesses you with and educate them in the faith to help them to get to heaven as well. I think if you can keep those things in the forefront, it really helps keep your priorities in line. Is this action, is this thought, helping my spouse get to heaven or is it hindering that journey?”

The Schwinds now lead an apostolate called Balanced Family Ministries to address these topics. Diane said the apostolate began with the blessing of Bishop Kevin Vann and now she and her husband contract with the diocese to teach the “Pre Cana” classes for engaged couples and “Today, Tomorrow, and Forever” classes for couples who need their marriages blessed in the Church. And they travel around the diocese and even occasionally to other states to pass along what the Church teaches to other couples and families.

“Our whole premise is helping families find balance in this crazy, crazy world and be able to have the peace and the joy that God wants for families,” said Diane, adding that there are five ministries within the apostolate: men’s, women’s, marriage, family, and youth ministry.

Robert said his and his wife’s inspiration for starting the apostolate comes from working through their own personal struggles.

He said that through their own challenging experiences, “we learned what the Church’s teaching was on marriage, and what the role of husband was supposed to be and what the role of wife was supposed to be. We kept asking each other, why didn’t someone tell us this before?” he said. “I think couples, for the most part, are getting their idea of what marriage is supposed to be from our culture, from our society. And unfortunately, in this day and age, that is a pretty twisted view of marriage.”

Diane said within their apostolate all their ministries fit together. According to a flow chart found on the apostolate’s website, www.balancedfamiliesministries.com, helping men understand their masculinity and their call as men, and helping women understand their femininity and their call as women complement each other in understanding what God’s plan for marriage is. From there, the marriage builds toward a God-centered family, and the family builds toward helping youth discern their vocation, whether it be priesthood, religious life, single life, or marriage.

“So then the cycle starts all over where we have healthy men and women going into marriage and having healthy families,” Diane said.

Diane said everything they teach is based on the Theology of the Body by Blessed Pope John Paul II, so they often put on strictly Theology of the Body retreats, conferences, and classes. She said she and her husband will travel to any parish in the Fort Worth Diocese or beyond those boundaries to speak on marriage, family, or Theology of the Body.

She added that Balanced Family Ministries has also conducted some retreats for middle school- and high school-age girls, and is planning mother/daughter and father/son retreats. In addition, they are currently writing a weekend retreat specifically for couples with a similar format to the ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology and Service) and Christ Redeems His Parish (CRHP) retreats, but with a focus on marriage called “Back to Eden.”

“We also help with RCIA classes when they get to the sacrament of marriage and sexual morality section. We come in as guest speakers and do those two classes,” she said.

Robert said one of the topics they often talk about during their various events and that they learned a lot about themselves as a couple is the Church’s teaching on contraception.

“I think most Catholics, if they have paid any attention to their faith at all, know that the Church teaches against contraception, but I think most couples don’t understand why. I don’t think they have any idea how damaging using contraception can be to their relationship.”

Robert said Theology of the Body plays a big role in what they learned and what they teach.

“It helped us understand why contraception was bad for us as individuals, why it is bad for our marriage, and why it is bad for society as a whole," he said.

Robert said another big thing that he has learned is what the role of husband is supposed to be.

“It’s much more than an income-earner and a bread-winner,” he said, recalling that he had a mentality that his job was only to support his family financially. Since then, Robert said, he’s learned that the husband’s role is to “first and foremost, die to self and to be a gift to his wife and his children as well.”

He said he also learned that the husband is called to be the spiritual leader.

“And I think a lot of guys have a hard time stepping up to that role — not because they don’t want to, but really, they don’t know they’re supposed to. And I think in a lot of families, the wife and mother realizes that’s a role that needs to be filled, and if the husband doesn’t step up to fill it, the wife, out of necessity will. But really as men, that’s our call. That was big for me,” he said.

Robert said he and his wife definitely share their personal struggles and mistakes and how it all affected their marriage, and how God is helping them overcome all that.

“It’s not always the popular message that we bring, but we really, really strive to teach this stuff out of love. We generally try to stress to the couples, ‘Hey, we’re not here to shake our fingers at anybody because we’ve made almost every mistake imaginable in the context of marriage, so we have no right to be shaking our fingers at anybody,’” he said.

They try to point out that what they are teaching is Church teaching, and it would be wrong to omit part of it or “sugar coat” part of it, said Robert.

Probably the most important thing they teach is what the purpose of marriage is, he said.

For more information about Balanced Family Ministries, visit their website at www.balancedfamiliesministries.com, or e-mail Diane and Robert at .

After working in the Diocese of Fort Worth’s Office of Marriage and Family Life for two years, Diane Schwind and her husband Robert saw that people needed more information on what the Church teaches on marriage and family as well as more marriage enrichment and catechesis on the sacrament of marriage.

Published (until 12/31/2020)
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