Catholic Engaged Encounter celebrates its international Golden Jubilee

In the most recent edition of the ARCHDIOCESAN NEWS, our quarterly Archdiocesan tabloid, Engaged Encounter and Marriage Encounter feature quite prominently. Be sure to read more on this on page 12, as well as a variety of interesting articles and reflections on other pages.

In 1968, Marriage Encounter (ME) couples began developing a programme for the preparation of couples to the vocation of matrimony, and by 1974 ME grew into its own autonomous movement. It has since spread to numerous countries, including South Africa in March 1981. In 2024 the Engaged Encounter communities, who present 20 or so weekends per year reaching up to 400 couples, will be marking the golden jubilee of this church-recognised marriage preparation programme. On the weekend of 23-25 February three weekends took place, run by the Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town communities.

The first weekend in Cape Town took place in 1992, and Deacon Phillip Prince and his wife Patsy were among the stalwarts who kept the programme going for many of the 30 plus years in the Archdiocese. For weekends to be run, it depends on the efforts of a handful of committed and self-sacrificing couples, who bravely share their personal stories. At present only three couples and one priest are available locally to present the four Cape Town weekends a year. We are looking for volunteers to assist, as we would love to double the number of weekends per year. For that to happen we need to double the number of presenting couples. On our previous weekend, engaged couples came from as far as Nababeep and PE (Qheberha) just for the weekend.
The evaluation of the programme by the participants is always overwhelmingly positive, and it is a pity that more engaged couples don’t have the opportunity of attending this very intense and comprehensive retreat-like experience.

Some comments from the latest weekends:
“This is the most amazing personal development session I have ever encountered in my entire life. ‘…’ it is a great way to start conversations that engaged couples should be having. All the topics discussed provided lots of real-life experiences that were very helpful.”
“It’s a tremendous amount of wisdom that dispels a lot of myths of marriage. It takes marriage back to its roots and removes all the marketing and Hollywood that is dominating the viewpoint of marriage. It gives you a grounding and a realistic view of what marriage is and what it takes to make it work.”
“The real-life examples from couples and the stresses they went though and how they pushed through them. It made me realize that difficulties in marriages are not signs to exit the marriage. They are just growing pains.”
And to the question ‘Did anything on the weekend affect your relationship with God and/or the Church?’: “The weekend actually brought me much closer to God, and we intend to make him the foundation of our relationship. The weekend also boosted my confidence in the church that has always guided us through good morals and values.”
“Yes, we realize that we need to be more involved and do more for the church and community.”
“This reinforced our desire to get back onto our spiritual journey.”

Watch this space for a notice about a general get together of past participants later this year to celebrate the Golden Jubilee.

Fr Francois Dufour SDB

Posted in Archdiocesan News.