Bride-And-Groom-2bThe first-ever Marriage conference sponsored by the Diocese of Phoenix will take place Sept. 28 at Xavier College Preparatory.

Organizers of “Marriage is Beautiful: Rediscover the Gift,” are hoping hundreds of couples will attend the event they hope becomes an annual gathering.

Mike Phelan, director of the Marriage and Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Phoenix, said the conference has two goals.

“One goal is the celebration of this beautiful thing called marriage,” Phelan said. “The other is to remind couples of their mission in Christian marriage and that is, like any Christian reality, we are supposed to live and preach the Gospel.”

Just by living marriage well, Phelan said, a couple does that.

“A married couple reflects Jesus’ relationship with His Church which is faithful and fruitful,” Phelan said. “They also in their family reflect the Trinity, which is why the family is so important.”

Becky and Steve Greene, who have been involved with marriage prep in the diocese for years, are the masters of ceremony for the conference, which reaches out to both married and engaged couples at a time when the state of marriage is in crisis.

“There is a disconnect occurring in what our understanding of marriage, what’s its intent is, and that it’s meant to be beautiful and joy-filled,” Becky said. “A lot of people, unfortunately, will go their entire whole married lives and never actually experience that.”

Becky said the conference will “celebrate the sacrament of matrimony, demonstrating what it is and what it is intended to be.”

The day begins with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted at St. Francis Xavier, followed by breakfast. Presentations by Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield regarding the teaching of Blessed John Paul II on marriage and Dr. Helen Alvaré, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law, round out the morning.

Greg and Julie Alexander will give the keynote address of the afternoon. Founders of “Alexander House,” the couple created the Marriage Disciples program to bring hope and healing to couples who are struggling.

“We want to give couples a great day together to celebrate the beauty of marriage and remind themselves of the wonderful mission they are called to,” Phelan said. Couples celebrating 25h, 40th, 50th or beyond anniversaries in 2013 will be honored at the conference.

“We want couples to be re-inspired and reinvigorated and go out into the world and be a witness to the truth,” Becky said.

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Marriage is Beautiful

When: Sept. 28

Where: Xavier College Preparatory, 4710 N. Fifth St..

Doors open at 7:15 a.m., Mass at 8 a.m.

Info: (602) 354-2132