Sanctifying Families Conference honored Married Couples - Exemplifying Sts. Zélie and Louis Martin

An event celebrating marriage, families, and the canonization of Blessed Louis & Zélie Martin was held in Gloucester on Oct. 16,  with speakers Rita & Gerard McCarthy; Cheryl Thompson, Darwent family and McPike family. On Oct. 17, Mass celebrated by Bishop Christian Riesbeck. Cheryl Thompson one of the organizers, described the Martins, the parents of St. Thérese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” in her talk. The Martins are the first married couple canonized together. Perhaps as a witness to the religious life of the children of the Martins; the Order of the Queenship of Mary helped prepare and serve the meals for this large crowd. (LINK
Thompson,  explained that Louis and Zélie Martin both worked and  raised their family. Louis was a watchmaker and Zélie was a maker of lace. The family lost of four children, three in infancy, one daughter at age five. Zélie herself died at 45 years of age from breast cancer. Louis became a single father of 5 daughters. All of them subsequently entered the religious life.
Thompson outlined how Louis and Zelie both worked in addition to raising their family, he as a watchmaker and she as a producer of fine lace. They also experienced much suffering, especially through the loss of four children, three in infancy, one daughter at age 5. Zelie died of breast cancer at the young age of 45, leaving Louis alone to raise their remaining five daughters, all of whom entered cloistered life, a huge sacrifice for their father.

A couple named, David and Theresa McPike, talked of their struggles in marriage especially at the death of their eldest daughter Naomi Therese at the age of five. They explained the "flowers from the Martin Family.” The McPike's have been married for 10 years, and are the parents of five. Shortly before Naomi's death, Thompson gave the McPike's the book "A Call to a Deeper Love". This was about the Martin family and described they experiences of losing four of their children yet still trusting in God. The McPike's learned to leave everything  “to God’s holy will.”

The keynote speakers Rita and Gerard McCarthy, are the founders of the St. John’s, Newfoundland based "Marriages for Mary" apostolate. They spoke on God’s divine plan for marriage and on the mission to love.
Rita and Gerard explained that love is not just a feeling. Love has to be unconditional, merciful and sacrificial. Key factors in family life are Forgiveness and Mercy according to the example of Jesus.
Rita spoke about “Letting go of our own agendas to love sacrificially..." which can be difficult at times. They spoke of trying times during their marriage of infidelity and the strength from God to stay together.

Cheryl and David Darwent of the Nazareth Family Apostolate also spoke of their retreats during the summer over the past 15 years which helped their 35-year marriage.

David explained that he had been sexually abused by an older brother, who is now dead, from infancy until he was 10. 

The retreats provide a place where God can heal marriage and family life and give the support of other families. LINK
Fr. Tim Devine, a Blind Catholic Priest of the Companions of the Cross, also gave testimony. He explained that when his father left his mother 
she was left alone and he did not know whether to enter seminary. Fr. Devine explained that his family helped him decide to 
leave home despite everything and study for the priesthood. This was a great sacrifice; his mother was devastated at the departure of 
his father but would place her wedding ring in front of the tabernacle. The strong faith in God of this family not only saw 
Fr. Devine ordained but also converted his father and brought him back home and to the Catholic faith.
All together these families provided a great witness to the ability to strive for holiness even in today's society.