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CARA News Release

CARA Publishes Study on Catholic Engaged Encounter

Washington, D.C.--A year-long study of Catholic Engaged Encounter determined that the nationwide organization continues to do an excellent job in helping prepare couples for marriage. However, in other areas, including differences in makeup and attitudes of today's couples compared with when the program was originally created three decades ago, suggest a need for some updating and modification to help the program achieve its potential today.

Catholic Engaged Encounter Renewal: A CARA Study, conducted by the Center for Advanced Research in the Apostolate (CARA), at Georgetown University, offers these and other conclusions following a four-part, 11-month review of Catholic Engaged Encounter. The study was based on surveys of participants and presenters as well as a review of the Catholic Engaged Encounter format by a panel of distinguished experts.

"Catholic Engaged Encounter is a wonderful program with many great strengths," said Bryan Froehle, Ph.D., research associate at CARA and director of the study. "Our research found that couples who participate benefit greatly from the structured opportunity Catholic Engaged Encounter offers for engaged couples to examine key issues in their relationships. This study recommends a number of ways to further improve an already strong program."

The study's recommendations for improving Catholic Engaged Encounter include:

Allowing greater flexibility in the weekends to suit the particular needs of couples, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Providing more guidance and direction on problem solving skills.

Giving greater attention to dual-career marriages, cohabiting couples, interfaith marriages and second marriages.

Learning more about couples on weekends in order to better craft presentations and discussions to reflect the interests and backgrounds of the couples.

Considering opportunities to follow-up with couples after Encounter weekends.

The study concludes that the most powerful asset of the Encounter is its integration of structured dialogue on important issues in relationships with a strong spiritual dimension. Most participants surveyed believe the weekend provides an opportunity to learn about their fiancee and marriage in general. Many feel that it is also a spiritual experience, that clergy relate well to the engaged and understand the issues couples face today. Most of the engaged say the presentations are applicable to their lives, and they rate the usefulness of their couples discussions especially highly.

Participants identify some of the presentations as less helpful than others, and many would like more flexibility in the format. Almost two-thirds of couples say they would have gotten more out of the weekend if there had been discussion of issues relevant to cohabiting couples. Nearly half of the couples surveyed were living together at the time of their Encounter retreat.

The full, 87-page report may be ordered from CARA for $28.75 and a brief summary of the report is available for $10 (prices include shipping and handling). Contact CARA by phone 202-687-8080 or fax 202-687-8083.

CARA is an independent research organization listed in the Official Catholic Directory. Founded in 1964 and affiliated with Georgetown University since 1989, CARA performs studies on church ministry, management, planning, and personnel, as well as parish surveys and studies for Catholic organizations and associations, dioceses, and religious communities. CARA also publishes the CARA Catholic Ministry Formation Directory and a quarterly newsletter, The CARA Report.

Other Links pertaining to the CARA Study:
CARA Discussion Questions

CARA Study Highlights

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