By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Married couples in the Holy Family Institute focused on their roles as disciples, evangelizers and promoters of vocations at its Triduum Retreat March 22-24 at the St. Francis Chapel of Ollie Steele Manor Nursing Home.  

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Father Matthew Roehrig SSP, pastor of St. Paul Monastery in Canfield, Ohio, and Director of Holy Family Institute, blesses St. Mary’s Book Store during the HFI Triduum retreat. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator  


Father Matthew Roehrig SSP, pastor of St. Paul Monastery in Canfield, Ohio, and Director of HFI, led the retreat, “Come to Me/Secret of Success.”  

HFI is a Vatican-approved organization for people who feel called to consecrated married life, according to Boyd and Barbara Helm, a leading couple in HFI in Baton Rouge.  

Following a formation process, couples make perpetual vows of conjugal chastity, in which the spouses seal their sacramental promise of fidelity to each other and to God so that their consecration reinforces their existing and primary vocation as husbands and wives.  

They furthermore make a vow of poverty (detaching from material possessions) to keep in perspective the various resources needed to adequately fulfill their vocation as parents. 

Members also make a vow of obedience to put God first in their lives, especially when it comes to daily and difficult decisions in their lives.  

HFI is part of the worldwide Pauline Family, which includes the Society of St. Paul, for priests and brothers, and the Daughters of St. Paul, for nuns.  

The Pauline family is dedicated to supporting family life and spreading the Gospel, especially through mass media, according to the Helms.  

All that the members of HFI members do should “radiate” the love of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, said the Helms.

That love should also extend to the broken families, emphasized Boyd.  

During his talks Father Roehrig urged the couples to talk about their vocations from the heart in the midst of a fallen world.

He noted that Jesus signed a promissory note that “all these things will be given to you” for those who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  

“We are to live that pact,” said Father Roehrig, who emphasized that God works by covenant rather than contract.  

In the same way that Jesus prayed before calling his disciples, HFI members are to spend time in prayer to see what he is calling them to do in their vocation as married couples and how they can encourage others in their own vocation in life, according to Father Roehrig. He said the most important aspect about vocations is developing a relationship with the Lord.  

“See where the Lord is calling us,” said Father Roehrig.  

He further encouraged the HFI members to pray for people who never answered their call to their vocation in life or betrayed their vocation.  

“Also, pray that all is for the glory of God and souls,” said Father Roehrig. Noting HFI’s mission to evangelize through all appropriate means, including modern means of social communication, Father Roehrig reminded the retreatants that they preach the Gospel through their actions, DVDs, downloads, Internet visits and other technology.  

The Triduum attendees said they found the messages and time together inspirational.  

Roselyn Curran, who attended the retreat with her husband, Gary, said she was drawn to HFI through her friendship with Barbara Helm.  

“I look toward Barbara as a person of holiness. I said, ‘I’m not holy enough’ – I had a poor self image,” said Curran.  

Through Helm’s encouragement she became a member of HFI. 

Curran concedes that she had an “on and off” period during her time of discerning whether to join HFI.  

But she says as she attended daily Mass at St. Francis Chapel, she found that the religious sisters and other people were very friendly. One woman gave Curran, who was pregnant at the time with her last child, a “motherhood manual.” It reassured her, because it was her fifth of five children born by caesarean section, Erin, whom she calls a gift.  

The woman’s offering of the book moved Curran to give away books to other mothers. “The more I was giving out books the more I realized I was doing a lot of what the apostolate did,” said Curran, who recalled that her mother encouraged her to pray to the Holy Family during her difficult pregnancies.  

Gary Curran said he enjoyed the extra prayer time with Roselyn at the retreat.  

“I’m thankful for all we have. We compliment each other,” said Gary.  

Curran, in turn, influenced Darlene Vidrine, of Palmetto, who was accompanied by her husband, Kirby, at the retreat. Vidrine learned about HFI when she overheard a conversation by Curran.  

“I thought she was becoming a nun,” Vidrine mused. 

Vidrine said she was holding her daughter, Mary, now 25, in her arms and the two women connected through Mary.  

She said HFI brought her and her husband graces that helped them raise their children, whom she homeschooled in a Catholic environment.  

“I think it (HFI) brought Darlene and I together in our prayer life,” said Kirby Vidrine.  

Laura Manderfield Kranske, who attended the retreat with her husband, Archie, said it was through the Pauline family and its emphasis on proclaiming the Gospel through mass media that she decided to open St. Mary’s Book Store in Baton Rouge, which Father Roeher blessed during the retreat.  

“Holy Family is a way of life,” said Laura. “In order to have holiness in your family you have to have a love of your faith and people.”  

Those wanting to know more about HFI are invited to attend their meetings, which take place the second Sunday of the month, 3-4 p.m., at the St. Francis Chapel of Ollie Steele Burden Manor, 4200 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge.