By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - The Family Life Office of the Diocese of Lincoln (FLO) is introducing a new monthly program for married couples. The first “Date Night” will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20 at the Haymarket Old Chicago in Lincoln. (Editorial note: the time was originally published incorrectly as 7 p.m., the correct time is 6 p.m.)
“This is a new initiative to encourage couples to spend time together, because so many of our families and couples get bogged down with responsibilities toward kids and work and so on,” said Father Sean Kilcawley, director of the Office of Family Life and Evangelization.
The concept is simple. Married couples of any age are invited to enjoy free appetizers and a cash bar while Father Kilcawley gives a short reflection on marriage, then finish their date on the town or even back home.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been successfully running a similar program for some time. Father Kilcawley spoke to their family life director about it when two diocesan employees asked him if the same idea could be launched here: Nick Jorgenson, Office for Evangelization coordinator, and Michele Chambers, FertilityCare Center coordinator.
“I feel it’s important to offer couples a regular ‘reason’ to go out together – just to talk and reconnect without children,” Chambers said.
As Father Kilcawley put it, “Parents have to be rooted in Christ in order for their marriage to be strong enough to support each other as mothers and fathers.”
He explained that in the proper order, we receive love from God, which fuels our love for our spouses, and that in turn overflows into love for our children.
“Sometimes that order gets flipped upside down when couples have children,” Father Kilcawley noted. “When we become parents, we go into this mode of sacrificing for our children and always putting our children first. We forget that we have to be fed in order to feed them.”
Having ‘been there’ with her own husband, Chambers can relate.
“Many young couples choose not to go out because they could use that money for something more important, or they feel that making time to be a couple is somehow selfish. However, there is nothing more important than their marriage and relationship,” she stressed. “Kids need to see their parents are still in love.”
While the diocesan-led “Date Nights” are currently limited to the Lincoln area for practical reasons, Father Kilcawley said he hopes parishes across the diocese will set up date nights on their own or for deaneries. He’d also like to see teens provide free babysitting for couples who are strapped for cash.
“We are trying to keep the costs down by springing for the snacks,” Chambers said. “We want to make it accessible to all couples without them feeling guilty about a night away.”
All married couples are encouraged to attend the Lincoln Date Night or to spearhead the program in their own area. It doesn’t take much planning, and Father Kilcawley is happy to advise anybody who is interested.
“I remember being a young stay-at-home mother, and being so excited about a night out with my husband, because they were few and far between,” Chambers said. “But those nights together helped us both remember why we were together in the first place. I hope many couples feel that their relationship is worthy of a few hours out!”