Marriage on Tap strengthens faith and marriage with a generous pour of community

North Texas Catholic
(Nov 7, 2019) Local

Teresa Williams laughs with her husband Michael Williams as they have personal time during a married couple activity at Marriage on Tap at Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville, Nov. 02, 2019. (NTC/Ben Torres)

COLLEYVILLE — A selection of wine and beers, a little food and music, and conversations with old and new friends entice dozens of couples to gather in the Upper Room of the Shepherd Center at Good Shepherd Parish on the first Saturday of each month.

Don’t be misled by the relaxed vibe and convivial atmosphere. Important Church teaching is about to begin.

Marriage on Tap began in 2018 at Good Shepherd in Colleyville to support married couples in their vocation by combining social time, solid teaching on theology or practical tools for marriage and family life, and a one-on-one breakout session between spouses. All of that in two hours on a Saturday night — with child care available to boot.

In November, speaker Amy Northrop concluded the Theology of the Body presentation that she began in October. Her talk gave an overview of St. John Paul II’s sacramental vision of marriage, the four essential elements that constitute marriage, and three ways that practicing the teachings of Theology of the Body can strengthen marriage.

Northrop, a teacher at a Christian school and developer of a discernment program for dating pairs, noted that she usually discusses Theology of the Body with engaged or newly married couples. The Nov. 2 Marriage on Tap was attended by couples that covered the spectrum from newlyweds to those whose silver anniversary had long past, but she said the topic was still relevant to all.

The speaker, who hails from Dallas, said, “Theology of the Body is something that John Paul II has given to the entire Church. It’s so rich that frequently the same message has a multi-faceted meaning to different age groups.”

Northrop, married 20 years with six children, advocates for strong marriages. She said, “I am so excited that this [Marriage on Tap] ministry exists. It speaks to a craving that married couples have — both for catechesis about what it means to be married and how to live their marriage vocation.

“We’re not meant to live our vocations in isolation. We are meant to live in community. I love to see the spirit of community here,” she observed.

Catholic educator Amy Northrop speaks during Marriage on Tap at Good Shepherd Parish in Colleyville, Nov. 02, 2019. (NTC/Ben Torres)

Good Shepherd parishioner Sonja Lange said one benefit of Marriage on Tap is “couples realize that they are not alone in the journey.” The mother of eight, who has helped plan the events since they began, said Marriage on Tap is designed to fill the gap between ministries that prepare couples for marriage and ministries that help marriages in crisis.

The topics discussed each month are based on suggestions by those who attend. Tammy Sandoval, the director of faith formation at Good Shepherd Parish, explained that the organizers like to “mix it up,” rotating theology and catechesis with practical applications for creating a marriage that thrives. Other topics covered this year have included forgiveness, prayer, and conflict resolution.

Sandoval said in current society, “Marriages are falling apart, and the world thinks that’s not important.” Marriage on Tap helps provide resources on “creating a holy marriage, an attractive marriage.”

She said that the Domestic Church, the family, is where we first learn about God, about love, and about holiness.

“The Domestic Church is a reflection of the Church universal,” Sandoval said, echoing St. John Paul II’s remarks on his 1986 visit to Australia: “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

It’s in the Domestic Church that husbands and wives grow in holiness, explained the faith formation director. “Marriage is the ongoing dying to self, every day. We need formation as a Domestic Church” to help spouses live according to God’s ideals for marriage and to create holy families, she said.

Sandoval added the evenings are also a “bridge builder” with couples from nearby parishes also attending.

The target audience is married couples, but attendee Charles Corgan was welcome, although he’s definitely single. The youngest attendee at seven weeks old, the baby enjoyed the presentation nestled in his mother’s arms. Then his father’s arms. And so on.

Getting out of the house with an infant is difficult, but his mother, Elizabeth Corgan, said the effort was well worth it. “It’s a great date night to have an adult conversation. It’s a few minutes to connect with each other and grow in our faith. We have really enjoyed all the ones we’ve been to.”

The evening ended with the couples holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes while a blessing of their lives together was read. Too intimate a moment for a room with 70 others? Not really, because you aren’t strangers when you have the same Father and are headed to the same destination.

Marriage on Tap, married couples, tools for marriage, marriage vocation, trending-english