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Building Christ-centered marriage and family life in Singapore

The Couple Empowerment Program has reached out to hundreds of young Catholics in 22 parishes in the city-state

UCA News reporter, Singapore

UCA News reporter, Singapore

Published: May 06, 2021 03:58 AM GMT

Updated: May 06, 2021 04:26 AM GMT

Building Christ-centered marriage and family life in Singapore

Marie and Jonathan Thio with their children at their home in Singapore. The couple are part of the Couple Empowerment Program. (Photo: Facebook page of Marie Thio)

Marie Thio, a 33-year-old devout Catholic in Singapore, has a busy time in the various roles she plays in her family and workplace.

Marie is a banker by day and a full-time wife and mother of three children in the evening. She also regularly keeps in touch with her mother, siblings and friends. Her busy life often poses challenges, leaving her exhausted.

Some days I feel I’m running on a 36-hour day — the tasks, wants and needs of my family seem endless. At times, it gets both challenging and exhausting,” Marie wrote in a post on Catholic News on May 4.

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In her challenging life, Marie is greatly supported by her husband Jonathan, whom she married in 2015. Their three children are aged nine months, three and five.

At times of difficulties, the couple turn to God to seek lots of reassurance and patience when it seems they are losing their desire to keep going.

Marie keeps in mind lessons from The Five Love Languages, a book by Gary Chapman about the “emotional love tank” that is found in each child.

I realized and accepted that there are things not within my control, beckoning me to let go and to trust more in God and his plans for us

The family had troubling days last year due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Marie had a salary cut, their domestic helper was stuck in Indonesia due to travel restrictions and she herself was heavily pregnant with her third child.

“I realized and accepted that there are things not within my control, beckoning me to let go and to trust more in God and his plans for us,” Marie said.

She is also grateful to her husband, who supports her all the way.

“I am nonetheless thankful to have my husband supporting me in this great partnership. When I come home to my husband and hear the sound of my children’s laughter, it’s all worth it. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for my countless blessings,” she said.

Marie’s positive attitude to life's challenges is not only because she is a great person but also thanks to the couple’s years of association with the Couple Empowerment Program (CEP), an affiliate of the Catholic Family Life Ministry of Singapore Archdiocese.

Launched in 2003, the CEP has been credited for a campaign to build Christ-centered families in Singapore.

“The CEP seeks to establish a post-marriage catechesis for young married couples on the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage and family, developing life skills and effective parenting and faith formation. These are conducted and directed at parish communities to establish a parish formation and supportive infrastructure for all couples serious about enhancing marriage and family life,” the program's website states.

“In the CEP, we dream of a world where married couples live a heroic love with Christ as their standard and raise their children to become fine men and women. A world where husbands love and protect their wives and wives who through their sacrificial love are their husbands’ helpmate.” 

The CEP deals with common marital issues that plague modern-day marriages

Over the years, the CEP has reached out to hundreds of young Catholic couples in 22 parishes in Singapore and formed 24 CEP community circles that allow couples and their families to maintain close ties with each other.

Couples are encouraged to join the community and to register for the CEP course that includes nine sessions of psychological tasks dealing with challenges facing marriages today.

The CEP deals with common marital issues that plague modern-day marriages and incorporates life skills designed by marriage sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists.

The sessions are The Good Marriage, Marriages Are Made In Heaven But Lived on Earth, Building Intimacy, In-laws Or Out-laws, Communication and Intimacy, Sex in His City, Martial Spirituality, and Giving Life.

Catholic couples who join the CEP community and attend sessions highly appreciate the initiatives.

“After marriage, we became increasingly preoccupied with practical issues, and the CEP provided a timely intervention where we could reconnect as a couple. We learned useful tools to communicate through challenging issues as a team and gained insights into how to weave spiritually into our family life,” said Ching and Frodine Hao in their testimony.

“We now continuously put God at the center of our relationship and our interactions with our children, and we apply the concept of bending and bowing to each other in order to better run this marathon together.” 

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