Unsplash photo/Gift Habeshaw
Unsplash photo/Gift Habeshaw
" This retreat is a unique opportunity, since it reaches young adults long before they enter into marriage ... " Cristina D'Averso-Collins Catholic campus minister, Monmouth University
The Catholic Campus Ministry of Monmouth University, West Long Branch, is sponsoring a young adult retreat geared toward those considering marriage in the Catholic Church.

Themed "Before I Do: Learn how to prepare now for lasting joy in Catholic Marriage,” the retreat will be held April 10 from 2 to 7:30 p.m. in St. Anselm Church, 1028 Wayside Rd., Tinton Falls. It is open to all college students and young adults in their 20s up to early 30s.

Cristina D’Averso-Collins, Catholic campus minister for Monmouth University, created the retreat in response to the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life’s 2015 “Plan for Strengthening Marriage.” One of the plan’s objectives for strengthening marriage focuses specifically on college students:

“To integrate teaching and witness on the vocation of marriage within all informational settings … design and pilot a marriage readiness program for use in college campus ministry.”

“This retreat is a unique opportunity, since it reaches young adults long before they enter into marriage,” D’Averso-Collins explained. “As is often recognized in marriage ministry, many couples come to the Church seeking marriage with little knowledge of what our faith teaches us about marriage, amd with deeply-ingrained relational patterns. While adequate marriage preparation at that time remains crucial, it is equally as vital to reach young adults before engagement and, sometimes, before they even engage in a serious dating relationship.”

Presenters will include D’Averso-Collins, and her husband Brian Collins, both of whom have master’s degrees in theology; Jennifer Maher, trained therapist; and Dr. John Van Epp, co-founder of “My Love Thinks” and author of “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk.” Dr. Van Epp will join the retreat virtually from California; more about his work can be found at https://www.mylovethinks.com/.

The retreat, she noted, will offer theological as well as practical insights to influence discernment and dating patterns in order to equip young adults with the skills needed for lasting happiness in Catholic marriage.  

“I hope that participants feel empowered to deepen their relationship with Christ through the Church's beautiful teachings on marriage and family and also equipped to make relationship decisions accordingly,” D’Averson-Collins stressed. “I truly believe that our young people deserve to know and experience the truth of God's plan for love and sexuality.”

Cost is $25 per person and includes refreshments and dinner. Participants can register at monmouthcatholic.org.