Daniel and Irma Lopez tell us about their meeting with Alpha’s Marriage Course, love at first sight, favored by an idea of the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Presentation of the protagonists of this experience
Daniel Lopez, 55, and Irma Pardal, 53, are married and live in Buenos Aires. They have been married for 32 years. They share work projects and serve in many pastoral activities. They have three children, Matias Ezequiel, who is 28 years old, Maria Clara, 26, and Ana Lucia, 22.
Both are psychological counselors and have degrees in theology. Daniel Lopez is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. He earned the degree in Pastoral Theology and the Master's at the University of Salamanca specialized on "Family as a social subject."
This is an ecumenical experience that was created thanks to a personal initiative of Pope Francis, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. During the ordination of some permanent deacons, in 2011, he proposed to them his idea of engaging each in a special diakonia. Consequently, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio gave to one of the new deacons, Daniel Lopez, the special task of working in the evangelization of the family. Having received this assignment, Daniel then immediately reflected on how to do this in practice, and he also engaged his wife Irma in this reflection. He recalls, "This was a real challenge for me. His Eminence told me to advance serenely, to discern slowly the form of this diaconate, drawing sketches, like an artist." The early days were difficult for Daniel, because he found himself on roads that had already been thoroughly mapped-out, and so did not leave him much room in his service to the family for the personal and creative touch that he felt called to give. "I really wanted to go beyond the usual pastoral activities dedicated to this area—notes the deacon—, and I finally understood what to do when the Lord spoke to me through a sister of my community and the flyer that, one day, she decided to show me, which bore the words "Alpha Marriage Course."
That meeting raised Daniel’s heart such a strong impression that he went looking for more information about that course, "until—he recalls—I understood everything so clearly that this light could only have come from God." After meeting the promoters of the course, Nicky and Sila Lee, members of the Anglican Church in London, and attending classes for leading couples conceived by them—in preparation for teaching within the Alpha Course—, Daniel and his wife Irma enthusiastically began supporting the fundamental concept of the experience: an ecumenical marriage course, open to all Christian Churches, but also to non-believers. Another characteristic feature of the experience, which remains now as it was then, is the commensality of the meetings, i.e. couples sit at tables, sharing a meal together and telling each other about the great little moments that, for better or worse, form their love relationship, by giving it life. "Immediately after our first encounter with Nicky and Sila—says Daniel—, it was therefore possible for us to make our specific contribution, before the participants of the course, with the presentation of marriages celebrated in our diocese." Within a year, eleven courses were developed, three teams of leading couples were formed, and this service was provided to over 280 participants. Another project, presently being prepared, is that of creating a team for courses dedicated to parents, as well as starting the formation of new teams in the more distant dioceses of Argentina. "I believe that the most important gift that I have received from the Alpha course—Daniel emphasizes—is that it has consolidated the loving relationship between me and my wife, while giving us new tools to be put at the service of the other couples. We both work daily to deepen our bond of love and to ensure that each couple can strengthen theirs. This is really exciting for us, and it gives us the incentive to tell others about our experience."