What is Catholic Engaged Encounter?
We want to be a positive part of your engagement. We are an energized community of volunteer couples and priests whose common bond is our belief in the sacrament of marriage and family life. We provide a working weekend retreat format designed to create a focus on private couple communication. Attendees are couples of all faiths – usually planning to marry in the Catholic Church. Last year more than 20,000 couples participated in Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends throughout the country. They deepened their communication, reinforced their commitment and strengthened their love. Think about investing in what could be a very important part of a lifetime together.
Engaged Encounter focuses on communication in your relationship. You will learn new tools for listening, writing and enhancing your communication with each other. EE is a weekend of beginnings, of planting seeds and of opening doors. We encourage couples to reach within themselves to discover or reinforce the belief that your marriage can be forever, that love is forever, and that God wishes to be forever present in your sacramental relationship.
What Happens on an EE Weekend?
An atmosphere is created for the two of you to concentrate exclusively on each other, free of the distractions, pressures and interruptions of daily living – a “time out” away from home, friends, and wedding preparations. There are no group dynamics or group therapy. It is a quiet weekend, specifically designed to give you the opportunity to talk honestly and intensively about your future together – an opportunity to discover a deeper appreciation of your relationship and God’s call to unite in a permanent union, the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The weekend consists of a series of presentations beginning Friday evening and ending Sunday afternoon. Led by a team of married couples and a priest, the two of you are encouraged to talk privately with each other on many aspects of marriage, always from the viewpoint of your own relationship.
Among the subjects you will have an opportunity to discuss with each other are your ambitions, goals, attitudes about God, sex, money, children, family, and your role in the church and community. Personal reflection and couple discussion are the main focus of our weekend. Since each relationship is in a different place, your private answers will be unique and special to your relationship.
Through personal sharings, the members of the presenting team talk about what the sacrament of matrimony means to them individually and the impact a great marriage can have on the world. We will not tell you how to live your life. Our stories are meant to encourage you to explore your own attitudes and expectations. We will offer some good ideas and tools to help the two of you to continue growing closer through the years.
Why Should We Go on A Weekend?
Our motto is a “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.” Think of all the preparation you have done for your career or job. Most us spend years studying or learning. Think of the preparation taken for your wedding day. Most people spend months planning and many dollars preparing for their wedding. But how much time and effort do we spend preparing for what we hope will last 50 or 60 years – our marriage?
Ask yourself this question, “Am I willing to spend 44 hours devoted to hearing ideas and learning skills that will help to make my marriage the best it can be?”
Do I Have to be Catholic?
No. Catholic Engaged Encounter does present God as a focus for a successful marriage. While the weekend will be presented in a Catholic expression of faith, each weekend is open to couples of all faiths. The opportunities of the weekend go well beyond the boundaries of any one faith expression. We are not going to try to convert you or pressure you in any way. Couples where neither person is Catholic are welcome as well.
Does Engaged Encounter Satisfy the Catholic Church’s Requirement for Marriage Preparation?
Within the Diocese of Arlington, Engaged Encounter is endorsed as fulfilling this requirement. We work with the Family Life Office. Our program is also frequently accepted in other Dioceses and states. Whether in Arlington or elsewhere, your priest always has the final say on what he will accept for your marriage preparation. Please check with the priest who will officiate your wedding before registering. At the conclusion of the weekend, you will receive a certificate to give to your priest verifying your participation.
What if We Are Civilly Married?
After you meet with your priest and he schedules your wedding, you are welcome on the weekend as you prepare for your sacramental marriage within the Church. If you intend to just stay civilly married, then we suggest a Marriage Encounter Weekend. This is a similar weekend oriented to improving communication for couples already married.
Do We Have to Speak In Front of the Group?
No. Engaged Encounter is non-threatening. You will be asked to introduce yourself and your fiancé. This is the only time you are required to speak in front of the group. There will be only one group discussion period, and participation is voluntary. No one is forced to speak out. The weekend is not group therapy. Your privacy will be respected. The weekend is not counseling nor is it based on group discussions. The weekend is designed for the two of you to have quality time for private discussions.