Heavenly Light Press
Marriage On A Lampstand
Exploring a New Paradigm for Modern Christian Marriage
This book is written at a critical time in Catholic Marriage and Family Ministry with the unprecedented collaboration among the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers, the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators, the National Black Catholic Congress, the Black and Indian Mission Office, and Arusi Network. Though we are only at the ground floor of that collaboration, we are hopeful about its fruits.
We thank our many collaborators in ministry for their patience and encouragement. The writing of this book was delayed due to Andrew’s bout with Leukemia, which was diagnosed in August of 2015. Hospitalization, chemotherapy, and the effects of “chemo-brain” stalled our writing. Colleagues, clients, and friends encouraged us to get through the project of writing and getting this book to market.
Special appreciation and thanks go to our colleague and friend Kimberly Boyce Hagerty, who edited an early draft of the book.
Our parents, Andrew and Shirley Lyke and Perry and Zenobia Howard, through their lifelong marriages, created templates from which we were able to build a life with reasonable expectations for permanence. We stand on their shoulders.
We are grateful to the many God-couples who have touched our lives:
The couples of the I.M.A.G.E. of the Spirit, our first small faith community of marriage support we joined in 1978 after our first Marriage Encounter retreat. This was part of a network of small faith communities through Joliet Marriage Encounter. Our eight years with these couples transformed our marriage, brought us back to the Church and the Sacraments, and nurtured us in our earliest years of marriage. Noteworthy were the I.M.A.G.E. Workshops that trained the presenters of the monthly gatherings in the network. It was our basic training for facilitating small faith groups and foundational to our current work;
The couples who were part of the team that shaped PreCana for the Black Community in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1981. This was nationally the first diocesan Catholic marriage preparation program by and for Black Catholics;
The couples who were part of the Marriage Encounter monthly sharing group at St. Lawrence Church in Chicago. It was our first experience of marriage support among African Americans, and which gave us a profound appreciation of our Black culture and spirituality;
The couples of the Couple-To-Couple marriage support ministry at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Matteson, Illinois;
The couples of B.I.T.S. (Bonded In The Spirit), with whom we regularly meet for feasting, praying, learning, and journeying together in faith. This small faith community of couples include friends who were part of the PreCana for the Black Community team and have become integral to our married life.
Among the most prominent God-Couples are our friends Pedro and Elba de Jesus, who have been a force in our lives and have helped us hold it together through our 40+-year friendship; our daughter and son-in-law André and Andréa Senegal; and our son and daughter-in-law Martin and Megan Lyke, all who form with us a family formation in marriage and mutual support.
We thank the priests who have assisted us and given us pastoral guidance in our ministry work:
Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Chicago, who “volun-told” us to be a part of the PreCana for the Black Community team, and whose confidence in us was wind beneath our wings;
Father Thomas McQuaid, Father then later Bishop Wilton Gregory, Father Thomas Walsh, and Father John Harvey, who were chaplains for the PreCana for the Black Community program, and who encouraged us to spread our wings nationally;
Father, now Bishop Joseph Perry who served as the chaplain on the maiden voyage of the Arusi Retreat in Milwaukee in 1994, and who as a bishop championed our work locally in the Archdiocese of Chicago;
And with special love and appreciation to our uncle, mentor, confessor, and friend, the late Archbishop James Lyke, who made our marriage his special project through his love, encouragement, and good counsel. His fingerprints are in our work and in the writing of this book.
We thank the Family Ministries Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago for entrusting us with the important apostolate to marriage in the Black Community. Special appreciation and love go to Frank Hannigan, Director of Family Ministries, who hired Andrew to be the first Coordinator of Marriage Ministry for the Archdiocese. In that role, Andrew stretched his wings and grew as a servant leader. We thank the pastors in the Archdiocese of Chicago for entrusting to us the preparation and enrichment of their couples.
We thank the thousands of couples all around the United States we have served through the PreCana programs, Arusi Retreats, workshops, days of reflection, relationship coaching sessions, webinars, conference presentations, and leadership trainings. All are seekers of the Risen Christ, like us, who look for evidence of God in the love of marriage and family. It is our privilege to serve them, and we dedicate this book to them.
Finally, and most importantly, we give thanks and praise to God, who gave us the gift of life and invited us to share in the miracle of creation. We give glory and honor to God, whose Son gave us a template for being fully human in his life, death, and rising. The love we share is from God, whose Spirit has nudged us along paths we would not have traveled on our own. Through God’s accompaniment, arrangement, and direction, the symphony of our life is sweet, heavenly music. Thanks be to God!