In Spain in the 1950's, Spanish priest Fr. Gabriel Calvo developed a series of conferences ending in questions that encouraged husbands and wives to become more open and honest in their relationships. In 1962 he brought together 28 Spanish couples for the first "Encuentro Conjugal" weekend.
In 1967, Spanish couples and priests came to the U.S. and "Marriage Encounter" was presented to the English-speaking world for the first time at Notre Dame University. By January 1969, American couples and priests were conducting weekends.
Leaders in the New York area developed the core WorldWide Marriage Encounter movement under the guidance of Ed and Harriet Garzero and Rev. Charles Gallagher, a Long Island youth retreat master. The New York leadership placed a new emphasis on weekend follow-up and the development of "community" to provide support for living the values learned on the weekend.
Couples who attended these weekends began to encourage friends to experience the weekend as well. Soon new presenting teams and priests were trained, other areas of the country began presenting weekends, and Marriage Encounter as we know it today was born.
Today Marriage Encounter weekends are presented in more than 90 countries and 160 local areas in the United States. There are also versions of the weekend representing many different religious expressions and it is presented in a variety of languages.
The weekend is supported by an army of volunteers, couples who have experienced it and feel so strongly about the positive effect it has had on their relationship that they gladly work to spread the news to others.