Twin Cities Retrouvaille marks 25 years of saving marriages

| Jennifer Janikula for The Catholic Spirit | April 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

rings“Retrouvaille saved my marriage.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many of the 6,700 couples who have participated in Twin Cities Retrouvaille since 1989.

After 25 years, Retrouvaille, which means “rediscovery” in French, continues to provide a path for struggling, separated and divorced couples to reconnect. By the end of their weekend session, couples often begin to see a way out of their rut.

Then, after their six half-day follow-up sessions, couples receive the support they need to pull their relationships back together.

Greg and Carol Langan, members of St. Peter in Mendota, started their Retrouvaille weekend without much hope. Married for 25 years but separated for eight months, they had blown through three different marriage counselors without success.

“We didn’t have much of a marriage, and I wasn’t sure what lay ahead, if anything,” Greg said. “But the weekend program was transformational. I left the weekend with a clear idea of the marriage I wanted and how much work it would take to get there.”

Carol admitted she was amazed by what happened during the weekend — so amazed that she and Greg decided to become leaders in the Retrouvaille community.

“I know God was there,” Carol said. “The Holy Spirit spoke through the presenting couples and the priest. We left there knowing we could make it work.”

Marriage buoy

The strength of the Retrouvaille program lies in the personal testimonies of the three mentor couples and one priest who shepherd the participants through the process. All of the mentor couples have been through the program, and their stories of struggle and success give the couples they mentor hope.

Retired priest Father Bob Hazel serves on the Retrouvaille board and participates in all six of the weekend sessions each year. He describes Retrouvaille as a “buoy in the turbulent waters of marriage.”

Father Hazel said many struggling couples live as married singles and need a way to break out of their indifferent or destructive patterns.

“Retrouvaille is not a magic pill, but it’s a new vision of marriage,” Father Hazel said. “We don’t give them the answers — the personal witness helps couples rediscover the fire beneath the cinders.”

Eye openers

Retrouvaille saved the Stampfle marriage, too. Like the Langans, Pat and Cathy worked with three counselors and were separated before they entered the Retrouvaille program. The program taught the Stampfles how to communicate respectfully without making assumptions about the other’s feelings.

“It was an eye opener — learning how you should be treating your spouse, how your spouse should be treating you,” Cathy said. “Hearing the things the presenting couples had been through made us realize we were not alone. If they could do it, so could we.”

Seven years have passed since the Stampfles finished their Retrouvaille process. The couple, who attend St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, mentor new Retrouvaille couples and serve as the organization’s community coordinators.

Leaders of Twin Cities Retrouvaille invite all current and past Retrouvaille participants to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary on Saturday, April 12 at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie. The event starts at 6:15 p.m. and includes dinner and a performance by comedian John DeBoer. For more information about Retrouvaille and its 25th anniversary celebration, call (800) 470-2230 or visit

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Category: Local News