What is a Finding Cana Retreat?

Finding Cana is an experiential pre-cana retreat designed to bring engaged couples to a deeper level of intimacy through faithful understanding of what it means to enter and live a valid and sacramental marriage.  Throughout the two-day retreat the engaged couples grow closer to each other and God.  They increase their understanding of marriage by learning to give of themselves, how to communicate in a way that deepens their bond, and how living what God calls them to in marriage opens their relationship and future family to the Graces of the Sacrament.      

Who are Dana & David Nygaard?


Dana Nygaard is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Plano, Texas along with offering tele-counseling to those not in her area.  She received a Bachelor of Secondary Education from the University of North Texas and her Master of Art in Counseling from Dallas Baptist University.  She is a professional member of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association and proudly serves the Diocese of Dallas as a Marriage Readiness Assessor.

Dana Nygaard's approach to couples retreats is unique in that it balances proven psychotherapy techniques with authentic Catholic spirituality. The result is that her retreatants often experience a deeper level of emotional intimacy with their spouse, receive relational healing and feel hope. 

David Nygaard enjoys facilitating Cana Marriage Retreats with his wife, Dana.  He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and Master of Education from Stephen F. Austin State University.  As a retired probation officer and former volunteer of 11 years with the American Red Cross Disaster Services, David Nygaard, exemplifies what it means to have a servant's heart.  He facilitates the break out session, "Happy Wife, Happy Life" for the men on retreat.  Mr. Nygaard has a history of being a lector at Mass, Eucharistic Minister and has an extensive background in hosting retreats. 

The Nygaard's are graduates of Holy Spirit 101 and teach Catholic marriage theology to the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program of the Diocese of Dallas.

What should we expect?

Beginning Saturday morning, you and your fiance will be in a room with other retreat couples where you will be taken through a variety of activities from engaging lectures on various aspects of Catholic teaching on marriage and relationships, personal reflections, written exercises, and demonstrations. Afterwards, you and your fiance will have the opportunity to practice what you have just learned with each other in a private conversation discussing important topics that will prepare you for a healthy, happy, holy marriage. 

Finding Cana is not group therapy and your privacy will be respected. When done, the group reassembles, with the chance to comment upon their shared experience. After the group sharing, the next topic will be presented.  Learning a new concept, practicing it with your spouse, and gaining insight from your fellow retreatants is the format of the weekend.  While couples are free to share and ask questions, no one is obligated to self-disclose, if they prefer otherwise.  The couples retreat is in-depth, practical, authentically Catholic and up-lifting.  Finding Cana is a life-long journey towards greater connection, deepening love, and holy faithful marriage. 

If you could be a fly on the wall, you would see . . .

On the first morning: a room full of faces – some eager, some solemn, a bit apprehensive from anticipation of the unknown.  You will see those who dragged their fiance and those who are dragged-along because the Church requires you attend marriage preparation; and you will see couples who mutually view the marriage preparation weekend as an exciting step towards a happy, holy married life.

By Sunday night, you will see . .

Engaged couples who are happy, smiling, demonstrating their affection for one another, and feeling hopeful for the coming Covenantal and Sacramental marriage they are seeking. At the close of the retreat, they are open, hopeful, committed, grateful, enlightened, encouraged, and understanding. There are sly smiles, wide grins, happy tears, tender embraces, and hopeful eyes.

Who should attend the retreat?

Any couple may benefit from this retreat if:

  • You are engaged and preparing for marriage in the Catholic Church and need a retreat that fulfills the marriage preparation requirements of your parish and diocese.

  • You are in a loving and strong relationship, and aspire to make it even better in hopes of determining if you are ready for a sacramental marriage.

  • You are in a challenging relationship and yearn for spiritual renewal as well as skill development to help you build your relationship for a sacramental marriage.

What topics will be covered at the retreat?

  • Sacrament of  marriage

  • Natural Family Planning overview and purpose

  • Family of Origin and its effects on your pending marriage

  • Marriage Expectations

  • Roles and Responsibilities

  • Friends and Leisure

  • Sexuality and Intimacy

  • Finances

  • Parenting

  • Faith and Spirituality

  • Communication and Conflict Resolution

  • Partner Style and Habits

  • Goals in Marriage

Will we be expected to speak in front of the group?

Only if you choose to!  Finding Cana is not group therapy and your privacy will be respected.  Couples are invited to join in and create a supportive group atmosphere, however we welcome you to participate at your level of comfort.  You will have the chance to comment upon your shared experience, during the optional group sharing.  The emphasis of the retreat is for couples to share with their partner, utilizing the structured format in order to reestablish a loving connection. 

Can we attend if one or both of us are not Catholic?

Absolutely, with the understanding that this is a Catholic retreat.

What if my fiancee is reluctant to attend?

Marriage preparation as a requirement may cause one of you to be resistant. It is quite common that one partner is initially less enthusiastic than the other.  However, our experience is that the least excited partner often becomes more enthusiastic than their partner when they grasp their needs might actually get met.  Finding Cana will equip you  to have a happy, healthy, holy married life.

Can just one partner attend the couples workshop?

No, because the very essence of the workshop is to increase positive interactions and a deepening understanding between two partners. Both partners must attend and commit to staying for the entire retreat.

Are last minute registrations accepted?

We encourage couples to reserve their spots as early as possible.  Each parish/diocese sets their own registration deadline. 

What is the cost of the retreat?

Each parish or diocese sets the cost of the retreat.  

How do we register to attend a retreat?

Click here to join the mailing list to be alerted when Finding Cana retreats are scheduled.  

What if there is no retreat scheduled near us?

Ask your parish or diocese to host a Finding Cana retreat near you!  

What if we have to cancel?

Contact the parish where your retreat will be held to discuss their cancellation policy.  

DO YOU OFFER THE RETREAT IN languages other than english?

The materials for Finding Cana are being translated into Spanish and the retreat will soon be available in a Spanish format.   Please submit what other language you may be interested in having the retreat translated.  

What kind of follow-up is available after the retreat?

We highly encourage all couples to attend a Forever Cana retreat for continued marriage enrichment.  A Forever Cana retreat is where couples grow in intimacy through proven communication techniques, identifying areas of potential growth, building on strengths, deepening their love and exploring solid Catholic marriage theology.  Forever Cana builds upon your knowledge base from Finding Cana.  

Your facilitator offers a variety of options for couples who would like to receive more personalized guidance: Couples may attend counseling at her private practice in Plano, Texas.  Those who live in a different geographic area may opt for a tele-counseling. 

What are the benefits of attending the retreat?

You will be given the opportunity to:

  • Grow and nurture powerful and innovative communication skills

  • Share, with your future spouse, your emotional history to discover how your past influences your relationship today  as well as how you want your relationship to be throughout your marriage

  • Understand the hidden reasons why you chose one another and how that impacts your power-struggles and your future marriage relationship

  • Co-create a purposeful vision for your future marriage relationship

  • Find a solution for differing opinions with kindness and charity

  • Learn how to hold onto the ardor and affection that initially attracted you to each other

  • Discover the depth of the marriage theology of the Catholic Church

  • Uncover a passageway to emotional healing and spiritual growth within your relationship

Is food provided?

A light continental breakfast and catered lunch is provided along with snacks and beverages.  If you have special dietary needs, please alert us and feel free to bring whatever you need.

How should we dress?

Dress is casual, comfortable and we suggest wearing layers in case of varying room temperatures. 

What do we need to bring?

Bring a willing attitude and open heart.  Feel free to bring pillows or anything else you need for your comfort.

What is the retreat schedule?

Finding Cana is a non-residential retreat, which allows you the freedom to sleep in the comfort of your own home or at a local hotel of your choosing.  Lunch is 1 hour and there are breaks scheduled throughout the retreat.  Please plan to attend the entire weekend, as each section of the workshop builds upon the preceding section, thus arriving on time and being present for each part of the retreat is vital. 

8:30 am -6:00 pm (includes vigil mass at 5:00 pm)

8:00 am - 5:00 pm (includes optional break out sessions from 8:00-9:00 am)

*  This is a general retreat schedule, but will vary depending on which specific retreat you plan on attending.  Please refer to the registration page to determine which retreat location you would like to attend.