Engaged Couples Parish Based Retreat
The retreat is not mandatory in the Diocese of Colorado Springs’ Marriage Preparation requirements. It is strongly recommended and it is up to each Pastor to use his pastoral discretion in that matter.
Apart from existing diocesan retreats, like Engaged Encounter (http://www.engagedencounter.org/), there is a need for parish based retreats.
The obvious first goals of an engaged couples retreat is to feed them spiritually and give them the means to start a spiritual path together.
There is more:
These couples are the future of the Parish, of the Church and of Society.
The engaged couples getting married in the Catholic Church don’t always belong to a parish and may not even be practicing Catholics. A parish based retreat will give them a chance to:
- Meet the Clergy and other couples:
During a parish based retreat these engaged couples will have a chance to meet with their priests and deacons, the Catechist of their future children; they will also have a chance to socialize with the other couples they will likely meet at Church.
- Understand the importance of belonging to the Parish and the Church:
It is a great opportunity for the parish to show these couples that the Catholic Church is a welcoming good mother; make them hear about the importance and benefits of practicing the Sacraments.
They can have a glimpse at what the Church can offer to them and their future families and what they could bring to the Parish.
The parish-based retreat is a way for the parish to recruit new blood.
Template for a Parish Based Retreat
Possible schedule for a one day retreat (Saturday)
- One or two teachings about the Sacrament of reconciliation and the Mass.
For example, give a teaching about the Sacrament of Reconciliation and offer them to receive this vital Sacrament.
- Take a long lunch break allowing them to meet the Clergy, some parish staff and the other couples. (It could be as simple as a brown bag lunch.)
- Meet with parish married couples, Catechists; discuss raising children in the Catholic Faith.
- Give a teaching about the Mass and the unfolding of the Mass. Offer them to participate in the Saturday evening Mass.
They commit to go to Sunday Mass, but they may not fully understand the deep meaning of the Mass.
If they have a better, more spiritual understanding of the Mass it will make it more attractive to them, and motivate them to attend regularly.
Marriage Prep Step by Step
Before anything else, engaged couples need to first meet with their Pastor or Deacon. During this essential visit couples will understand the importance of the different steps. What is the next step? (More…)
From our experience and the feedback we get from engaged couples, the best would be for the engaged couples to start their preparation with the Catholic Marriage Prep course, that includes the spiritual and sacramental formation.
It will prepare them to understand better why they have to take the full NFP training. It will also give them the opportunity to discuss many topics they hadn’t talked about and they will know each other better. That will prepare them for the FOCCUS. The meetings with their mentor couple will be much more beneficial and should avoid repetitions.
They can take the NFP or the FOCCUS as their following step or simultaneously.
We believe the retreat should conclude the whole marriage preparation process.