Couples events in Wichita Falls tap into thirst for faith, community
WICHITA FALLS — Catholic spouses from Wichita Falls and surrounding towns now have another way to learn about their Catholic faith while building community through a recently launched Marriage on Tap program in the area.
During their third event on March 22 at the Half Pint Taproom & Restoration Hall in Wichita Falls, Father Khoi Tran, pastor of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Burkburnett, Christ the King Parish in Iowa Park, and St. Paul Parish in Electra, taught couples how God demonstrates His love for His people through the holy days of the Easter Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil — and how spouses can imitate that love in their marriages.
“Intimacy begins with your ability to communicate and communicate well. I know this is corny, but intimacy means IN-TO-ME-YOU-SEE,” Fr. Tran said. “So, intimacy begins with you and I opening our hearts up to God. This leads us to the wonderful example of God’s love for us through the Triduum.”
Kitty Eisenbeil, a member of Our Lady of the Skies Parish at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, said Marriage on Tap is more than just a once-a-month date night.
“I want couples to meet each other, exchange phone numbers, and start living their faith together outside of Mass on Sundays,” Eisenbeil said. “The whole point is to bring Christ to the world in your daily lives through the vocation of marriage. Have dinners together. Meet up for Adoration. Even have people see you praying over your meals together at a restaurant. Become comfortable letting your marriage be a witness to Christ.”
Eisenbeil said she first thought about starting the group in September 2017 when she heard about a friend’s success with a similar group in Chicago. A few months later when she heard a priest speak about how spouses tend to isolate themselves with their families in their homes, she felt called to put the idea into action, even though she was parenting her four children solo while her husband was deployed to South Korea. Members of Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls helped Eisenbeil with planning and publicity.
“Honestly, when we started, I thought, ‘If 30 people show up, that would be amazing!’ Imagine my surprise when over 250 people were RSVPing to our first event! What I thought would be a small gathering for discussion turned into a huge community, hungry to encounter other people in the married vocation,” Eisenbeil said.
Two hundred attended the second event on March 1 with guest speakers Jessica and Brent Murphy on spousal prayer, and more than 100 attended the third event on March 22.
Fr. Tran talked about how the Triduum starts with the most beautiful and romantic words of Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, and every Mass, which are spoken by Jesus, “This is my body. This is my blood. Given up for you.” Fr. Tran said those words are the expression of God’s love for His people.
“So that every time we hear that beginning with the Last Supper, we also say, ‘My God, as I have received your body, your blood, help me to also give my body and my blood to my wife, to my husband, to my children,” he said.
He said marriages fail when spouses stop giving everything to each other.
Because love is putting words into action, God shows His people how to live out that love during the second Holy Day of the Triduum, Good Friday.
“It’s Jesus opening His arms between heaven and earth and dying for us. When was the last time you and I chose to die for one another?” Fr. Tran asked.
Then Easter, the third Holy Day, demonstrates Jesus’ faithfulness to His promise that He would triumph over death.
“Easter is also a sign of our own transformation. I need to change myself each and every day so that I love my wife. So that I love my husband. I cherish this spousal love not as it was before but also as it is today,” Fr. Tran said.
Fr. Tran, as well as the guest speakers at the last two Marriage on Tap events, spoke to a group diverse in their number of years in the marriage journey. Couples married more than 50 years to couples going through Pre-Cana classes and everyone in between attended each event.
Ron and Ann Pohlod, who have six children and have been married almost 30 years, attended with their daughter Ronna Pohlod and future son-in-law Justin Castro on March 22. Both Ann and Ronna said they have enjoyed attending Marriage on Tap.
“[We] have rekindled some old friendships! It has strengthened our bond as friends while sharing our Catholic beliefs,” Ann Pohlod said. “It has helped my daughter [Ronna] and soon to be son-in-law [Castro] with their preparation for marriage.”
Ronna loves that Marriage on Tap helps couples strengthen their faith together.
“We also love that it’s something we can do with my parents,” she said. “We look up to their marriage in many, many ways and I think that it’s important to have someone like them to lead us in this next step of our lives.”
Laura and Jesse Gutierrez, who have two children, have been married 12 years, and served as the host couple also said they love the event and how it opens communication among Catholic couples.
“There’s definitely a hunger in our community for MoT. We have enjoyed attending, and we have used what we learn to help strengthen our marriage,” she said.
The next Marriage on Tap will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Half Pint Taproom & Restoration Hall, 817 Ohio Ave. in Wichita Falls.
Rebecca Frech, a devoted wife, mother of nine, homeschooler, CrossFit coach, and avid writer from Dallas, will discuss the importance of relationships, fighting loneliness, and how to make connections with other couples in her talk entitled “You Need a Tribe.” Tickets are $5 a couple and can be purchased at the Sacred Heart Parish Office, 1504 Tenth Street, Wichita Falls, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call the office at 940-723-5288.