Described as “the best kept secret” in the Catholic Church, the Retrouvaille T&T Community, in its Ministry to hurting couples, sought creative ways to offer support during this time of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
Annually, Retrouvaille holds its three-month programme in two phases. Phase one is the weekend experience when couples leave the world behind to focus on their marriage.
Phase two follows with 12 post weekend experience sessions which take place on six Sundays. The third and ongoing phase of the programme is the monthly Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience (CORE) meetings to offer further support to couples.
Unable to have a programme in the last year, the Retrouvaille Ministry held a two-day workshop ‘Keeping and Following Christ in Marriage’ via Zoom on Sunday, May 30 and Sunday, June 6.
The two couple moderators – Phillip and Dayna Abraham, and Andy and Francisca Williams – facilitated participants on a journey through spirituality, communication, conflict management and forgiveness via the four presentations, Q&A sessions, and group sharing.
To start off the two and a half hour sessions from 3 to 5.30 p.m., couples were introduced to the Retrouvaille Ministry by the National Co-ordinating Couple, Robert and Oma Dipchan who described the four stages of Marriage: Romance, Disillusionment, Misery, and Awakening.
The presentations followed and after each, there was couple reflection and open group discussion.
Day 1 began with ‘God’s Intent for Marriage – The Importance of Spirituality in our Marriage Relationship’, presented by Peter and Mary Jardine.
They spoke on marriage as a vocation and covenant; fruitful love and commitment within the Sacrament of Marriage; the ways in which spouses help each other to grow spiritually; and family life, the microcosm of the Church and society. Peter and Mary shared their personal spiritual journey and the positive impact it had on their marriage.
Patrick and Denise Cunningham followed with their presentation on ‘Communication’. They introduced a critical question “Are you hearing me?” along with a quote by Pope Francis, who described communication between husband and wife as “…a way of building communion thereby creating closeness.”
Patrick and Denise broke down what communication is and explained how our different emotional needs affect what we hear. They concluded by offering couples some tips to reduce barriers to communication by using the 4 Ts – Timing, Tone, Technique and Truth.
Following the introductions on Day 2, Alex and Jo-Ann Ragbir began with their presentation on ‘Conflict Management – How are we dealing with challenges?’. They elaborated on four key areas to pay attention to when couples face conflict in their relationship i.e., the need for: time out, clarifying the issue, respectful discussion, and compromise.
During the open discussion segment, couples were asked to identify the conflict situations and describe the ways in which those were being managed during this time of the extended stay-at-home measures. Participants opened up about real issues arising, offering some practical solutions.
The final topic on ‘Forgiveness, Overcoming Self-Talk and Building Trust – Building your Solid Foundation’ was presented by Victor and Marlene Bernard. Couples were then asked to consider how making the decision to Love can improve any one of the following areas in their marriage: communication, attitudes, everyday life, sexuality, or intimacy.
To close, Fr Dexter Brereton CSSp, our coordinating priest, proposed that the Retrouvaille Programme was a pathway to following Christ, reconciliation, healing, and knowing more and more about ourselves. He then led the couples in a wondrous Renewal of Vows.
The very attentive participants left feeling satisfied and empowered after having completed the workshops.
It is the hope of the Retrouvaille T&T Community that following this workshop, couples would be more eager to recommend and experience the programme when it resumes.
We wish to dispel the idea that only hurting couples can benefit from Retrouvaille because no marriage is without the experience of hurt. All couples are welcome regardless of which of the four stages they are in.
The couples who support the ministry experience continual growth in their marriages and by making themselves vulnerable they send the message that “You are not alone!”. —Niall & Trina Casimire
For more information about the Retrouvaille programme, please check the website: www.helpourmarriage.org, call 657-5380 or
These were a few of the comments from some of the 57 couples who attended Day 1.
“…quite edifying and helpful…a great idea” –Michelle
“…good and informative…looking forward to next week…” –Gary
“…awesome…ace presentation…” –Robert
“Wish it was longer” –Jovenia
“Very clear, concise, simple and practical” –Chantal
And from Day 2:
“We feel supported and encouraged by the couples’ sharing and openness” –Essien & Sasha
“Really informative presentations…whatever we do is not for ourselves, but for each other” –David & Charmaine
“…lots of awesomeness.” –Janelle