About Us

What is Catholic Engaged Encounter?

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. Annually, more than 20,000 couples participate in Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends throughout the world. These engaged couples 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.

History of Engaged Encounter

In 1974, in response to the growing incidence of separation and divorce, the newly formed Marriage Encounter Resource Community turned their attention to marriage preparation. The group adapted the Marriage Encounter Weekend for the needs of engaged couples, and the first weekend was presented in 1975 in Detroit. The response was immediate. By the end of that year more than 100 couples and 50 priests were trained to give weekends throughout the United States. A lay ministry was born!

Catholic Engaged Encounter of Pittsburgh is one of the founding groups. Two couples from there attended the initial workshop in March of 1975 held in Kansas City, MS, along with 35 other couples and several priests from dioceses all over the U.S. At this workshop the original outline was prepared. The first Pittsburgh weekend was held on May 2-4, 1975 at the Center of Hope in Monroeville. The first national EE convention was held here in the basement of the then Saints Cyril & Methodius Church in McKee's Rocks during the summer of 1975. From these humble beginnings, Catholic Engaged Encounter has grown to be an international organization that serves thousands of couples each year. The 25th National EE Convention was held back in Pittsburgh in honor of the first convention. Almost a thousand people attended the event then held at a major downtown hotel.

The first EE weekend held in Sacramento was in 1992. The EE ministry has been serving engaged couples in the Diocese of Sacramento ever since and continues to thrive. Our presenting couples come from many walks of life but all have one thing in common: they believe in their marriages and the commitment they made on their wedding day.

Our Purpose is to prepare engaged couples for the sacrament of marriage by providing a life-giving view of marriage and by challenging couples to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Our specific goals include:

  • To strengthen marriage and family life.

  • To help develop a contemporary theology of marriage. As married couples we have a great deal to offer from our experiences. We share these openly with the engaged couples.

  • To call our Church to a fresh view of the gift of marriage preparation.

  • To help make Catholic Engaged Encounter available in every diocese in the U.S.

The National Organization of Catholic Engaged Encounter strives to be a truly national family. We have an established structure, which sustains local communities and reaches out to new areas in this country and around the world. The United States national family consists of an Executive Team (a couple and a priest) who directs the activities of the United States National Board. This Board consists of teams that represent the five US districts. These five districts correspond to the five geographical regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, North Central States, and the West. For more information about Catholic Engaged Encounter in other areas, visit our list of communities.

Recognition from Experts:

Catholic Engaged Encounter has won recognition from the National Association of Catholic Family Ministers (NACFLM) with the "Outstanding Organization in Family Life Ministries" award. They state: "This award is presented to Catholic Engaged Encounter to acknowledge the number of years that this organization has provided excellent marriage preparation. Your members have worked tirelessly to provide training, outlines and resources for this important ministry. Your presence in many dioceses throughout the United States is a testimony to the impact that you have had on new families." The CARA study and evaluation of Catholic Engaged Encounter speaks of the value and importance of this ministry for the Catholic Church and other denominations as well.

"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.

"We believe that Engaged Encounter is an opportunity for engaged couples to truly connect with one another on important topics and issues without being distracted by daily life." - Sheri & Bob Stritof, authors of The Everything Great Marriage Book.