As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live. Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. The future starts today, not tomorrow.

St. John Paul II

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the St. John Paul II Foundation, in collaboration with the St. Philip Institute and the Diocese of Tyler, hosted Together in Holiness, a conference where spouses can discover God’s plan for their marriage and family. This was the second time the St. John Paul II Foundation has hosted this conference in the Diocese of Tyler.

The mission of the St. John Paul II foundation is to proclaim the good news about life and family through education and formation. Based out of Houston, TX, the St. John Paul II Foundation accomplishes their mission through three initiatives: Together in Holiness, which serves married couples; Converging Roads, which serves medical professionals by provided formation in medical ethics; and Shepherds’ Heart, which supports members of the clergy who seek to build a culture of life in their communities.   

The conference was held at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Longview, TX. Just under 100 people were in attendance, traveling to Longview from across the diocese. Couples also traveled from Houston, Dallas and Shreveport to participate in the conference. 

A couple taking time to talk through discussion questions together.

Those in attendance heard inspiring presentations from Sister Josephine Garrett, CSFN, a sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth; Dr. Joshua Bitting, Program Director of the St. John Paul II Foundation; and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, a Catholic author and speaker.

Here’s what some of the Together in Holiness participants said about the presentations:

“We thoroughly enjoyed the whole Together in Holiness conference experience! My husband and I have been married for 22 years and Deacon Harold knocked it out of the park!!!! It was a wake up call for us for sure!!!” 

“Loved Sister Josephine’s enthusiasm and her words truly touched my heart.”

Sister Josephine Garrett, CSFN

In addition to formational presentations from the dynamic speakers, couples were also able to spend time praying together in Eucharistic Adoration, receive the sacrament of confession, and participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass. During the Mass, Bishop Joseph Strickland gave those who attended the conference a special blessing for their marriages. 

Couples praying during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

When asked if they learned something that will help strengthen their marriages, one woman said, “I will definitely try to start praying together with [my husband] and the family.” Another participant said they want to start doing more together, “especially praying together and scheduling confession monthly.”

You can learn more about the St. John Paul II Foundation at www.forlifeandfamily.org. To learn more about marriage enrichment programs in the Diocese of Tyler visit the Department of Family Life page on the St. Philip Institute website.

View more pictures from the Together in Holiness Conference here.

By Elizabeth Slaten

Elizabeth currently serves as the Managing Editor for the Catholic East Texas in the Diocese of Tyler. A native East Texan, Elizabeth is a cradle Catholic with a passion for Evangelization and Catechesis. She has a Master’s degree in Theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO. In her free time, Elizabeth can be found studying Church History, hiking or perfecting her skills at brewing the perfect cup of coffee.