The History Behind Today’s Marriage Encounter


Marriage Encounter began in 1952 in Barcelona Spain, Fr Gabriel Calvo was struck with two moving experiences that sparked the Marriage Encounter program. On one hand, Fr Calvo had couples coming to him with their problems, conflicts, and tensions with each other and their families. On the other hand, and at about the same time, Calvo came in contact with a group of young couples who deeply impressed him with the evidence of what marriage could be. Their marriages were a picture of mutual trust and conjugal unity, based on a profound spiritual understanding of the meaning of marriage. This is exactly what the other couples were desperately seeking and could not find. Calvo sought the cooperation of these couples in a program of help for those couples who were struggling to make their marriages and family life better. Fr. Calvo makes it very clear in his writings that he did not want the program to have denominational lines.

Therefore, Minnesota Marriage Encounter has always been an inter-faith organization.

In 1966 Calvo and a group of encountered Spanish couples brought Marriage Encounter to the United States. Since then, it has spread rapidly throughout the United States and many other countries. Marriage Encounter has its roots in the Christian church but it serves couples of all faiths. The weekend is God-centered with emphasis on personal and couple spirituality rather than doctrine. Thus began the original concept of Marriage Encounter in the need of a married couple to grow together and in the belief that the future transformation of the world begins at the heart of the family – the couple.

The first Marriage Encounter was held in Minnesota in 1972 and since that time over 24,000 couples have attended a weekend.  December 2011 marked weekend number 1316. Minnesota Marriage Encounter is the largest National Marriage Encounter affiliate in the United States.

With the success and positive impact of Marriage Encounter, a program was developed for couples considering marriage, called Engaged Encounter and November 2011 marked weekend number 441. Engaged Encounter provides an opportunity for couples to explore their relationship together to find ways to make it stronger, fulfilling, joyful and a lifetime commitment.

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