Congratulations on your engagement, and welcome to the Catholic Engaged Encounter of the Lower Hudson Valley Community! Our community has been serving the New York / Connecticut / New Jersey tri-state area since 1975. Most of the couples that attend our weekends live in the tri-state area, but we warmly welcome any engaged Catholic couple that needs to complete a marriage preparation program.

Our Community

Our community currently hosts three weekends per year, and has four team couples that volunteer their time to share the gift of marriage with engaged couples. We are also very blessed and thankful to have a priest that serves our program. Our weekends are typically held at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, NY. Retreat Center information is available at http://www.mtalvernia.org/


FOCCUS is not part of the Catholic Engaged Encounter program. The FOCCUS survey should be completed and the results thereof should be discussed with your priest / diocese and representative before you attend the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend.

Yes, Catholic Engaged Encounter is designed as a retreat for couples planning to be married in the Catholic Church.  The retreat is a great compliment to pre-marriage inventories. You do not have to take a Pre-cana class if you attend a CEE weekend.  An important gift of the weekend-long retreat to engaged couples is an experience of the presenting couples as a living model. Content is presented with a minimum of teaching and a maximum of shared lived experiences of the concepts being discussed. The retreat emphasizes the message that Christian marriage is an ongoing relationship that needs and deserves constant attention and commitment.

Your priest always has the final say on what he will accept for your marriage preparation. Please check with the priest who will officiate at your wedding before registering. At the conclusion of the weekend, you will receive a certificate to give to your priest verifying your participation.

We recommend the using the “earlier the better” policy. Many parishes require you to start marriage prep at least 6 months in advance. As soon as you are engaged, or even considering engagement, it is the right time to attend a retreat. By attending early, you can discover areas of growth necessary in your relationship, determine if engagement and marriage is right for you and avoid the last-minute hassles of attending a retreat while trying to do everything else your wedding day entails.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is designed to provide couples getting married the tools needed for a successful marriage. The retreat is open to any engaged couple wanting to prepare for a deeper, more meaningful life together in a marriage recognized by the Catholic Church according to its Church law.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is beneficial and supportive to interfaith couples.

Weekends are $435 per couple.

The retreat is not group therapy, instead, it provides private one-on-one time for the couple to learn about each other and marriage based on 5 major themes: The Family we Grew Up In, Sacramental Marriage, Communications, Intimacy – more than just sex, and Values. Couples learn about these 5 major themes through a series of presentations given by married couples. After each presentation, both fiances are given time to individually reflect and write on the topic covered. Couples then are given time to privately reflect as a couple. Couples are never required to share with the group.

We suggest you bring the following items with you:

  • Wear comfortable casual clothing;
  • Bring a snack to place on the shared snack table which will be available in the conference room (water, tea, and coffee will be provided);
  • A six pack of your favorite soda, energy or sports drink;
  • Any snack or drink items for your own personal consumption

Weekends start Friday at 8:00 PM. Plan to arrive between 7:00 – 7:15 PM Friday evening to allow time to locate your room and settle in before first session.

No, dinner will not be served on Friday. We will have cold cut sandwiches available when you arrive on Friday, in case you have not had a chance to have dinner beforehand. On Saturday, three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) will be served. On Sunday, two meals (breakfast and lunch) will be served.

Weekends end Sunday with a closing Mass and finish around 3PM

Each couple will receive two workbooks to use throughout the retreat. These are yours to keep. The workbook provides an outline of the retreat and topics covered. Due to varying factors, such as meal times, slight differences in presenter’s length on topics, we are unable to provide exact timing of each presentation. Most presentations, individual reflection and couple reflection time total about 60-90 minutes.

YES, it is very important that you stay for the entire retreat. If you arrive late or leave early, you will miss important parts of the retreat experience, and we will not be able to give you your certificate of completion of the retreat.

Yes, we do ask that you observe a few basic rules.

  • Please refrain from the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Please respect this is a Catholic retreat – we ask that you dress appropriately. Gentlemen, please no hats.
  • Please remember the weekend is presented at a Catholic facility and be respectful of your surroundings.
  • No pets are allowed at the retreat center
  • Each person will have a roommate of the same sex during the weekend.  (While EE recognizes that couples may already be living together, you will not be permitted to share a room with your fiance on the weekend.)  Everyone is expected to sleep in the room to which they are assigned.
  • Please do not leave the weekend for any reason, unless an emergency arises. If you need to leave, please speak to one of the team members.

Dress for the entire weekend is casual. Please dress comfortably. We will attend Mass during the weekend, however casual attire is acceptable.

Catholic Engaged Encounter is a smoke free environment, and due to state law all of our facilities prohibit smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes. If you do smoke, each facility has designated smoking areas outside of the building. Additionally, as a sign of respect, we ask that you please refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping inside the facilities as well.

Planning a wedding can be a fun and exciting time. It can also be stressful. Catholic Engaged Encounter offers a weekend-long retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, where you can focus on each other, your relationship, and what it means to become a sacrament. While couples spend the majority of the retreat together – there is not much free time. Couples should plan to start their day a little earlier and work a little later than they typically would on an average weekend at home.

Catholic Engaged Encounter offers a weekend-long retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, where you can focus on each other, your relationship, and what it means to become a sacrament. As such we ask that couples refrain from using electronic devices as much as possible – including cell phones.

No, the purpose of the Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend is to interact with and talk with your fiance or fiancee about issues you may not have already discussed. If your fiance or fiancee is not present, you will be unable to complete the program.

Additional Catholic Engaged Encounter weekends are held in nearby dioceses. Check other CEE communities for additional locations and dates on the national website ( http://www.engagedencounter.org ).

Once a weekend is full, a waiting list is generated in date-order of requests received. If there are cancellations on the full weekend, slots will be filled in the order of requests received. Contact the Reservation Couple at 845-298-4772 with any questions.

It is an online version of our traditional face-to-face weekend which includes a lively process of listening, interaction with presenters, writing and discussion time with your fiance. At a traditional weekend, you would be unavailable to the outside world so it is very important to capture the same peaceful feeling at home that you would have at the retreat center. Our Virtual Retreat runs approximately 21 hours over 2 days, including a prayer service and Mass. There will also be a brief tech session on Friday nigh to address any potential technical issues prior to the weekend. For further information, contact our Reservation Couple at 845-298-4772. To register for a virtual retreat, please see the dates below.

Reservation Policies

Payment for the overnight weekend covers lodging on Friday and Saturday nights, meals on Saturday (3) and Sunday (2), and all materials. Dinner is not provided Friday night. Separate overnight accommodations are provided for you and your fiancée. Your reservation is not booked until you pay in full, so to secure your seats please pay as soon as possible. Credit card processing through Paypal is the fastest form of payment accepted, and can be used even if you don’t have a Paypal account!

If you wish to pay by check, please select your weekend and register by completing the application and print a copy. Mail the completed application and your check (payable to CEELHV Inc.) to: Engaged Encounter c/o Vinny & Angela Calderella, 75 C Independence Court, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598. You will not be placed on the weekend reservation list until your check is received.

Scholarships are available. If you need assistance call our Reservation Couple @ 845-298-4772 to begin the scholarship process. No couple will ever be turned away because of lack of funds.

If your reservation is not paid in full at least 2 weeks before the start date of the weekend, it will automatically be cancelled. All cancellations earlier than 2 weeks before your scheduled weekend will incur a $50.00 administrative processing fee (unless you wish to reschedule to a later weekend). If you cancel less than 2 weeks before your scheduled weekend, we are unable to issue any refund due to the policy restrictions at the retreat house. (Contact the Reservation Couple @ 845-298-4772 for these requests).

You agree that by registering and submitting payment that you release Catholic Engaged Encounter of the Lower Hudson Valley, along with it’s agents, associates, volunteers and employees, from any and all liability associated in any way with your attendance at the weekend program.

You consent to interview(s), photography, audio recording, video recording and its/their release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for news, web casts, promotional purposes, telecasts, advertising, inclusion on websites, social media, or any other purpose by CEE and its affiliates and representatives. Images, photos and/or videos may be used to promote similar CEE events in the future, highlight the event and exhibit the capabilities of CEE. You release CEE, its officers and volunteers, and each and all persons involved from any liability connected with the taking, recording, digitizing, or publication and use of interviews, photographs, computer images, video and/or or sound recordings.

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Virtual Retreat

  • Mar 20, 2021 - Mar 21, 202119 spaces left

Mt. Alvernia Retreat Center - 2021

  • Jun 25, 2021 - Jun 27, 202120 spaces left
  • Nov 12, 2021 - Nov 14, 202120 spaces left


Catholic Engaged Encounter presented us with an opportunity to not only delve deeper into our relationship with each other, but also to talk about how to make sure we keep God at the center of the relationship. Spending the weekend out of town gave us time to discuss important topics removed from our daily surroundings and distractions. We came out of the weekend feeling more excited than we already were to get married!
Jennifer and Tejus (September 2019 weekend)
It was a beautiful weekend and it really gave us an opportunity to grow closer to each other and grow deeper in our relationship. There were several questions that led to discussions which genuinely helped to improve our relationship. It really opened up our eyes to the beauty and sanctity of marriage, and we felt so much love from the team during the whole weekend.
John and Jacienta (November 2018 weekend)
We attended a Catholic Engaged Encounter marriage preparation retreat at Mt. Alvernia in Wappingers Falls last year. We were encouraged to explore our relationship in depth. Express our feelings towards each other, and used what we learned to carry with us in our everyday lives as a married couple. We spoke with and met many wonderful couples while at the retreat.

The coaches were amazing, sharing with us their personal experiences in their own marriages. Making positive decisions out of situations that they experienced, and being able to overcome those situations. Our stay at the retreat was very accommodating. The meals were very nutritious. We followed an organized schedule which ran smoothly. Everyone was caring, loving, and very encouraging. A great environment.

We are very grateful, and fortunate to have participated in such an amazing retreat. We encourage other couples to do the same. It was a beautiful experience for both Franz and myself. One we will never forget.
Franz and Rachael (April 2018 weekend)
Our CEE weekend was a valuable retreat to reflect on our relationship heading into our marriage. We enjoyed it and took a lot from it.
Dan and Justine (January 2018 weekend)

Volunteer for CEE

Our community is always looking for charitable people who have attended the weekend to donate their time to our ministry. We often reach out to ask for prayers for the engaged couples that attend our weekend. The couple will receive a personal note card with the name(s) of those praying for them. This ministry can be fulfilled from the comfort of your own home!

If you have a strong call to serve our community, you and your spouse may be interested in serving as a team couple. Serving as a team couple involves writing talks on topics using your personal marital experience. To serve as a team couple, you and your spouse must be a couple in good standing with the Catholic Church.

If you would like to be a face in our community, but aren’t called to be a team couple you may be interested in serving as a host couple. Host couples arrive before the weekend starts to help engaged couples to their rooms at the retreat center. This commitment involves an hour or two of your time, but serves as a warm welcome to the engaged couples we serve.

You might also be interested in serving as a transportation couple. About 40% of couples who attend our Engaged Encounter weekends are from the Manhattan area or one of the other NYC boroughs. For them, getting to the weekend is easiest by train. We offer hospitality to these couples by picking them up at the local train station.

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