FOCCUS is not part of the Catholic Engaged Encounter program. The FOCCUS survey should be completed and the results thereof should be discussed with your priest or diocese  representative before you attend the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend.

Please discus the options with your priest who will be officiating your wedding.  He will help determine if this is the best option for you.  This program has had many civilly married attending the weekend with favorable feedback after attending. 

We recommend  using  “earlier the better” policy. Many parishes require you to start marriage prep at least 6 months in advance. As soon as you are engaged, or even considering engagement, it is the right time to attend a retreat. By attending early, you can discover areas of growth necessary in your relationship, determine if engagement and marriage is right for you and avoid the last-minute hassles of attending a retreat while trying to do everything else your wedding day entails.

No, Catholic Engaged Encounter is designed to provide couples getting married the tools needed for a successful marriage. The retreat 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.

Weekends are [$390] per couple. This fee covers individual rooms for one night and 4 meals for both of you. Scholarships are available and must be requested through your priest.  If you need assistance, please have your priest contact Barry and Jennifer VanderKelen jvanderkelen@msn.com to begin the scholarship process.

The retreat is not group therapy.  There are no counselors present on the weekend.   Instead, it provides private time for the couple to learn about each other and marriage based on 5 major themes: The Family we Grew Up In, Sacramental Marriage, Communications, Intimacy and Values. Couples learn about these 5 major themes through a series of presentations given by married couples. After each presentation, both fiancé’s are given time to individually reflect and write on the topic covered. Couples then are given time to privately reflect as a couple. Couples are never required to share with the group.

We suggest you bring the following items with you:

  • Wear comfortable casual clothing;
  • Optional, bring a snack to place on the shared snack table which will be available in the conference room.  With covid in mind the snack should be individually wrapped.  (Note water, tea, and coffee will be provided by the retreat center);
  • A reusable cup to enjoy coffee and water during the retreat; (this will help us do our part and not using so many cups)
  • Any snack or drink items for your own personal consumption.
  • Toiletries, shampoo, medicines and any other personal items you may require.  
  • You are welcome to bring your own pillow if desired. (pillows, linens and towels are provided)

Plan to arrive by 8:40am Saturday morning.  The retreat starts promptly at 9:00am.  

Weekends end Sunday at approximately 3:00pm.

YES, it is very important that you stay for the entire retreat. If you arrive late or leave early, you will miss important parts of the retreat experience, and we will not be able to give you your certificate of completion.

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

  • Please refrain from the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Please remember the weekend is presented at a Catholic facility and be respectful of your surroundings.
  • 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.
  • To stay in the retreat mode and with respect to the presenting teams cell phones need to be put away during presentations and writing time, even if you are done writing.

Dress for the entire weekend is casual. Please dress comfortably. We will attend Mass during the weekend, however casual attire is acceptable.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is a smoke free environment, and due to state law all of our facilities prohibit smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes. If you do smoke, each facility has designated smoking areas outside of the building. Additionally, as a sign of respect, we ask that you please refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping inside the facilities as well.

While couples spend the majority of the retreat together – there is not much free time given the schedule of the weekend.

Catholic Engaged Encounter offers a weekend-long retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, where you can focus on each other, your relationship, and what it means to become a sacrament. As such we ask that couples refrain from using electronic devices  – including cell phones. (you will not need WiFi to complete the weekend)

No, the purpose of the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend is to interact with and talk with your fiance about issues you may not have already discussed. If your fiance is not present, you will be unable to complete the program.

No.  The purpose of the weekend is to focus on one another.

We accept PayPal and credit card payments.  Note that when you check out to pay the option button only shows PayPal, you will need to click on that button to go to the next level.  Once you do that you will see the credit card options.   

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