Your Family Matters - Wine out of water

Photo: Courtesy Carrie Anderson Photo: Courtesy Carrie Anderson

Inspired by the wedding at Cana, couples’ group mixes wine, laughter and fellowship with prayer for marriages

“We had been craving community at St. Monica [Parish on Mercer Island], just wanting some kind of couple’s group,” Bill recounted. “Father Freitag was talking about the dissolution of marriages. … Divorce after divorce. It was on his heart that we need prayers for these marriages, and they need help. So it was something that was on our heart,” he told me.

Inspired during eucharistic adoration together, Bill and Carrie Anderson gathered a group of six couples from the parish to meet regularly for dinner about two years ago. They share wine, laughter and fellowship. After dinner, they pray a rosary. They meet in the spirit of the wedding at Cana, as indicated by their name, WOW: Wine Out of Water. (see John 2:1-11)

Carrie and Bill were inspired with the idea of “praying for couples and being a witness to happy marriage.” Taking their inspiration from the wedding at Cana, the Andersons sought joyful married couples from their parish to join them. In the story of Christ’s first miracle, Carrie said, “the part that really spoke to us was that he turned the water into wine, which represents joy.” Bill explained that they wanted the meetings not just to be about prayer, but to be something where they’re having fun and building community.

So the wine comes first at their gatherings. A hot meal, potluck sides and table conversation that warms everyone with “great Catholic fellowship,” as Bill put it. After the dishes are cleared away, they intercede for singles, for marriages, for marriage in society, and they pray for vocations. “Our prayer is the rosary,” Carrie explained. “Our Blessed Mother was the one who interceded at that very first miracle, so we knew that she was going to have to be who we turned to for intercession for marriage and for joy to be returned to marriages.”

The Andersons say the rosary saved their own marriage. Raised Catholic, but not practicing, they had been suffering greatly in their own marriage, “fighting tooth and nail.” After Carrie turned back to her Catholic faith, she began praying the rosary with their children. Bill was having a difficult time with their teenage son. At Carrie’s urging, he started joining in the family rosary. (He was also motivated by their kids, who were making fun of him for not knowing how.)

“As soon as I prayed the rosary, peace came over our family,” he said.

The Andersons said the WOW group rosary has had a transformative impact. “We have seen miracles,” Bill said. A divorce was averted. One cohabiting couple they prayed for decided to marry in the church. Three adult children of WOW group members have married. “We really pray for our single kids,” Carrie confided. “We continue to pray for each of them to find their future spouses, and we pray for their future spouses.”

The couples in the group all have children in their teens or young adult years. They can relate to each other well since they’re at a similar stage in life. It is a stage that, for these couples, is fruitful and full of joy. Carrie affirmed that in her marriage with Bill, they feel like they are “drinking the wine” now, whereas before, when they didn’t have Christ at the center, “it was dry.”

For them, the Lord has saved the best wine for last. And through their Catholic fellowship and prayers, the power of his joy in the sacrament of marriage is flowing abundantly.

I’ll drink to that!

Northwest Catholic - June 2017

Sarah Bartel

Sarah Bartel, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner, holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, where she specialized in marriage, family, sexual ethics and bioethics. Her website is