What is a Marriage Encounter?
Marriage Encounter abbreviated as M.E. is a Roman Catholic Movement for married couples. A program given during a weekend that is a positive and personal experience offering married couples an opportunity to exercise a technique of loving communication that they can use for the rest of their lives. It’s a chance to look deeply into their relationship with each other and with God. It’s a time to share their feelings, hopes and dreams with each other.
The emphasis of the Marriage Encounter weekend is on the communication between husbands and wives. The weekend provides a conducive environment for couples to spend time together, away from the distractions and tensions of everyday life, while encouraging them to focus on each other and their relationship.
It’s not a retreat, marriage clinic, group sensitivity, or a substitute for counseling. It’s a unique approach aimed at revitalizing Marriage.
This is a time for you and your spouse to be alone together, to rediscover each other and together focus on your relationship for an entire weekend. Every marriage deserves that kind of attention!
Who is it for?
Any married couple who desires a richer, fuller life together. A marriage can never be too good. Marriage Encounter is designed to deepen and enrich the joys a couple share together, whether they have been married for only a short
What Worldwide Marriage Encounter is and is not
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Why would priests or other religious attend?
The Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend is designed in such a way that both priests and religious can participate fully. The principles of love, commitment and effective communication translate quite readily to the relationship between a priest and his parish or any group to whom he ministers as well as to a religious community.
Priests who have made a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend call the experience “life enhancing.”
Is there a specific religious orientation to the weekend?
Marriage Encounter does present God as a focus for successful marriage. There are many other faith expressions of Marriage Encounter Weekends -beyond Catholic. See other M.E. hot links. While the Weekend may be presented in a given Faith expression, each is open to couples from other orientations. The opportunities of the Weekend go beyond the boundaries of any one expression.
What happens at a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend?
A series of presentations are given by a team of married couples and a religious in the particular faith expression (priest or minister). Each presentation allows you and your spouse a rare opportunity to look at yourselves as individuals, then to look at your marriage and relationship to one another, and finally to look at your relationship to God and to the world. The weekend starts at 8:00 on Friday night and runs until about 5:00 on Sunday afternoon. Meals are provided.
Does the weekend respect the couple’s privacy?
YES! The weekend is oriented strictly to each individual couple. You concentrate on your spouse to such an extent that you are hardly aware of the other couples present. The presentations are given to the group as a whole. After each presentation, the husband and wife have time in the privacy of their room for their own personal discussion.
How does a Marriage Encounter enhance a marriage?
The encounter weekend teaches a communication technique which permits each couple to explore important areas of their relationship in a spirit of love and understanding. By continuing the newly-acquired technique begun on the weekend, husbands and wives continually grow closer together to live more joyful and purposeful lives.
While not an essential part of the experience, the availability of a community of others who have shared the Weekend and who share similar values provides a supportive environment for even further growth.
How do I get more information?
To have information sent to you, or to have someone call you with more information, please see also other M.E. sites that is probably more nearer to your residence address, fill out an online request, if there is any.
History of ME around the World
· S P A I N
The story of Marriage Encounter began in Spain where, in the 1952, a priest by the name of Fr. Gabriel Calvo and one Spanish couple Mercedes and Jame Ferrer began developing a series of conferences ending in questions that encouraged husbands and wives to become more open and honest. in 1962 they brought together 28 Spanish couples for the first WeekEndcalled “Encuentro Conyugal”.
In 1966 they brought this to Latin American Countries and afterwards to the State for Spanish speaking couples.
· Latin America and U.S.A.
The movement grew within the structure of the Christian Family Movement (CFM) and spread throughout parts of South and Central America. The Marriage Encounter movement in the English-speaking world began in August 1967 at the close of the CFM conference at Notre Dame University.
At the Notre Dame conference, a Mexican couple and an American Missionary priest from Mexico presented the encounter program to seven American couples and a few priests and nuns. From that beginning, Marriage Encounter has grown worldwide to include 1.25 million people, with a growth rate of some 200,000 per year.
Following a 1968 weekend, a number of couples made the decision to actively bring Marriage Encounter to as many couples as possible.
The New York area quickly became a center of ME and developed as the core of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter movement, under the guidance of Ed and Harriet Garzero, a couple active in CFM, and Fr. Charles A. Gallagher, SJ, a Long Island youth retreat master. Marriage Encounter began scheduling a weekend every month, then two per month. Couples urged their friends to experience the encounter and, by the beginning of 1970, an encounter was scheduled for every weekend.
Certain couples were selected each weekend to receive further training. They became “team couples”, able to present weekends along with a priest to help others rediscover the love that brought them together.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s first overseas expansion came in 1971. American team couples were sent to Belgium, and later to England, and then on to more and more countries to the point where there are now 72 countries that have experience the weekend.
To keep Marriage Encounter alive and strong, a follow-up program was initiated, based on a system of local communities for support. Most importantly, the encounter technique – the technique of dialogue to enable couples to communicate their deepest feelings – was improved and refined.
Encounter weekends have always been open to all faiths. But in 1971 the decision was made to introduce Marriage Encounter to the Jewish and Episcopal faiths. The Catholic movement supported them financially and with guidance while their programs began. Since then, many religious faiths, including Methodist, Lutherans, the Reorganized Latter Day Saints, Presbyterians, etc., have developed their own expressions.
Expanded Marriage Encounter programs, offered to the entire Catholic Church, are growing and spreading. They include sessions for couples, evenings for parents, parish growth programs, family weekends and premarriage instructions.
Solving individual marital problems has never been the goal of Marriage Encounter. Instead, during the weekend a husband and wife are given the opportunity to share the emotions that so often are kept buried inside. They are taught how to make such communication a part of everyday life.
Marriage Encounter emphasizes the beauty of belonging totally to one another. Marriage Encounter teaches that marriage is a joyous celebration of God’s plan for men and women, shared with the person chosen to be loved.
· B E L G I U M
In early 1970, Cardinal Suenens learned to know Marriage Encounteer during one of his tour to America. He forwarded a Vlaamist priest namely Guido Heyrbaut to settled down the Marriage Encounter also in Belgium. Upon his request brought Guido Heyrbaut this WeekEnd experience to Europe. He gave his first weekend at Sinksen 1972. Very short after that the Vlaamist Marriage Encounter Movement started an important role in spreading the M.E. WeekEnds philosphies to the whole World. Vlaamist couples and priests shared the first WeekEnds for other countries and supported the local kernels a.o. Chili, Indonesia, Netherland, Italy, Zaire, Germany, etc. Up to now they are still eagered to promote further with all capacities and tools their owned.