A priest who presented on his first Retrouvaille weekend recently was moved to write this letter to his parishioners about the program:
Dear Friends in Christ,
Last weekend I was away helping on my first Retrouvaille weekend. Using a pattern and approach similar to Marriage Encounter, RetrouvaiIle is a program for couples whose marriages are in trouble. I was asked [in the] spring if I would consider getting involved with RetrouvailIe, and through the summer I worked on my talks. Fortunately I was ready for October!
Retrouvaille is more than a weekend. For a troubled couple the program starts with a rather intense time of self-discovery and learning to listen to one another; it continues with 6 to 12 post-weekend sessions over the following three months. There are also monthly support group meetings on an ongoing basis.
The Retrouvaille program is authentically Canadian. lt started in Quebec about 30 years ago - hence the French name, which is from the verb retrouver, to find again or to rediscover. The movement very quickly spread to the U.S. (where it seems to be strongest) and has now become international with communities on five continents. That is a testimony to both the effectiveness of the program and to the need for a program like this to help couples in troubled or broken marriages.
Couples headed for cold, unloving relationships or divorce have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending the program. I met some of those couples as they prepared for and cleaned up after the weekend; it was evident that their marriages are now healthy. As they spoke of their experience of Retrouvaille the word that came to my mind was "healing." For many couples, Retrouvaille has been a healing experience.
However, Retrouvaille alone is not enough for everyone - things like counseling, support groups (e.g. AA), the sacrament of reconciliation, etc. are also part of the healing journey.
Last weekend we had couples from different faith communities and at different stages in their marriage breakdown (from wondering if they had a problem to near despair). lt seemed to me that all of them found some help and saw some hope. I pray that the post-encounter sessions will continue and deepen what began on the weekend.
I look forward to continuing my involvement in this healing ministry, and I invite you to pray for the Retrouvaille community and the couples who seek their help.
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