August 19, 2022 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Dcn. Tony and Ana Carmona belong to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Todd County. COURTESY OF CARMONA FAMILY

‘The very thing that worked when all else failed’

How Retrouvaille is a lifeline for struggling marriages


An interview with Dcn. Tony Carmona.

Note: Dcn. Tony Carmona and his wife, Ana Carmona, are coordinators of Nashville Retrouvaille, which is a program for married couples experiencing difficulties in their marriage. The Carmonas belong to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Todd County.

WKC:  How long have you been the coordinators for the Nashville Retrouvaille? 

Dcn. Carmona: Our Nashville, Tenn., Retrouvaille community began in January 2009. We have always had great relationship with the Owensboro, Ky., Retrouvaille community leaders. We send couples to them and they to us. During the pandemic both our communities struggled to keep in contact with our couples and struggled to have weekends. In order to reach out to more struggling couples, we have teamed up to serve both the Owensboro and Nashville dioceses. Ana and I did our Retrouvaille Weekend Experience in March 2013 and became active in our community. Three years later we became presenters and were asked to be the coordinators in January 2019.

WKC: What makes Retrouvaille different from other support programs for people whose marriage is experiencing difficulties?

Dcn. Carmona: Retrouvaille is very different than other marriage programs. Some spouses resist the idea of attending the program, out of concern that they will be required to expose their personal lives. None of this is true.  In fact, the program is entirely unique, and most couples find that this is the very thing that worked when all else failed. We are told constantly that this is one of the best-kept secrets in the world, and couples regularly comment that they wish they had done the program long before they did; that it would have saved them so much pain and anguish.

What makes Retrouvaille different is what it is not:

It is NOT a retreat, seminar, social gathering, or religious conversion experience.

It is NOT marriage counseling.

It is NOT a sensitivity group.

It is NOT group counseling.

It is NOT for profit.

In fact, Retrouvaille is a three-phase program:

Phase 1: The Retrouvaille Weekend Experience.

Phase 2: The Post Weekend Sessions – A series of follow-up sessions building on the weekend.

Phase 3: Monthly Support (CORE) – A monthly small-group support meeting, called CORE (Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience). It allows for a casual and supportive interaction with other couples who have attended the Retrouvaille program.

WKC: Why might a couple consider Retrouvaille?

Dcn. Carmona: Couples can consider Retrouvaille if they are struggling, having conflict and disagreements all the time, loss of trust, or anything that is causing dissention in the marriage. As for us, our troubles began while on I was on active duty. During my last five years in the Army, I spent over three years overseas and this was not good for our marriage. A year after my deployment, I retired from the Army. When I retired, my wife and I were still raising our children and somewhere in raising our children we became disconnected. We were doing all the day-to-day work with our family but as a couple we were like two roommates. We knew something was wrong but did not know what it was or how to fix it. My wife found Retrouvaille and we attended the weekend.

WKC: How much does Retrouvaille cost, and are there scholarship opportunities available?

Dcn. Carmona: Cost for the weekend varies on the location. The Nashville, Tenn., Retrouvaille registration cost is $300 for the weekend. This covers lodging, food, and all materials needed for the post sessions. We do ask for a love donation at the end of the weekend. The registration fee is below the cost of what we pay for each couple during the weekend. If a couple cannot pay all the registration fees we try to work with them. Sometimes the team members may pitch in or if we have extra funds may pay half. This is only when the funds are available. There are groups in the Church that can help. For example, my Knights of Columbus council has committed to sponsoring one couple per year. If mor than one couple wants to attend, we split the registration fee and ask the couple to pay the rest. For couples who may have financial issues to pay the registration fee, I always recommend they speak to their priest to see if there is a group that can help.

WKC: After a Retrouvaille weekend ends, how are couples encouraged to continue working on their marriage?

Dcn. Carmona: As I mentioned earlier, after the post session we have a monthly small group support meeting, called CORE (Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience). This is a place where we have fun and continue to work on our marriage. We have made lifelong friends in our meetings.

WKC: Anything else?

Dcn. Carmona: I can’t say that attending the weekend, post sessions, and CORE fixed our marriage right away but I can say that it opened our eyes and gave us the tools to continue to work on our marriage. We learned that we can express ourselves and make our intentions known without being rude; that we can listen effectively without judgment; that our actions and words hurt unknowingly. We also learned that we can change the things within us but we cannot change each other; we can only influence each other.

Our next weekend September 2-4, 2022. You can register at or for more information go to our website

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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