Marriage retreat rant


Little bit of a rant here guys sorry.

I just got back from my weekend Catholic marriage retreat that my fiance and I had to go through before we got married and to put it mildly, I was very disappointed.

First, the main reason we went there (other than we had to) was because we wanted to get some tips and pointers on raising our future children Catholic and how to do it so they don’t get turned away from it later as an adult… Wow what a disappointment. The problem was that everyone leading the sessions (not lying) were of a Lutheran/Catholic mixed marriage (they called themselves inter-faith marriages) so what my Catholic fiance and I learned about was how to raise our children ‘Catherans’ (the term my fiance and I gave to a Catholic/Lutheran person). We were told that the Church doesn’t say that children have to be a certain faith and that it is better for children to experience a variety of religions early on so they can make the choice on what they are comfortable with when they are ready. We even had one sponsor couple encourage us (both of us are Catholics) to try other Churches (not just Catholic and Lutheran churches but evangelical churches, Mormon ect.) to see what we liked and where our family might be comfortable.

The first thing they said was that this weekend was not about expressing or teaching the Catholic faith, nor was it to get people to convert to the Catholic faith. The Father even stated that if you are Lutheran, the goal is to make you a stronger Lutheran.

One sponsoring couple said that the Lutheran church split in the 1620’s :rolleyes: and that we had nothing to do with it so there was no reason to hold it against each other. He continued saying that it doesn’t matter where you decide to go on Sunday to pray to God. Finally he even said that Catholics are not united and there are just as many differences between a potential Catholic marriage than a Catholic/Lutheran marriage.

The one bright spot was the video that they played on natural family planning, which they then ruined by sending us back to our discussion groups. There at the discussion groups a couple asked what the Church’s stand on vasectomies was. The sponsoring couple shook their head but then went on to say that they did it anyways. They were done with having children so they didn’t see a reason not to get one.

Maybe I am being to judgmental. I am a new Catholic so I don’t know everything and maybe I was the one who was wrong. I put in their suggestion box maybe they should have inter-faith couples go with inter-faith sponsors and Catholic couples with Catholic sponsors so then people interested in raising their kids Catholic don’t have to sit for 12 hours and listen on how to raise their kids Lutheran and respect their Lutheran partner.

I am contemplating writing a letter to the Bishop, but first am I the one who is wrong? Should a Catholic marriage retreat be about the Catholic faith and raising our kids Catholic or about being politically correct and respecting other faiths?

So I know someone is going to ask what we did to help. We tried to speak up when we could but when all the leaders are inter-faith marriages it was hard. We filled out or evaluations of the weekend and gave our suggestions. And now finally I am thinking about writing a letter to the Bishop (only if I wasn’t the one who was in the wrong, which I may very well be).

My rant is now over.



Call your archdiocese! Complain to your Bishop! Complain to your parish for sending you there!

You should NEVER EVER EVER have to listen to that sort of garbage - and that’s what it is. They are not giving you anything to feed your upcoming marriage, they are teaching you how to be a wishy-washy cafeteria Catholic.

You are NOT wrong for saying any of this - you are totally correct in objecting.

Shame on them. I would have walked out.

I’m so very sorry you had to sit through that. Please do not keep quiet about it. This sort of thing must change, and it will only change if people like you don’t just rant on the Internet (which is fine, don’t get me wrong), but tell those who have the ability to make the change.



Ditto to the previous post.


sorry, you do not have to put up with this garbage
complain in writing, with details, names, facts, exactly what was said and done, in what context. these people are toxic and IMO anyone who has been prepared for marriage in this so-called retreat will have ample grounds for annulment down the road on the basis of being woefully ill prepared to consent to all that is required in a Catholic marriage.


I would complain very loudly if I were you. I wish I had complained more when this happened to me!

The marriage prep weekend at my former diocese was similar. It offered no concrete tools for living the sacrament. We watched an NFP video and got no scientific information about NFP. There was no priest in residence during our weekend, only for Mass on the last evening, and all of our “leader” couples were mixed-faith or converts who didn’t seem to know much about Catholicism. (not saying converts don’t know their faith, most know it better than us cradle types IMO, but this one guy did NOT).

We were offered “useful” advice like “make sure someone balances the checkbook” and “if you have a fight, get naked and then you can’t stay mad”. Yay. Thanks.

I’m currently working on an annulment and I complained to my pastor about the lack of care for marriage prep versus the HUGE amount of care taken with marriages that are ENDING. He was totally in agreement and told me many others have noticed the same thing and that the Church is trying to make improvements in marriage prep. I hope so! The prep my parents had was months of intense study and support from a married couple. They got the goods.


Thanks guys.

It is a huge relief that I am not the only one who thinks this was disgusting. The whole time I was thinking in the back of my head, “maybe it’s just me and I am the one who is in the wrong.”

Anyways so I will write this letter to the Bishop, but how do you write a letter to a Bishop? It is not something that I am accustomed to doing every day :stuck_out_tongue:

How do you address a Bishop in a letter? What do I say? Do I leave it anonymous or do I give my name? Is the Bishop the person it should go to or should it go to the priest at the retreat?

Has anyone ever written a letter like this that could help me out? I am a new Catholic, and to say the least, I am uncomfortable in addressing a Bishop of the Catholic Church.

Basically where do I start and what do I do?



When you write, address him either as Bishop so and so, or as “Your Grace”: tell him the whole story and leave no morbid details out.Document as much as possible.
Document as much as possible. This means, use your name; do not be anonymous. Give him your name address and telephone number and beg him to please ask you any questions he may have regarding your letter. Give him names, job titles, etc of all the people who were in charge and who made these rediculous anti-Catholic remarks during this farce of a weekend! Give him as many “hard facts” as you can!
You could do either, address it to the priest or the bishop; however, whomever you adress it to, be sure to send a “carbon copy” to the other and I would also send a copy to the Papal Nuncio.
I once sent a letter to the bishop regarding a priest who was teaching falshood and I got no answer until I had sent yet another; and then all I got was a form letter with a pat non-answer. I got no response at all until we finially went to the Papal Nuncio.
Be ready however, for resistance and for being called the “bad guy” or even (as I was) for being accused of being “too Catholic”. You may (as I did) get blackballed by the priest and have it made known to you that you are no longer welcome at the parish! Do not let any of this stop you from your duty to defend Mother Church from the Demonic onslought that you have witnessed during this weekend.
I and I think all of us here at CA will be offering up prayers and petitions on your behalf and anxiously awaiting word on this issue from you! :thumbsup:
As a wonderful Holy Spiirt Father, Fr. Augustine used to sing,
“We are soldiers, soldiers of the Cross. In the name of Jesus, we shall conquer!” AMEN.


First of all, I sympathize with you on this experience. Engaged Encounters have changed since I had gone, some 17 years ago. Also, I agree with the previous poster’s comments and only add, try to get a refund on the “retreat”.

Third, if you do write to your Bishop, as I think you should, here are a few tips on writing. These tips were given to me about 15 years ago by a priest who empathized with my own situation.

  1. Keep the letter emotion free and judgement free. Don’t add things like, “I feel hurt, or I think this was wrong.” Just the necessary facts. The Bishop gets letters all the time, mostly letters laced with emotion. They usually get tossed. Not that the Bishop doesn’t care for the emotional well being of his flock, but dealing with factual situations are a lot easier than the emotional ones. Tell him what happened, what was said, who said it, and where the setting was. The only emotion you could inject, briefly, is “being confused.”

  2. Write the letter to the Bishop and send copies to several others. Place the “CC” names at the bottom of the letter of those individuals who will receive a copy of the letter. This may sound like extortion, but, if a person receives a letter with names of important individuals on it who have received the same letter, he may be more inclined to take action.

I recommend sending copies to: The Secretariat For Clergy, Office for Worship or the Propagation of the Faith, the head of the order of the priest who attended the retreat, the pastor of the lay people who attended the retreat, the head of the retreat organization, as well as those lay individuals and priest who lead the retreat.

  1. Send all liturature that you received from the retreat to the recipients of the letter. More facts to back up your claim. It may have more weight if you could back it up with proof.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, especially at this point in your life, but it will be worth it when you receive the replies. You may not see the results of your action, but at least you stated the ball rolling.



PS Be prepared to encounter the same thing when you want to baptize your first child. (Not that it is guaranteed to happen, just be prepared) “They” want to educate you on how to be good “Catholic” parents.


How about trying Matthew 18:15-17 before going to the bishop? It hardly seems fair to send letters off to the authorities before expressing your concerns to the local priest first? But then, what do I know, I’m not Catholic…


I understand where you are going with this, but the local priest has no input or “jurisdiction” over what happens at a class sponsored by the diocese. The Bishop needs to know what’s going on.



I think this is a good action; however, I would still go with notifying the Bishop because I can almost assure you nothing will be done without higher notification. Its from past experience.


Those of us who know nothing about writing to a bishop
would be most grateful to you for deciding to do this great
service to us. Heartfelt thanks to you…



Indeed, cc everyone of those folks who conducted the Catholic pre-marriage retreat weekend. You have got to understand, that it is the incumbent responsibility of those facilitating the retreat weekend to know and honor what the Church teaches in matters of faith and morals. There is not place or excuse for personal opinion and weighing in of subjective experience which contradicts what the Church teaches. These pre-marriage couples are required to attend as a requirement of their preparation for marriage in the Catholic Church. There is absolutely no excuse for such a shameful exhibition of disservice. The OP experience sounds more like a retreat to make sure that the couple is versed in a false sense of ecumenicism, confusion and the how’s of being a ‘cafeteria’ Catholic. :frowning:


First, I’m sorry you had to go through this! :frowning:

Secondly, I agree with what the previous posters have suggested.

Thirdly, I would also suggest, in the future, volunteering for these retreats (if you have time). There’s no better way to change something than to get involved if you are able! :slight_smile: My husband and I got involved in RCIA as team members and we are considered the “conservative ones” but the participants come up and thank us and we’ve even had the more “liberal” team members thank us as well.


I think that in the USA, the proper address for a Bishop is “Your Excellency,” rather than “Your Grace.” Apart from that, the above is brilliant.


I agree: take some time to write a letter!

I experienced an Engaged Encounter about one year ago. It was a fantastic experience with a very involved, solidly Catholic priest.

One couple’s story was along the lines of infertility, battling poverty, and healing from sexual abuse. It was amazing to here how even through problem after problem, they stood strong and remained positive with the grace of their Catholic marriage.

The other couple got married very young and had to withstand poverty situations as well, but they soon became what would be called the “typical” suburbia family, with three kids, lots of money, a house with a picket fence, etc. They gave a powerful testimony of how even those going well in their life need to renew themselves in Christ and not take spouses for granted.

We had daily mass, daily confession, prayers it seems every other hour, and of course the guided writing/telling.

I didn’t learn new things, but I did see things I knew applied to real lives and I did have a peaceful, restful time with my fiancee that refreshed our relationship and our faith. Nothing was contrary to Catholicism. Although the final Mass was a little casual, with everyone sitting together in the chapel and the priest in between us.

So I am sorry you didn’t have the same experience we had because it was definitely a bonus to us and our marriage preparation!

P.s. You mention expecting to learn about methods of raising children Catholic. I don’t think that was a realistic expectation. Engaged encounter is more of a venue to open up and discuss personal issues with your fiancee while hearing experienced couples open up over their issues. There was no teacher telling us what to do. You would probably find more help in how to raise Catholic children by attending seminars or reaching out to other Catholic parents.


I attended an engaged encounter weekend with my fiance (now husband :slight_smile: a year ago.

We were also dissappointed in how it seemed like everyone was appologizing for being Catholic.

The topic that frustrated us the most was on birth control and sexuality. We were downright shocked at how the Church’s teachings against contraception were overlooked!

My husband and I had already attended a seperate class on Natural Family Planning - put on by the Couple to Couple League. So we were familiar with NFP (even though we wouldn’t be ‘using’ it until our wedding night :wink:

During the ‘question and answer’ session - one so-called ‘Catholic’ couple (who were shacking up and using contraception) announced that birth control pills were perfectly fine. This went unchallenged! They ‘prevented ovulation’ - therefore - they were acceptable.

My husband and I quickly became the least popular couple of the weekend when we spoke out about contraception. We told her that while the birth control pill does prevent ovulation most of the time - it doesn’t always prevent ovulation - and it has a backup mecahnism to abort your baby if ovulation & fertilization do occur.

One of the ‘leaders’ of the retreat weekend was an OB/GYN! He reluctantly agreed with us. I was so dissapointed that he did not speak out to begin with! Ugh!!!

I decided to take this frustration and put it to good use. I created a website explaining Natural Family Planning. Here is the link…

I would love to hear what you think.

Thank you!
~Kelly “NFP Works”


As a new catholic, I am also sick of all the fake catholics who seem to be in charge of a lot of activities in our church. Complain! We need to get rid of these people.


I appreciate your time and effort in creating this web site; however, I would like to see a web site exposing the “wolves in sheep’s clothings” people within the Church.:frowning:

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