Engaged Encounter Part II: Three to Get Married?


The first Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE) weekend was given in Detroit in 1974 with the aide of the Marriage Encounter Resource Community. In 1975 CEE became a self-sustaining National Ministry. CEE has had astonishing growth throughout our country and also throughout the world. CEE is now taking place in more than 30 countries around the world. It has become the rpeferred Marriage Preparation Program for the Catholic Church, and today many other Christian denominations also offer Engaged Encounter programs. Engaged Encounter teams are all volunteers.

Earlier this month, my fiance and I attended a Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend. I've already written about the site and the Masses. This part is about the content.

The format, with a couple exceptions, was as follows. The presenting couples and the priest to talk about a topic for up to an hour. Then the men and women would separate and answer questions about the topic. To complete the "unit", the couples would meet privately and discuss each other's answers.

For each topic, I'll present the text from the book (for the benefit of those who haven't been to one of these), but not what was said by the couples, because I did not take copious notes. If something I can remember clarifies a point made, I'll present it. The first paragraph of each section introduces what the couples talked about. The second introduces the writing assignment. The assignment follows. At the end some topics, I'll give a critique.

One overarching theme I would like readers to notice is the lack of Catholic character to the material. One could easily replace "God" in most instances with any random deity and the meaning would not change. Furthermore, Scripture was only sparingly quoted. I found this disturbing. If you'd like a reminder of just what the "Catholic character" of marriage is, I suggest reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1601-1666.

Comments 4

  1. Tom wrote:

    That’s really weak. I wonder if any of the couples there will actually follow the teaching on contraception. With such lame catechesis, I really can’t say that I blame people for not.

    Interesting thought you had about teaching a pre-Cana class using Theology of the Body as the primary source. Another good candidate would be the writings of St. John Chrysostom, the Eastern Doctor whose teachings regarding marriage and family are one of the bases of the ideas we have about Christian love. (As a sidebar, Chrysostom is pretty much the #1 doctor in the Orthodox world, but their follow-up on his doctrines regarding contraception has been really, really weak.)

    Posted 30 Sep 2004 at 7:31 am
  2. regina doman wrote:

    We hated our Engaged Encounter too but we really appreciated the Marriage Encounter retreat we took (ten years later). The rules for arguing was about the best part of the weekend, btw, and got the most use by us.

    Posted 15 Feb 2006 at 9:29 pm
  3. Mary Harlan wrote:

    My parents began the Engaged Encounter in the 60′s. It was not meant to be a “Catholic” experience but an experience for the engaged couple. If you did not attend the Engaged Encounter in the Detroit area, the you attended an off shoot that someone rewrote. In Detroit, when a priest can be found, he comes only to say mass and bless rings. The priest NEVER presents a topic. None of the material was ever copyright protected as my parents felt it could benefit all.

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 5:56 am
  4. Funky Dung wrote:

    Did your parents intend for EE to satisfy diocesan pre-cana requirements? If not, then I’d applaud it as a useful crash course in the psychological and relational aspects of marriage. Whoever decided that this material was adequate for Catholic pre-cana was very wrong. Preparation for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony requires more than EE (as I experienced it) offers. If a weekend is to call itself Catholic Engaged Encounter, it had better present material that authentically represents orthodox Catholicism.

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 6:32 am

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  1. From Ales Rarus - A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Engaged Encounter Part I: House of God? on 19 Apr 2006 at 2:52 pm

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