•Alicho said lack of strong family religion results in many street children, increasing divorce and broken families and sadness.
• Former parish chair Jonah Aluiga said young people should not raise funds for costly, showy weddings, but saving money for their future and their children's education.
They said a family that prays together stays together.
But come-we-stay relationships are fragile and easily undermined because they are not founded in religious teaching.
These are the words of Father Vincent Alicho, a Nigerian missionary trying to build and save families through church weddings.
He conducted a group wedding of 14 couples at Kiembeni Holy Family Catholic Church on Sunday in Mombasa.
'Come-we-stay' is not an option. These setups never solve marital problems because there is no commitment. They are the bane of broken families.Nigerian missionary Fr Vincent Alicho
Many brides wore white with veils, or their colourful Sunday best. Some carried bouquets. Men wore dark suits, some had flowers in their buttonholes.
One couple with six children was hearing- and speech impaired and used sign language interpreters.
The cost: Sh1,400 per couple for a government certificate. The parish certificate, all the flowers, cake, food refreshments, and other necessities were financed by the church —about Sh300,000 for 14 couples.
"'Come-we-stay' is not an option. They never solve marital problems because there is no commitment. They are the bane of broken families,” Alicho said after the wedding.
The priest said it's important to build families on strong foundations of the church because this strengthens the family unit.
“A strong family unit has a domino effect of building a strong community, a strong society and a strong nation, which in the end is seen in the country’s economic and social development,” Alicho said.
Sunday’s theme was ‘My Family, My Pride’.
Alicho said there are many street children, increased cases of divorce, broken families and sad families because most were not built on the strong foundations of religion.
He encouraged young people to avoid the youth to shun come-we-stay relationships and adopt church weddings.
People fear solemnising their marriages because of the costs. These costs make people take loans for weddings," I do not advise that.former parish chair Jonah Aluiga
Many young people today say life is becoming more difficult, complicated and expensive, preferring come-we-stay relationships, saying they are living together is pretty much the same and it's cost-effective.
Fr Alicho says weddings are simply ceremonies and do not have to be extravagant.
Former parish chair Jonah Aluiga said young people should not organise fundraisings for their weddings.
“People fear solemnising their marriages because of the costs. These costs make people take loans for weddings," I do not advise that," Aluiga said.
He said the church can cater for most of the wedding costs.
Thomas Wambua and Phylis Mbithe, a youthful couple who wed on Sunday, urged other young people to go for group weddings.
“It saves a lot of money, energy, and other resources. In the end, the certificate is the same, whether you spent Sh3 million for the wedding or just Sh1,400,” Wambua said.
Mbithe also said a mass wedding also removes the anxiety as there is no special focus on a single couple as in the case of an individual wedding.
I was not expecting to do a wedding. But now I feel like I have been reborn.Bridegroom David Kalume
"The urge to show off to friends pushes young people to do lavish weddings that they cannot afford. Then they end up suffering after the wedding," she said.
David Kalume said he never even considered doing a wedding with his partner, Prisca.
The couple has been living together for 15 years and has two children.
“I was not expecting to do a wedding but nowI feel like I have been reborn,” Kalume said after the group ceremony.
Prisca said she prays for a better, peaceful, loving and united family for the rest of their lives.
George Karanja and his wife Nancy Nyaboke have been staying together for five years.
The two said they had plans for a wedding but were always frustrated because they didn't have enough money.
“Now I feel like a complete man because I have done a church wedding, which was my dream, Karanja said.
His wife Nyaboke said, "Now we will use the little that we had started saving for a marriage to invest in our children’s education,” she said.
The visually- and speech-impaired couple was ecstatic.
“I only watch weddings on TV. I am happy that today, people are going to watch my wedding on TV.," Alice Wambui said after exchanging 'silent' vows with her life partner Benedict Zuma.
Not her words exactly, her words through a sign language interpreter.
Alice and Benedict have been together for 30 years. hey have six children.
(Edited by V. Graham)