Marriage Encounter traces its roots to Spain. In working with young people in the parish, the Diocesan Laborer priest Gabriel Calvo realized how important it is for the growth and upbringing of children for parents to live in harmony. He designed an instrument that would facilitate and deepen dialogue between the husband and wife to strengthen the "I will" that they bear in their hearts. This was presented as a weekend retreat in Spain in 1962. In 1967, the experience reached the United States of America through the Christian Family Movement. In the New York area, the "marriage encounter weekends" were standardized and enriched by a number of married couples and the Jesuit priest Fr. Chuck Gallagher. Soon these weekends were being presented in the ten most Catholic cities in the United States. The New York branch of the movement became known as Worldwide Marriage Encounter after the international expansion began in 1972.
The movement exists to help married couples live their relationship intimately and responsibly; to understand and better their role within the Church. The foundational experience is the Worldwide Marriage Encounter retreat animated by the testimony of three married couples and a priest who deal with various aspects of daily living. Participants learn to communicate at a deeper level using the technique of dialogue. Priests and religious who wish to authentically live their own vocation may also participate. There is community support to continue the dialoguing lifestyle and to provide further formation. The movement fosters the integration of married couples and families into the parishes, encourages them to use their sacramental love for service in the Church and in the world.
WWME is governed at every level (local, diocesan, regional, national) by Ecclesial Teams made up of a priest and a married couple. At the worldwide level, the movement is coordinated by the International Ecclesial Team, assisted by six Ecclesial Teams who represent the existing Secretariats for Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter is present in 90 countries as follows: Africa (15), Asia (13), Europe (26), North America (12), Pacific (4), and Latin America (20).
Monthly or quarterly publications at the national level.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter Office
2210 East Highland Avenue #110
San Bernardino, CA92404