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 / diocese and or representative before you attend the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend.

We recommend that you use the “earlier the better” policy. Many parishes require you to start marriage prep at least six months in advance. Consider “as soon as you are engaged,” or even “talking about engagement” as the right time to attend a retreat. This retreat is excellent for those who are dating and actively pursuing a spouse. By attending early, you can discover areas of growth necessary in all areas of 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.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is open to all Catholic couples and is designed to provide those couples who are getting married or are interested in getting married with the tools needed for a life long, happy, and successful union. The retreat is open to any engaged couple wanting to prepare for a deeper, more meaningful life together in marriage. This weekend is recognized by the Catholic Church according to its Church law and acts as an excellent preparation for the reception of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The total cost for the weekend retreat is $200.00. The fee must be paid upon registration, made 14 days prior to the weekend, and includes all meals, refreshments, lodging, and hand-outs for two.

Assistance in the form of a “scholarship” is available for couples experiencing financial hardship. This assistance can be up to 50% off the weekend rate. CEE has negotiated a very economical rate for your weekend experience. While the Ponderosa Retreat Center is very rugged like a “dude ranch” and has basic amenities, it is spacious, very clean, and situated in a very peaceful and beautiful wooded area of Larkspur, Colorado. The retreat center helps to keep the cost of the weekend affordable for most if not all of those couples wanting to attend.

PLEASE NOTE: Registration must be made at least 14 days prior to attending the retreat weekend so that we can secure your spot with our venue and vendors. Please see our “Make a Reservation” page for our cancellation, change weekend, and financial assistance policies.

The retreat is not group therapy. The retreat provides private one-on-one time for the couples to learn about each other and marriage based on five major themes: 1) The Family we Grew Up In, 2) Sacramental Marriage, 3) Communications, 4) Intimacy – more than just the physical relationship, and 5) Key Values. Couples learn about these five major themes through a series of presentations given by married couples, experienced teachers and clergy members. After each presentation, both fiancé’s are given time to individually discuss and write on the topic covered. Couples then share these topics together so they can share any insights, expectations and ideas they may have. Couples are never required to share these personal reflections with the entire group.

We suggest you bring the following items with you:

  • Wear comfortable casual clothing, clothing that you would wear out to a restaurant.
  • Bring a snack to place on the shared snack table which will be available in the conference room and any additional snacks that you may wish to consume during breaks or your evening stay. Meals are provided. Please let us know of any dietary restrictions you may have.
  • Bring a six pack of your favorite soda, energy or sports drink if the complimentary water, tea, and coffee needs to be supplemented.
  • Bring a reusable cup or container to enjoy coffee and water during the retreat.
  • Bed sheets, blankets, and a pillow.
  • Robe and shower shoes.
  • Towel, washcloth, and soap.
  • Flashlight (recommended).
  • Fan if desired.
  • Personal items.
  • Jacket or sweater.
  • Camping or folding chair.

Weekends start with check-in on Saturday morning between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

Weekends end on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

Each couple will receive two workbooks to use throughout the retreat. These are yours to keep. The workbook provides an outline of the retreat and topics covered. Due to varying factors, such as meal times, slight differences in presenter’s length on topics, we are unable to provide exact timing of each presentation. Most presentations, individual reflection and couple reflection time total about 60 to 90 minutes.

This is like asking, “do I have to stay for my entire wedding?” so 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 for the retreat.

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

  • Refrain from the use of alcohol and all non-prescribed medication or drugs.
  • Respect everyone who attends the retreat and keep in mind that this is a Catholic retreat – we ask that you dress and behave appropriately. Please do not wear hats, be modest in your dress, and limit the use of strong perfumes or colognes.
  • Please remember the weekend is presented at a Christian facility and be respectful of your surroundings and retreat staff.
  • 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.
  • Please do not use your cell phone or smart device during any of the group and individual activities, workshops and presentations.
  • If you have any questions or concerns during the retreat a team member will be happy to assist you.

Dress for the entire weekend is casual and yet modest. Please do not wear revealing shorts, skirts, or tops. Please dress comfortably. If you would like to bring a nicer outfit or clothing for Mass please do so.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is a smoke free environment, and due to state law for all of our facilities which prohibit smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes or vapes, smoking is prohibited inside buildings and in other common spaces. If you do smoke, each facility has designated smoking areas outside of the building and common spaces. Please refrain from using e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco or vaping inside the facilities. A CEE representative may approach you to give instructions as to where and when these activities are permitted.

The retreat is packed with many enriching and invaluable activities that leave a limited time for free time. We recognize that planning a wedding can be stressful as it is also filled with many necessary preparations and activities.  The Catholic Engaged Encounter offers a weekend-long retreat away from the hustle and bustle of these preparations and from your normal lives, where you can focus on each other, your relationship, and what marriage means to you as a Sacrament. Couples do however spend the majority of the retreat together and as stated earlier there is not much free time due to the content of the weekend. Couples should plan to start their day a little earlier and work a little later than they typically would on an average weekend at home.

There is limited WiFi and cell phone coverage available at the retreat center. Please limit the use of your SMART device to break times and periods when you are not in session. Remember, this weekend is a time for you to have fun and to focus on each other, your relationship, and what marriage is as Sacrament. You will want to pour yourself into the weekend. You will get much more out of the experience if you are able to disconnect from your life outside of the retreat. To this end we ask that couples refrain from using electronic devices as much as possible (or at all) – including cell phones during the retreat.

The whole purpose of the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend is to interact with and talk with your fiancé about issues you may not have already discussed in a focused supportive environment together. This will allow you both to confirm and validate the things that brought you together through love, and to live out your covenantal promise as a Catholic couple. If your fiancé is not present, you and your fiancé will no be able to complete the program.

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