Alumna Mary-Rose Verret (’04) and her husband, Ryan, have launched a five-part marriage enrichment and renewal series for couples across the country titled “Be Light” through their Witness to Love marriage ministry. Seeking to strengthen the Domestic Church during this time of social isolation, the series features presentations from married couples, reflection questions, and recommended resources, all to help couples reconnect with each other and other Catholic couples across the country.

Verret and her husband have worked hard the past few years on Witness to Love, which helps pair engaged couples with married couples in their respective parish communities, providing them with models of sacramental marriage. This new “5-Night Date Night Series” is helping to continue that mission, giving couples opportunities for connection and renewal.

“There are studies coming out of China saying that the divorce rate jumped by 25% during the first month after the quarantine was lifted,” said Verret in an interview with the National Catholic Register. “We know that if couples were experiencing difficulties in their marriage that this quarantine…wasn’t helping the situation. Witness to Love, the origin of it was specifically to fight the isolation that couples experience, even before all of this. So we said, well, let’s see if we can get in a virtual date night series that will take place before the quarantine lifts, because once it lifts and everybody is kind of in a mad dash to get back to normal life, whatever that is, we just wanted to give people time to connect as a couple, to process, to understand the graces that might have been given during this time.”

The Verret’s are the hosts for the series, introducing the featured couple for each video and concluding each one with discussion questions as well. Over the course of the series, topics including belonging, expectations, the need for community, and more are discussed, as the Verret’s and featured couples invite viewers to dive deeper into catechesis, marriage formation, and evangelization.

While Witness to Love was originally designed for engaged couples, this new series is the first part of the next phase of Witness to Love, according to Verret. They are planning on launching new resources for married couples in the near future to help them grow in the sacrament of matrimony as well, building up communities of married couples across the country as a result.

Since its founding, Witness to Love has been adopted by over 500 parishes in four countries and has been successful in helping couples to have happy and holy marriages. In parishes that have adopted it so far, divorce rates have “decreased by double digits and participation in parish life by newlyweds has increased from 10 percent to as high as 70-90 percent,” states Witness to Love’s website.

According to Verret, her college experience within the Diocese of Arlington was integral to her starting this ministry. Having divorced parents, Verret knew that she wanted better for her own marriage and sought a community where she would find good examples of healthy marriages. The formation she received at Christendom and the example of faithful Catholic couples that she witnessed at the college and in other parishes throughout the diocese shaped her view of marriage and helped her to see the importance of being welcomed into a faith community — an integral aspect of the Witness to Love ministry.

“The importance of community that I learned in my classes and through the way people interacted with me enriched my college experience even more. When I found that many parishes were lacking in this same sense of community, I wanted to fix this,” says Verret.  “Couples, nowadays, are becoming increasingly less engaged in marriage preparation. I sought to change that — a new, risky undertaking that Christendom gave me the confidence to do.”

The ”Be Light” series still has two nights left. Register now at witnesstolove.org/belight.

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