What is the Catholic Engaged Encounter Program?

Catholic Engaged Encounter is an in-depth, private, personal, marrtariage preparation experience within the context of Catholic faith and values. The weekend is open to any engaged couple wanting to prepare for a deeper, more meaningful life together in a marriage recognized by the Catholic Church according to its Church law. The Catholic Engaged Encounter program is an investment in the future – a weekend experience in which an atmosphere is created that enables each couple to concentrate exclusively on one another while free of the pressures and interruptions of daily life. It is a non-recreational retreat, but a beautiful a program designed to give each couple an opportunity to discuss honestly with each other, in a face-to-face manner, their strengths and weaknesses, desires, ambitions, goals, their attitudes about money, sex, family, spiritual values, and their role in society.

We are a volunteer group of couples and priests committed to working in the Catholic Church through the ministry to the pre-married. We offer within this apostolate an experiential weekend that calls a man and a woman as a couple to strive for a sacramental way of life through the vocation of marriage. Our policy is to accept a man and a woman, as a couple, who are preparing for a sacramental way of life through the vocation of marriage on a retreat weekend.

What is Catholic Engaged Encounter?

Catholic Engaged Encounter is an international, non-profit, volunteer organization consisting of couples and priests who strongly believe in the sacrament of marriage and its role in our church and society. 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. We want to be a positive part of your engagement with a common bond is our belief in the sacrament of marriage and family life.

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 your lifetime together. Each session consists of personal sharing(s) from the team, followed by a period of time during which you and your fiancé share your ideas, concerns, hopes and feelings with each other via writing. After each writing exercise, you and your fiancé will exchange and read your written letters followed by a private discussion. The writing and dialogue sessions are private and you are never required to share what you have written/discussed with anyone other than your fiancé.

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.  The Engaged Encounter weekend consists of a series of presentations/activities given by a team, usually composed of two married couples and a Catholic priest, who act as facilitators during the weekend. 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 sharing, 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.

Does the couple have to be Catholic?

Although the weekend is designed for couples planning to be married in the Catholic Church, it is open to all couples of any faith.  It has been found to be both beneficial and supporting for couples from other faith and differing faith backgrounds.

What is the Cost of a Weekend? How do we register?

The fee for the weekend varies because of the differing operating costs at our retreat facilities. Please visit our online registration page to view the costs for any particular weekend. The fee to attend an Engaged Encounter weekend covers all materials used on the weekend, meals and facility costs.

Is signing up online safe?

Yes! Your registration data is kept safe and secure in a restricted access database. Further, your payment information is processed through PayPal© using PayPal© security and data protection features.

What if we cannot afford the full cost of an Engaged Encounter weekend retreat?

If you cannot afford the cost of the Engaged Encounter weekend due to financial hardship, please contact our registration volunteer at sandiegoee@gmail.com to inquire about our scholarship program.

Will I receive a confirmation letter after registering?

Yes. You should receive a confirmation email (sent to the email address listed while registering) almost instantly after registering. We will also send a “Welcome” letter two weeks before the start of your weekend. This “Welcome” letter will provide you with directions to our retreat facility and helpful information that you’ll need to know prior to showing up on Friday night. If you do not receive email communication from San Diego Catholic Engaged Encounter, be sure to check your email’s spam folder.

Do we have to stay all weekend?

Yes, it is very important that you stay for the entire weekend. If you arrive late or leave early you will miss important parts of the weekend experience, and we will not be able to give you your weekend certificate verifying your attendance.  The weekend begins on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. and ends Sunday afternoon about 4:00 p.m.  Please arrange your schedule accordingly and select a weekend during which you can make this full commitment.  If there is an emergency and you must be late, please call the lead couple’s cell phone or the registration couple.

Will we have much free time this weekend?

No, the weekend is designed to be intense so that you can spend as much concentrated time together as possible preparing for your marriage. You may find that we stay up later and get up earlier than you typically would on a weekend. Time permitting, we will have a break on Saturday afternoon.

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?”

How soon before the wedding should we attend our weekend?

Although we are called Engaged Encounter, a couple does not need to be actually engaged to attend a weekend.  We recommend the “earlier the better.”   As soon as you are engaged, or even considering engagement, that is the right time to attend a weekend. By attending early, you can discover areas of growth necessary in your relationship, determine if engagement and marriage is right for you at this time (before becoming too invested in the wedding preparations), and avoid the last-minute hassles of attending a weekend while trying to do everything else your wedding day entails.  Specifically, we recommend that you attend a weekend at least three months before your wedding date. It is required that you stay the entire weekend in order to receive a certificate of completion for Catholic weddings.

When should we register for a weekend retreat?

Immediately! The first available retreat is often booked 2-3 months out. We will place you on a wait list if you cannot be scheduled one month or more before your wedding. We try our best to accommodate deploying servicemen/women.

What should we bring to the weekend?

Separate sleeping facilities are provided for men and women on the weekend, so please pack separately.  Please be sure to bring the following items with you:

  • Comfortable casual clothing
  • Sleeping attire
  • A bathrobe, as the facility is “dorm” style, for showering
  • Toiletries, medicines and other personal items

In addition you may want to bring along an extra pillow.

What about sleeping/bathroom arrangements?

You will be assigned a roommate of the same gender during the weekend. While we recognize that couples may already be living together or civilly married, you will not be permitted to share a room with your fiancé while on the weekend. At both of our retreat facilities, dormitory style restrooms are provided with private shower and toilet stalls.

Are there any ground rules for the weekend?

Yes, we do ask that you observe a few basic rules.

  • Please refrain from the use of alcohol and illegal drugs
  • Please sleep in your assigned room
  • Please do not leave the weekend, for any reason, unless an emergency arises.
  • If you need to leave, please speak to one of the team members.
Will dinner be served on Friday evening?

No, dinner will not be served on Friday. On Saturday, three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) will be served. On Sunday, brunch will be served.

Can you accommodate my special diet needs?

Note regarding dietary restrictions. Although we do not have the ability to offer you a different menu, there is fruit and salads available at all meals along with sides to the entrees.  You may be able to supplement your meals with the snacks from the snack room, but please feel free to bring a few personal food choices if you are concerned.  Our refrigerator is available for food storage, we just recommend labeling your food so others do not mistaken it for part of the community fare.

Where can I smoke?

Smoking is permitted in designated areas only.

Comments from the marriage experts.

“Engaged Encounter is the best marriage preparation program in communication for engaged couples of any denomination in the U.S.”
– Michael J McManus, author of the book,”Marriage Savers”,
syndicated columnist in 100 newspapers and radio commentator.

“In addition to pre-marital counseling, another wonderful way to eliminate the unpleasant surprises of early married life is a program called Engaged Encounter … I strongly recommend Engaged Encounter to every couple planning a wedding.”– Dr. James Dobson, author of “Love for a Lifetime”, founder of Focus on the Family

Are children allowed on the Engaged Encounter Weekend?

Unfortunately children of any age are not allowed to attend the Engaged Encounter weekend.

Can I donate to support the mission of the Catholic Engaged Encounter?

Thank you for asking – you can!  To securely donate, just click on the button in the right hand column.

Roisin and Tim O’Neill

Catholic Engaged Encounter – San Diego
Maria & Kris Saradpon

San Diego Spanish Engaged Encounter

Support our Ministry

About this site
This site runs on WordPress, with a separate interface for the registration database. If you are part of an Engaged Encounter community and would like to deploy a similar system, please contact us for how to deploy your own system.

David Carta currently maintains the website and registration system.

The site is hosted by Telaeris.

Atlante Avila of Little Drummer Boy Hosting designed this version of the Website.

Jay Cruz developed the backend registration web interface for the Engaged Encounter in 2011. He provided it as a gift to the Engaged Encounter community for his friends Mike and Debbie Lafferty, who were in charge of registrations at the time. Debbie passed away from cancer in late 2011.

This site is dedicated to Debbie.

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