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Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce Coffee Contacts; First Friday Club With Father Shchlegel

We started off Thursday, February 2nd, at an Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" gathering that was held at the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor and catered by Ms. Stacie Anderson, the manager of the very successful local "Chick-Fil-A" who brought coffee, fruit, pastries, and small meat sandwiches feed the 30 or so people who got up early to be there.

Mr. Tony Pestyk, the General Manager of the Great Lakes Mall, reminded us that today was Groundhog Day and someone call out that Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of winter which brought forth several murmurings of utterances like "shucks" or "oh heck" from the participants although we're fine with winter as long as we can get from one place to another without slipping (either our car or our body) on the ice. When it was our time to share who we are and what we do, we mentioned that we had been to a Lion Dance and that the Lion has thus far granted our wish for safe travel on the icy roads.

We talked privately with several people about the Trump administration's Executive Order on immigration and one man told us that he supported the concept behind it but acknowledged that the Order's poor draftsmanship has resulted in people being hurt who shouldn't have been and thus supported an eventual, more appropriate rewriting. Likewise, another person said that "hopefully reason wins" ultimately.

We didn't know this until now but our friend Mr. Ernie Brass who we have been seeing at coffee contacts and other chamber events for close to three years is an adjunct professor at Tri-C where he teaches a three-part series of classes about the history of immigration to the United States. The section that he is currently teaching concerns the immigration of Europeans to the United States. Of course he is aware of the work of "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" and really loved our most recent holiday party. When we asked Mr. Brass if he has a copy of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" he smiled and said that he owns copies in both English and Chinese.

Our next event was the monthly "First Friday Club" luncheon and we were among the first to arrive at the City Club. We got to talk with Ms. Gay Eyerman, a local writer and media consultant, about what "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" does and what we do for it. This was Ms. Eyerman's second visit to the "First Friday Club" since she was there when Mr. Terry Pluto spoke as were we. Also present was Ms. Janet Pearl (who is a consistent regular along with her father Mr. Bob Pearl) who told us that she attended the program concerning swing dance at Baldwin-Wallace not too long ago and remembered seeing us there.

The speaker of the day was Father Dan Schlegel, pastor of the Church of the Holy Angels in Bainbridge Township who was there to talk about his work as Diocesan Moderator for "Retrouvaille" a program the aids couples in troubled marriages. "Retrouvaille" is French for "rediscovery" and so-named because the program was actually founded in Toronto in 1977 and now has a presence in seventeen countries and one hundred and seventy local communities around the world.

Father Schlegel has been involved with it for 22 years now and told us about how the program works and how it has helped many people of all backgrounds, all income levels and all faiths; in short, as long as people can accept the program as being Catholic-run, they are welcome to take part. Basically, it initially involves a full weekend of couples interacting with each other followed by 6 three hour follow-up sessions over three months.

We later visited the "Retrouvaille" website which is "" and we we came across a paragraph which read, in part, that the program "presents a technique of communication that enables you to take a good look at most areas of your relationship. The team does not provide marriage advice. The team provides practical tools for improving your marriage. They will share how they were able to benefit from these techniques themselves. After each presentation you will have the chance to reflect on it by yourself, then discuss it in complete privacy with your spouse."

 Father Schlegel said working with "Retrouvaille" has been very rewarding for him because "you see hearts change and a new openness" and one is able to sense "a new energy and vitality in marriage."

As we mentioned earlier, "Retrouvaille" is a very international program; emails about when and where the sessions are taking place go out to people from all over the world who show their support by offering prayers. What's more, Father Schlegel shared plans to conduct the program locally in Spanish in order to make it more accessible and involve the Hispanic parishes. Unfortunately he, himself, does not speak Spanish but Father Mike Stalla from Ss Cosmas and Damien Catholic Church in Twinsburg does speak the language and he has offered to help.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.


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