Catholic Date Night celebrates marriage

More than eight Parishes were represented at a “Catholic Date Night,” an evening of faith and fellowship held at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on Oct. 4, 2023.

Special guests Ryan and Mary Rose Verret, creators of the Witness to Love marriage movement, were present and they spoke on the importance of keeping Christ at the center of marriage.

It was a joyful celebration as everyone came together.  A big focus of the evening was on the importance of couples surrounding themselves with other like-minded couples striving to live out God’s call to marriage.

“What added to the richness of the event was there was a couple married 51 years and there were three engaged couples just starting out.  And everything in between.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the journey you can never hear enough that marriage is a holy vocation,” Mary Rose Verret reflected.

The event was presented by the Diocese of Venice Office of Marriage and Family, with Family Life Coordinator Carrie Harkey saying it was “beautiful to see couples from across the Diocese in various stages of marriage spend time together in support. It’s a sign of hope and encouragement for older couples to see the engaged couples and the engaged couples to see the older couples and what they’ve been through and the witness they have to share.”

Harkey explained that the “Catholic Date Night” was a onetime thing designed to model the approach in the hopes that Parishes will consider organizing and offering ongoing marriage enrichment opportunities for spouses on a more regular basis.

“It’s so important that couples have a community of support to boldly live out God’s plan for marriage as the institution of marriage is often under attack in society,” Harkey said.

Couples received a copy of the Verrets’ new book “The Road to Family Missionary Discipleship- Forming Marriages and Families to Share the Joy of the Gospel.” This resource is designed to facilitate small groups of couples gathering together in homes for intentional discussions and fellowship.  It’s a practical guide to form holy marriages and accompany families in their mission to witness and testify to Jesus Christ’s saving love to the world.

The successful “Catholic Date Night” is not the only thing the Marriage and Family Office is doing to help couples.

The office is partnering with the St. John Paul II Foundation to present the upcoming “Together in Holiness” conference for couples. The conference is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. This year’s conference theme is “Family, the Church in Your Home” and will feature national speakers Haley Stewart and Greg Schutte, as well as local speakers Michael and Nancy Dauphinais. Cost is $64 per couple or $40 per individual. On-site childcare will be available for $5 per child. Full and partial scholarship opportunities are available. It is not too late to register at

In addition, many Parishes are in the process of forming Together in Holiness monthly small groups.

For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or