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St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin Recognition Retreat Report

23 July 2016

In the Year of Mercy


Enjoyable…Enlightening…Inspiring…Uplifting…Wonderful…Enriching…very good for married couples and families…that is to describe in one word the summation of the St Louis and St. Zelie Martin Recognition Retreat held last July 23, in the year of mercy, 2016 at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, in Portland Oregon.


Deacon An Vu, Founder of the Family of St Therese of Child Jesus and Teresa Charities, was inspired by the life of the Martins and has been a passionate advocate of Saint Therese, “the little flower” since he started the Teresa Family in 2005.  This unquenchable thirst to reach out to the community, the Church and the world was intensified with the idea of recognizing the holy virtues and noble efforts of St. Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of Saint Therese, after their canonization last October 2015. He already made a breakthrough in his homeland in Vietnam as they have had couples nominated in different regions of the country. Next stop is in Portland.


This being the first time that a holy couple was cited as saints, the Teresa Family undertook this daring endeavor to nominate couples chosen to live a holy life committed to love as modeled by the newly canonized Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of Saint Therese of Child Jesus. The purpose of this recognition is to honor these couples for allowing their light to shine brightly. It is there time to be fed spiritually, to refuel their lamps, and nourish their souls, allowing them to return to their parishes with a renewed sense of vitality and joy.


We hearken to the bible quote of Matthew 5-14,15 and 16  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”


The Teresa Family Portland USA group set things to motion, having regular meetings, brainstorming sessions, updating the website ( among others. They then had the courage to write the invitation and recommendation letter to couples to lift them up to inspire others and lead other families to fulfill their primary vocation of growing in personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This effort hopes to strengthen their parish and re-energize and deepen their commitment to Christ and his mission of Evangelization.


The date of spiritual retreat was held at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Portland Oregon on July 23, 2016. 


The event was attended by the following couples, to wit:


Mr. and Mrs. Walter and Mary Bartel

Mr. and Mrs. William and Victoria Casper

Mr. and Mrs. Leo and Bonnie Custer

Mr. and Mrs. Rudy and Luisa del Rosario

Mr. and Mrs. Clint and Gerry Dodge

Mr. and Mrs. Melba and Ely Ganaban

Deacon Jose and Maria Gonzales

Mr. and Mrs. Ed and Mary Kraus

Mr. and Mrs. Nick and Raquel Naval

Mr. and Mrs. Johan and Ingrid Rhemrev

Mr. and Mrs. Chuck and Jackie Sweet


The occasion was graced by the honorable Deacon Harold Burke Sivers, Deacon An Vu, Deacon Jim, Deacon Jose Gonzales, and the members of Teresa Family, Laura Patton, Nikki Allen, Rhona Marker, Melba and Ely Ganaban, Luisa Del Rosario, Anita Terrobias, and Ysabel Schuld.


After the registration at 8:30 am, a light breakfast of coffee, juice, pastries, and fruits were served. Ely, Leo and Johan played music and led the congregation with songs of praise and worship to inspire the nominees with songs like “Adoremus Te Domine”; “Lord Jesus, We enthrone you”; “We are not alone anymore”; ”O Word of God “ and “Stay Here”.

Laura Patton led the opening prayer of the poor beggar to Jesus. She mentioned that Saint Louis and Zelie, the beloved parents of St. Terese, were the people who showed Therese the “little way of kindness and compassion to others” is to be emulated.  She asks that these little acts of kindness goes unnoticed yet despite this, the couples humility and virtuousness shine through. She notes this retreat recognizes all of the couples who are all “givers” to become “receivers” today. 


We are gathered to welcome Deacon Harold Burke Sivers, a dynamic and engaging Catholic author and public speaker, who shared his wisdom in strengthening their faith as we all go along to listen, to seek God by meditating on his word, singing, hearing Mass and relaxing in this spirit-filled retreat. It is a time to socialize, to re-charge as we all dig deeper into building a stronger foundation of marriage and family life in this world.


Deacon Harold Burke Sivers differentiated that marriage is not a contract. On the contrary, it is a covenant. He models it in his life.

Deacon Harold Preaching

After Deacon Harold's preaching, Deacon An announced the lunch and mass to follow officiated by Fr. Thomas Ayepa, Chaplain at Providence hospital.


Ysabel reminded all to fill out evaluation form that will immensely help gauge in improving the retreat next year and succeeding years to come.


The Mass was highlighted by Deacon An handing out the recognition certificates after the homily to the couples present. Fr. Thomas’s homily was a reflection on the parable of weeds and wheat, Matthew 13:24-30. He mentioned weeds symbolize bitterness, anger and disappointments versus love, patience and understanding.  He was received warmly. The first reading was done by Rosalina Marker as she extolled the virtues of love as explained in the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 13:14.


 At the end of the event Deacon An Vu expressed the appreciation to all who contributed to the success of the retreat. He invites all the recognized couples to collaborate in organizing the next activities of Recognition Catholic Families Mission..


The evaluation of the retreat shows that the nominees were enlightened and inspired to further their good deeds and strengthen their faith in God and family. They also encouraged younger couples to be nominated and so that the next generation is given an opportunity to lead while they strive to have a closer relationship with God for themselves, their families, and their friends.  Others encouraged a family camp and also allowing children to have a program of their own while parents are in the retreat. The improvement portion is on inviting more nominees to walk in the path of God and in Saint Louis and Saint Zelie’s example. Teresa Family is moving forward and will have another preparation for couples on October 8, 2016 to enable the other nominees to attend.


The certificate was awarded to the nominated couples after the homily. The movement is just the beginning of Teresa Family’s plan to make this an annual activity in honor of Saint Louis and Zelie Martin.