Gift and Grit

2023 Marriage Conference featuring Dr. Andrew and Sarah Swafford

An Incredible Day of Faith, Wisdom, and Togetherness!

Wow! What a day we shared on November 4 at Saint André Bessette Catholic Secondary School in London, Ontario. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of this incredible event where we celebrated the joy, challenges, and beauty of marriage together.

The Swaffords Take the Stage!

A big shoutout to the dynamic duo, Dr. Andrew and Sarah Swafford. In their talk, “Gift and Grit,” they didn’t just speak; they took us on a heartfelt and humorous journey through family, faith, and the intricate dance of married life. We laughed, we resonated, and we left with a renewed sense of purpose in our own marriages.

Andrew and Sarah kicked things off by celebrating the joy of family gatherings. They peeled back the curtain, showing us the messiness behind the scenes and warning against the pitfalls of comparison. Through candid photos and personal stories, they walked us through transformative moments—college struggles, faith discoveries, and the beauty found in overcoming challenges.

Their practical journey through the complexities of married life felt like we were chatting with friends. Using the metaphor of two trees representing paths to death and life, they dove into virtues and vices, emphasizing the importance of self-mastery and the right ordering of pleasures. Humility emerged as a superpower, enabling love for God and neighbors.

We delved into various virtues—meekness, patience, and recognizing life as a gift meant for self-giving. Andrew and Sarah encouraged us to choose virtue consistently, likening it to honing a skill or mastering a craft. They tackled marriage dynamics, addressing negative interpretations, pursuit and withdrawal dynamics, and the art of distinguishing between issues and events in relationships.

The talk wrapped up with a powerful message on the willingness to fight for marriage and the transformative impact of self-sacrifice for the greater good. It was an inspiring journey filled with laughter, relatable anecdotes, and profound insights into the beauty and challenges of building a strong, lasting marriage.

Over 100 Couples Strong!

And can we take a moment to celebrate? 🎉 Over 100 incredible couples attended, making this day even more special! The energy and love shared in that room were simply heartwarming.

“Marriage on Mission” – A Journey Rooted in Faith and Friendship

In their second talk, “Marriage on Mission,” Andrew and Sarah Swafford continued to shine. They shared their deep admiration for Saint John Paul II and recounted a transformative experience in Florence, Italy, where they spent a semester with college students. Imagine exploring the beauty of faith and friendship in the heart of Italy!

They emphasized the importance of deep, meaningful friendships and introduced the Polish phrase “zone of freedom” or “milieu”—creating a space for authentic and profound connections where nothing is off the table. Another Polish phrase, “Time flies, eternity awaits,” highlighted the significance of virtuous friendships rooted in a shared pursuit of Jesus Christ.

The Swaffords stressed the impact of prayer, specifically mental or contemplative prayer, in gaining clarity, strength, and healing. Personal anecdotes, including struggles with family relationships and forgiveness, illustrated the transformative power of going deep with the Lord. The talk encouraged us to embrace a mission-driven life by fostering deep roots and addressing hidden wounds for true freedom and love.

Andrew and Sarah discussed the importance of cultivating deep, authentic friendships within the context of marriage. They emphasized the need for couples to have a safe space where they can share their highs and lows, vulnerabilities, and joys.

They even shared their own experience of initiating a monthly gathering with a group of couples, creating a space for genuine connection. They highlighted the transformative power of such friendships, providing support during challenging times and celebrating victories together.

The talk encouraged couples to prioritize vulnerability, availability, and accountability in their friendships, fostering an environment where they can truly share life with others.

Furthermore, Andrew and Sarah stressed the urgency of addressing issues within a marriage and not letting problems fester. They challenged the notion that problems will magically resolve themselves and encouraged couples to take the initiative in seeking support. The importance of authenticity in friendships was underscored, as sharing one’s struggles not only strengthens the bond with others but also serves as a source of healing.

The talk concluded with a practical exercise, urging couples to express one thing they feel and one thing they need from each other. It reinforced the idea that open communication is essential for building and maintaining strong marital relationships.

Special Thanks

The day began on a reverent note with a beautiful Mass celebrated by Fr. Steve Eckert at 9:30 AM. Fr. Steve, thank you for setting the tone for a day that celebrated the sacred commitment we make in marriage.

A heartfelt thank you to our sponsors—Catholic Date Night, Donahue Funeral Home, Caradoc Dentistry, and Harry Lamb. Your support made this event possible, and we appreciate your commitment to strengthening marriages within our community.

Looking Ahead

As we reflect on the “Gift and Grit: 2023 Marriage Conference,” we are filled with gratitude for the vibrant community that came together to celebrate the gift of marriage. The profound insights shared by Andrew and Sarah Swafford will undoubtedly continue to resonate in our hearts as we navigate the journey of married life.

Stay Connected

We invite you to stay connected with the Family Foundations Institute for updates on future events and initiatives. Your feedback is invaluable to us, and we encourage you to share your thoughts and suggestions by commenting on this post or reaching out through our social media channels.

Once again, thank you for being part of this enriching experience. We look forward to continuing this journey of faith, love, and growth together.

Cheers to each one of you, the heart of this extraordinary day!