Seminar FAQs

Seminar format
What is the format of the weekend?
Is Celebrate Love the same as Marriage Encounter?
What are the qualifications of the presenters?

Religious aspects
My husband/wife is not Catholic. Is it very religious?
Is the material approved by the Catholic Church?
Will Mass be available?
Is there a non-Catholic version available?


Commitment
My husband/wife is not really interested. Can I come on my own?
My husband/wife is ambivalent. What should I tell him/her?
I’m interested, but my spouse is reluctant. How do I convince him/her?


Attendance
Do we have to attend the whole seminar/weekend?
We can’t stay for the whole weekend. Is it OK if we leave early?
We have an engagement Saturday night. Does it matter if we miss the dinner?
We can’t come for a whole weekend. Is there anything else we can do?
We can’t come on Sunday. Could we just come on Saturday?
My child is making her first communion/confirmation on the Sunday of the seminar.
Could we leave for a few hours and then return in the afternoon?

We can’t make the seminar dates. Is there anything we can do?
Do you have the seminar available on DVD so we can do it at home?


Counselling
Is there any group therapy or counselling?
We’re having trouble and are thinking of separating. Is the seminar suitable for us?
I think we need some counselling. Do you do that as well?


Sacramental aspects
We’re engaged to be married. Can we come?
Do you have anything for engaged couples?
Do you have anything for singles?
We’re living together in a commited relationship, but are not married. Can we do the seminar?


Other logistics
I’m vegetarian/coeliac/other special diet. Will you be able to cater for me?
I am currently breast-feeding. Can I bring my baby with me?
I have children who can’t be left alone and I don’t have any baby sitters. Can you help?
We need accommodation. Where would you recommend we stay?


Miscellaneous
What is included in the price?
We can’t afford the registration fee. Is it possible for us to get assistance?
We’d like to promote Celebrate Love to our friends. What do you recommend?


Resources
Do you have any books and resources?
Do you have a recommended reading list?


Priests & parish leaders
How do I get Celebrate Love in my parish/area?
Do you have any other programmes or resources for parishes?



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Answers


What is the format of the weekend?

The seminar has approximately 15 sessions, each one comprised of some input by one of the presenting couples. There is opportunity for personal reflection using inventories and questionnaires, and time to share privately as a couple. Prayer and liturgies in a variety of styles are use throughout.

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Is Celebrate Love the same as Marriage Encounter?

Marriage Encounter and CelebrateLove are near relatives, but not the same. The founder of World Wide Marriage Encounter, Fr Chuck Gallagher SJ, was also the initiator of the first prototype of CelebrateLove. Marriage Encounter has a long history of over 40 years — over a million of couples world-wide have attended. CelebrateLove has a shorter history (about 16 years) and was developed in Australia.

Both programmes focus on enriching the couple’s marriage and are presented in the context of the Catholic faith by married couples. Both are well regarded and considered to be highly effective by the couples who attend them. The main characteristics of the programmes are:
  • Marriage Encounter is residential, beginning Friday night through Sunday. The weekend offers a series of presentations which aim to improve communication and intimacy between married couples. It covers topics such as expressing feelings, effective listening, personality styles and behaviours and the effect of these on relationships, and communicating in difficult areas. It is usually presented by three married couples and a Catholic Priest.
  • CelebrateLove is non-residential (Sat/Sun only). Through a series of presentations and exercises, the seminar focuses on learning how to love effectively through understanding the different ways men and women approach relationships. The seminar is usually presented by two married couples. CelebrateLove also explores marital spirituality and explicitly draws on the insights of the Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body".
  • Both programs are presented within the context of Catholic theology and address matrimonial sacramentality.
  • Both programs are private experiences — all discussions are only between husband and wife. There is no group sharing in either program.
Further information on each program can be found at www.wwme.org.au and www.celebratelove.com.au.

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What are the qualifications of the presenters?

All presenters are married couples chosen because of their 'relatability' and example. These couples have ordinary jobs and family commitments. They are not paid for presenting. However, they do make considerable sacrifices to undertake the presenter training which usually takes up to two years to complete. Every presenting team is headed by a Facilitator Couple who has several years experience and is responsible for the process of the seminar and the training of newer presenters.

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My husband/wife is not Catholic. Is it very religious?

CelebrateLove is grounded in Catholic theology and draws on the prayers and traditions of the Catholic Church throughout the seminar. Couples are free to participate in these liturgies and prayers in whatever way is comfortable for them. The teaching content of the seminar is universal and couples from many and varied faith traditions have found the exercises and talks to be extremely relatable and helpful. Couples of all faiths are always welcome. When possible, Mass and Reconciliation are offered as part of the seminar experience.

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Is the material approved by the Catholic Church?

The CelebrateLove seminar has been attended by a number of priests and has been scrutinised by Mons Vincent Casey, Vicar General of the Diocese of Broken Bay. Fr Casey is also a psychotherapist and can vouch for both the theological and psychological content of the seminar experience. As CelebrateLove does not receive funding from the Catholic Church our accountability practices are self-imposed.

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Will Mass be available?

On most seminars a priest is available to say Mass and hear Reconciliations. On rare occasions, this is not possible due to parish commitments. On these seminars, arrangements are usually made so the group can attend one of the parish Masses.

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Is there a non-Catholic version available?

No, there isn’t. But the seminar is open to any married couple of any faith. In fact, about 15% of our participants are non-Catholic. Participants are encouraged to engage in the various prayers and liturgies in whatever way is comfortable for them.

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My husband/wife is not really interested. Can I come on my own?

The CelebrateLove seminar is designed as a husband-wife interaction. It is not suitable for half-couples or singles. However, we often run evening talks in the lead up to a seminar and you would be most welcome to attend. Sometimes, a reluctant spouse will come along to a short talk so you might find he/she will accompany you.

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My husband/wife is ambivalent. What should I tell him/her?

We suggest that you get them to browse the website, read some of the testimonies and ask them to try to be specific about their reservations. You might be able to address those reservations from the information on the website or you can give us a call. We strongly discourage you from coercing or manipulating your spouse into going as the seminar process simply doesn’t work unless you are both prepared to participate in the exercises.

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I’m interested, but my spouse is reluctant. How do I convince him/her?

We strongly discourage you from coercing or manipulating your spouse as the seminar process simply doesn’t work unless you are both re prepared to participate in the exercises. Rather, try reading through past SmartLoving issues, available on this website. There are a number of excellent suggestions to improve your marriage even when your spouse is uncooperative. See especially the "It Takes One To Tango" series.

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Do we have to attend the whole seminar/weekend?

CelebrateLove is not a series of unrelated topics but is a process. It has been carefully designed to carry participants through a sequence of deepening challenges and resolution. If you cannot attend the entire seminar, we encourage you to reschedule for one when you can.

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We can’t stay for the whole weekend. Is it OK if we leave early?

CelebrateLove is a process designed to lead couples through a sequence of emotionally and psychologically challenging topics. Couples who leave early risk leaving unresolved issues open. Couples are therefore strongly discouraged from leaving early, and if unavoidable, you should consider transferring to a different seminar.

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We have an engagement Saturday night. Does it matter if we miss the dinner?

The Saturday dinner is an important part of the process of the CelebrateLove seminar. While relaxed and enjoyable it also includes an exercise important for the following day’s activities. Moreover, the dinner provides a buffer for couples who have just completed an intensive day allowing them time to debrief before re-connecting with family and other responsibilities. On some seminars, the dinner activities are transferred to Sunday lunch and couples leave at 7:30pm. However, even on these seminars, couples are encouraged to set aside the time to have dinner together and debrief before returning home.

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We can’t come for a whole weekend. Is there anything else we can do?

Yes there are lots of options. Check the website for evening talks and other events may be available in your area. Also look at the SmartLoving e-news. These are a series of thought-provoking commentaries and many couples find them to be helpful in challenging the way they think about and approach their marriage. And of course, there are many other courses and books available for purchase in Christian and secular bookstores.

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We can’t come on Sunday. Could we just come on Saturday?

Unfortunately, no. CelebrateLove is a two-day process. Issues opened up on the Saturday need to be addressed and brought to resolution. If you can’t attend both days, check the website for dates and venues of other seminars.

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My child is making her first communion/confirmation on the Sunday of the seminar. Could we leave for a few hours and then return in the afternoon?

Your child’s sacramental life is very important. Part of celebrating is not just attending the ceremony at church, but also marking the occasion with an appropriate family gathering. Moreover, CelebrateLove is a two day process in which issues are opened and brought to closure over the course of the two days. Leaving the seminar, even for a few hours, severely diminishes your experience and also undermines the important value of making family life a priority.

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We can’t make the seminar dates. Is there anything we can do?

Make sure you subscribe to the SmartLoving e-news and let us know that you are keen to attend. If there is sufficient demand in an area, we can sometimes schedule an additional seminar. Also, check for evening talks and other events in your area.

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Do you have the seminar available on DVD so we can do it at home?

Unfortunately, not at this time. We have received a number of requests and we hope to begin publishing some the material to DVD in the near future.

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Is there any group therapy or counselling?

No. CelebrateLove is a private experience between husband and wife. All exercises are followed by individual written reflection and couple discussion. There is no counselling and no group therapy. Couples are actually discouraged from socialising with other couples until the evening of the first day. On the second day, there are opportunities for couples to interact if they choose. There is an exercise at the end of the second day where couples are invited to give feedback to other couples.

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We’re having trouble and are thinking of separating. Is the seminar suitable for us?

CelebrateLove is a challenging course designed for couples in stable, loving marriages. However many couples in your situation have attended and they report dramatic and encouraging results. You need to appreciate two important factors:
  • The seminar is self-regulating. That means that you need to be able to independently manage yourselves throughout. Our presenters are not counsellors and while they are more than happy to talk things through with you while the other couples are doing the exercises, they cannot be relied upon to 'rescue' you if you get into an intractable argument.
  • Regardless of how fragile or stable your marriage, the seminar simply does not work unless both spouses are willing to participate in the process. You both need to be fully invested, open and ready to follow through. Nobody will be standing over you, and you can withdraw at any time, so it really is up to you both if you want the seminar to transform your marriage.
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I think we need some counselling. Do you do that as well?

No, we do not provide counselling. We recommend that you contact your local Catholic diocesan office for a referral to a qualified counsellor.

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We’re engaged to be married. Can we come?

CelebrateLove is not suitable for engaged couples, however, our Embrace programme is perfect for you. Embrace is offered as a mentoring course, that is couple-to-couple, or small home-based groups. Visit the Embrace website for more information.

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Do you have anything for engaged couples?

Yes we do! Embrace is a six session course for couples preparing to marry in the Catholic Church. The course is facilitated by a trained married couple (mentors) in their home for one engaged couple or a small group. More information is available at the Embrace website.

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Do you have anything for singles?

Not yet but we’re working on it! Register your interest by sending us an email and we’ll let you know as soon as we have our singles programme ready.

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We’re living together in a committed relationship, but are not married. Can we do the seminar?

CelebrateLove is not suitable for co-habitating couples as it assumes that the couple have made a legally binding, life-long and sacramental commitment. We recommend that you investigate the Embrace course which can be more easily adapted to your situation. More information is available at the Embrace website.

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I’m vegetarian/coeliac/other special diet. Will you be able to cater for me?

Most likely, yes. We routinely cater for people with all sorts of dietary requirements. Please note your special circumstances clearly on the registration form.

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I am currently breast-feeding. Can I bring my baby with me?

Breast-fed babies are welcome to come to the seminar, though if your baby is more than eight months old we recommend that you wait until he/she is weaned before attending. Our team is more than happy to help nurse, hold and play with your baby during the sessions, but as older babies tend to sleep less and can be distracting and disruptive to yourselves and other couples, we ask that you check by phone whether there is sufficient hospitality support before booking.

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I have children who can’t be left alone and I don’t have any baby sitters. Can you help?

Quite possibly we can. Depending on where the seminar is being held, we often have previous CelebrateLove attendees who are willing to help with childcare. Please phone to discuss.

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We need accommodation. Where would you recommend we stay?

Many couples chose to 'make a weekend of it' and stay in a hotel when they attend the seminar. This is a great idea especially if you have children at home. We recommend that you chose something simple, as the seminar will start promptly at 9am each morning and couples who book into an expensive hotel can feel cheated when they need to leave early.

When you register, a confirmation letter will be sent to you. Usually local motels are listed, or you can phone the contact couple for suggestions. If you are travelling from another area and finances are tight, we can sometimes offer billeting in the home of one of our CelebrateLove couples.

Please contact us for further information.

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What is included in the price?

The registration fee includes your materials (70 page high quality, full colour couple pack, pens etc.) refreshments and food throughout the seminar. A newsletter (Living Love) subscription is also included. The registration fee also covers other expenses incurred by the team such as venue hire and transport. Some seminars include dinner on the Saturday, in which case, participants are asked to bring a bottle of wine. Your registration letter will confirm the details for you.

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We can’t afford the registration fee. Is it possible for us to get assistance?

Yes, we offer a number of different payment options. You can pay by instalments or, in cases of financial hardship, you can apply for a fee reduction. Please contact us to discuss a payment option suitable for you.

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We’d like to promote Celebrate Love to our friends. What do you recommend?

Download the email flyer to send to them, or forward them the SmartLoving e-newsheet. Offer to babysit their children or give a gift voucher for their anniversary.
 •  Get a gift voucher here
 •  Get a babysitting voucher here

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Do you have any books and resources?

We have a number of printed and digital media resources available for couples, individuals and parishes. Visit LivingWellMedia for more information.

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Do you have a recommended reading list?

As the CelebrateLove seminar is written around Johh Paul II's Theology Of The Body, LivingWellMedia offers a number of books and DVD/CD presentations by acclaimed authors, such as Fr Percy and Christopher West.

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How do I get Celebrate Love in my parish/area?

The best way is to identify a couple in your parish and send them to experience the seminar. If possible, choose a couple that is relatable and self-motivated. That couple can then become the foundation for your parish or a Host Couple. For further information and suggestions, email PMRC, visit their web site or contact us.

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Do you have any other programmes or resources for parishes?

Yes! We have a number of programmes and resources for the engaged, youth, faith groups and families. For further information and suggestions, email PMRC, visit their web site or contact us.

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