Got Marriage Prep?
Thank you for your interest in Catholic Engaged Encounter! Our Got Marriage Prep? campaign is indented to help diocesan and parish staff better understand what Catholic Engaged Encounter is, and how our weekend-long retreats are a compliment to your existing marriage preparation programs!
Not sure if your diocese has a Catholic Engaged Encounter community, click here to check!
Below are some frequently asked questions about Catholic Engaged Encounter. If you want more information, please fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page!
What is Catholic Engaged Encounter?
Catholic Engaged Encounter is an intense weekend-long working retreat that helps prepare couples for a life as husband and wife. The design of the retreat is to have a priest and two married couples present concepts focused on relationship to each other and to God, based on 5 major themes: The Family we Grew Up In, Sacramental Marriage, Communications, Intimacy - more than just sex, and Values. The retreat is not classes or group therapy, instead, it provides private one-on-one time for the couple to learn about each other. Catholic Engaged Encounter believes that through the presentations and personal sharing, engaged couples will examine more fully the expectations and hopes that come with a lifelong marriage, a marriage with God and commitment at its center. In this way, the opportunity is provided to discover and nurture the existing desire to have their marriage become sacramental.
Does Catholic Engaged Encounter Replace Our In Parish Program?
No. Catholic Engaged Encounter is designed as a retreat for couples planning to be married in the Catholic Church. The retreat is a great compliment to pre-marriage inventories, in-parish pre-Cana classes, and mentorship programs.An important gift of the weekend-long retreat to engaged couples is an experience of the presenting couples as a living model. Content is presented with a minimum of teaching and a maximum of shared lived experiences of the concepts being discussed. The retreat emphasizes the message that Christian marriage is an ongoing relationship that needs and deserves constant attention and commitment.
How is Catholic Engaged Encounter Different?
Catholic Engaged Encounter is a weekend spent away from a couple's normal life, and secular wedding planning for the purpose of building a stronger, deeper, more open and honest relationship as husband and wife and with God. Our volunteers minister to the engaged and we evangelize by inviting the engaged to participate in the Church through ministry and service, including Catholic Engaged Encounter. We are a weekend of beginnings, of opening doors and planting seeds.
The power of Catholic Engaged Encounter comes from the interaction of the three elements. This interaction can create a fire in the lives of the engaged. Just as fire needs fuel, oxygen and
heat, there are three critical elements to the CEE retreat.
- Fuel – the content that comes from God and gives hope and energy to the engaged couple’s relationship.
- Oxygen – the delivery process that encourages a deeper couple communication through sharing and prayer.
- Heat – provided by the warm witness of the priest and married couples sharing their commitment and passion for marriage.
What are the Basic Components of the Retreat?
The basic components of the Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat are:
- The retreat is Catholic in thought, morality, ritual, and expression.
- The retreat is truly a spiritual experience, enriched by the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the celebration of the Eucharist. The CEE retreat is presented in a prayerful atmosphere (e.g. couple prayer, team prayer). We invite couples of all faiths and beliefs.
- The weekend is presented in a retreat atmosphere that allows the engaged couples to deepen their relationship and to recognize more deeply the presence and the role of God in their lives.
- The basic focus of the retreat is couple preparation to live the Sacrament of Matrimony through deepening communication, time together and time with God.
- The CEE program is vested in a National/International vision.
- The CEE weekend-long retreat is a gift and product of a community of volunteers whose ministry is to serve engaged couples and who are committed to living the program concepts Communities structure themselves according to the handbook and follow the national outline and guidelines.
- Our CEE retreat uses written presentations and other materials, developed in a community workshop process according to National Guidelines. Each activity of the retreat conveys specific concepts and principles. The sequence of the talks is designed to develop these concepts and principles, building one upon the other.
- The weekend-long retreat focuses on structured private time for couples to write and dialogue, based on the concepts of the talks presented by the teams.
- The presenting teams communicate primarily through sharing their lives and the way that they live out their Sacraments. The personal sharing is designed to encourage the engaged couples to share, explore and internalize these concepts in their marriage.
- The retreat provides opportunities for developing tools and skills to enhance the marriage relationship (e.g. couple dialogue and decision making).
Is Catholic Engaged Encounter Offered in Multiple Languages?
Currently, Catholic Engaged Encounter is offered in English and Spanish in several dioceses throughout the United States. While the majority of weekends are presented in English, Catholic Engaged Encounter does provide its workbook to couples in Spanish, for those who feel more comfortable reading and writing in Spanish. Some dioceses offer Catholic Engaged Encounter en Español retreats. Our Catholic Engaged Encounter en Español is expanding to new diocese every year.
What's the Cost?
There is no cost to your parish. Couples are required to pay a fee to attend the retreat. These fees vary based upon location and generally include food, materials, and lodging (where applicable). Catholic Engaged Encounter believes that no couple should be turned away because of finances. As such, each local community has financial assistance available for couples in need. Please speak with you local community about financial assistance.
Does Catholic Engaged Encounter Cover Natural Family Planning?
Yes. Catholic Engaged Encounter provides basic information about how Natural Family Planning works, how it helps a couple’s marriage, and why using NFP is in accordance with Catholic teaching. Our NFP component DOES NOT provide complete instruction on how to use Natural Family Planning. Engaged couples are provided with a local contact to take complete instruction is using NFP
How long has Catholic Engaged Encounter Been Around?
Catholic Engaged Encounter was founded out of the World Wide Marriage Encounter (WWME) movement, and has been providing a marriage preparation that reaches the hearts of young people, appealing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism and has invited them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm since 1976!
Is the Catholic Engaged Encounter Outline Up-to-date?
The Catholic Engaged Encounter presenting outline received a massive overhaul in 2010, updating outdated language and adding more emphasis on preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage and more Scripture. Our standing Outline Revision Committee (ORC) meets regularly to continuously address changes in society, especially the advent of impersonal communication (e‐mail, texting, etc.), the changes in social mores (access to pornography, more cohabitation, etc.) and the preoccupation with money and power are acknowledged.
How are Religious Involved in the Retreat?
Most Catholic Engaged Encounter retreats have a priest on the weekend as part of the presenting team. In some cases, deacons (and their wives) are a presenting team, and the deacon presents the section of each presentation that would be presented by a priest. When a priest or deacon is unavailable, the team couples have written the parts of the presentation where the priest/deacon is not available. In the preparation and workshopping of their presentations, couples are encouraged to discuss with a priest on how to handle any topic that involves Church teaching.
How do I Know if a Couple has Completed Catholic Engaged Encounter?
At the end of each weekend-long retreat, the presenting team gives each couple in attendance a certificate verifying their attendance. In order to receive their certificate, couples must attend each presentation given during the retreat. If a couple arrives late or leaves early, they will miss important parts of the weekend experience. On rare occasions, a presenting team may not provide a couple their certificate and will contact a priest or marriage and family life coordinator about that couple.
Are there any ground rules for the weekend?
Yes, we ask that couples observe a few basic rules
- Couples must refrain from the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Couples must respect this is a Catholic retreat – we ask that couples dress appropriately.
- Couples respect that the weekend is presented at a Catholic Church and be respectful of your surroundings.
- Couples cannot leave the retreat, for any reason, unless an emergency arises. If they need to leave, couples should speak with the presenting team prior to their departure.