Our Works & Community

Retrouvaille program

This organisation is not a service of the Archdiocese of Sydney. Please direct any query to the organisation directly.

Description The Retrouvaille program is designed to help people whose marriages have encountered difficulties even to the stage of separation and/or pending divorce. Research has shown that most couples who reach this stage or situation are basically because they have lost the ability to effectively communicate with each other. So this is the focus of the program, effective communication through feelings using a unique method of “Dialogue”. It concentrates on understanding each others feelings before tackling the more difficult issues of conflict resolution.

The program was foundered in 1977 in Quebec Canada, hence the French name. It was developed from a need for those couples who were attending “Marriage Encounter” weekends that were not receiving appropriate help to their much deeper problems. So it is similar in format to Marriage Encounter. It quickly spread to Toronto where it was translated to English and from there rapidly spread throughout the United States. The program came to Australia and New Zealand in 1992 when Fr John Mc Carthey (Melbourne) brought it back from a study tour of the US. To get the program established the International Coordinators for the program came to Australia to help set it up. The program came to Sydney the following year where we were part of the first program. We had had a breakdown in our marriage some years earlier and had struggled to get it back together with not much success so we welcomed the program. The program has since been established in Canberra, Perth and Brisbane.

The program consists of a live in weekend, followed by six half-day follow up sessions every fortnight. So the program effectively goes for 13 weeks. This is then supported by group sessions every month called CORE (Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience), which is ongoing. Each session consists of several talks given by a married couples and a Catholic priest. Each presenting couple has been through the program hence knows and understands the pain of the participating couples.

The program is Catholic in origin and based on Christian values but we offer it to couples of all faiths. We operate from funds donated exclusively from participants. We have no other source of income hence any help we can get to offset costs of advertising etc. makes it that much easier to service the couples in need. The program in the past has been almost exclusively been advertised through Parish and school newsletters, and although we get many enquiries (in the hundreds) our participation rate at present is around 15 couples per program. This is the nature of the hurt but we are sure there is a wider need in the community than those we are at present reaching.

Our program dates for year 2004 are commencing 26-28 March, and 6-8 August.
Address 35a Wollongong St,  Shellharbour 2529
Telephone 4295 6860
Fax 4295 6861 Other   9520 1496 - Sydney
Contact Pat and Barbara Tilden, Coordinators – Sydney Community
Email pattilden@optusnet.com.au
Website http://www.retrouvaille.org