Marriage and Family

The ‘Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life’ presented in Albania

Under-secretary Gambino at the National Family Pastoral Day in Lezhë
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On 20 April 2024 in Lezhë, Albania, the National Day of Family Pastoral Care was celebrated at the ‘Redemptoris Mater’ Seminary. Organised by the Episcopal Commission for Laity, Family and Life of the Bishops’ Conference of Albania, the event aimed to deepen knowledge of the document on ‘Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life’. The Dicastery’s Under-secretary, Prof. Gabriella Gambino, was invited to the event. In attendance were members of the Bishops’ Conference and, in particular, H. Exc. Gjergj Meta, the Bishop of Rrëshen; H. Exc. Ottavio Vitale, the delegate of the National Commission for Laity,  Family and Life; H. Exc. Angelo Massafra, the former Archbishop of Shkodër-Pult; and H. Exc. Luigi Bonazzi, the Apostolic Nuncio to Albania.

The meeting was also attended by over one hundred lay, consecrated and religious persons and priests who are involved in family pastoral work in Albania.

Albania: The challenge of reconciliation and spiritual conversion in families

The event opened with the portrayal of Albania as a country full of challenges that is currently reaping the sufferings caused by a long period of communist dictatorship which annihilated the family, every social bond, and the profoundly spiritual dimension of the Albanian people – a country being called to follow the path of forgiveness and reconciliation. Three married couples commenced the event by recounting their pastoral experience in various dioceses of Albania and reflecting on their involvement in some ecclesial movements including the Pope John XXIII Association, Equipes Notre-Dame, and Catholic Action. There was an atmosphere of great ecclesial communion between the pastors and these realities, eager to live the journey they began via synodal acts of fruitful listening and mutual help. The decision to present the document about the Pathways was a purposeful expression of the ecclesial will to initiate processes of conversion and formation through which Albanian families can revive the gifts that are received in marriage.

Helping married couples to grow together through a Christian lifestyle

The Under-secretary's speech, in particular, represented a moment of strong support and encouragement not only to the Albanian National Commission, but to all lay people and couples on the journey of pastoral and spiritual rebirth. The most striking aspect for a country in which marriage is still arranged by families, rather than being a choice made by a couple, was the proposal of a training path aimed at presenting marriage as an authentic vocation: a sacramental life to be lived by two, which requires accompaniment, not only before, but also after the celebration of the rite and throughout the first years of marriage.

Embarking on a continuous catechumenal journey of rediscovering the faith, starting from Baptism, is necessary to help spouses grow together in grace, gradually adopt a Christian lifestyle, and feel accompanied by the community in the most delicate phases of family life. Prompted by a few questions, the participants reflected on how to train children, young people and parents to learn to live the Christian faith in the family, to understand from an early age what marriage is, and to recognise the meaning and value of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Concrete and achievable objectives to give hope

In a land of mission like Albania, it is essential to identify fundamental aspects from which to begin – starting with the pastoral reality – in order to set concrete and achievable objectives that bring hope and confidence to those who faithfully and zealously work to make the Church grow, and make the lives of its faithful full. Prof. Gambino’s speech was followed by a long period of dialogue with the participants, which allowed all attendees to delve even deeper into some valuable aspects to be considered by the Commission and Dioceses when planning future initiatives.

The ‘Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life’ published in Albanian language

At the end onf the meeting, the book "Itinerare katekumenale për jetën martesore", Albanian version of the document, was presentented. It is available for download here.

26 April 2024