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 Finding Cana retreats with his wife, Dana.  He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and Masters of Education from Stephen F. Austin State University.  As a career 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 is a graduate of Holy Spirit 101, has a history of being a lector at Mass, Eucharistic  Minister and has an extensive background in hosting retreats. 

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.

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

Only if you choose to!  Couples are invited to join in and create a supportive group atmosphere, however we welcome you to participate at your level of comfort.  The emphasis of the retreat is for couples to share with their partner, utilizing the structured format in order to reestablish a loving connection. 

Will the retreat be confidential?

Every attempt is made to respect confidentiality and all participants are encouraged to respect it, however it is impossible to guarantee confidentiality in a group setting.  First names only will be used on name tags.  Confidentiality is maintained by our office regarding your registration information. The only exception to this confidentiality is parish and diocesan requirements for proof of your attendance and participation in order to meet the marriage preparation requirements. Parishes may require proof of your attendance.  If you as a couple find that you experienced higher conflict and recognized more areas of concern than expected you will be encouraged to seek additional preparation to help you remove any obstacles to a valid and sacramental marriage.   

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.

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.

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

Absolutely, as long as the individual respects the Catholic nature of the 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?

Yes, but keep in mind that the number of couples that may attend are limited.  We encourage couples to reserve their spots as early as possible.  No registrations will be accepted on the first day of the retreat.

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 and choose which retreat you want to attend.  Registrations are promptly confirmed within 24 hours via email with both special instructions and directions. 

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?

The cancellation policy is as follows: If you cancel within 7 calendar days of your scheduled retreat, you may transfer your registration to another retreat.  Cancellations of less than 7 calendar days of your scheduled retreat are non-refundable.  Your registration is non-refundable if you do not attend or complete the workshop.  If the presenters cancel the workshop, a full refund will be made.

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

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.

Parish Family Ministry Directors are encouraged to provide follow up gathering times and space for couples who have attended Finding Cana allowing you to continue practicing the skills you learned at the retreat.  We will let you know what parishes have Forever Cana follow up gatherings.  If your parish does not have one and you are not in a position to begin one at your parish you can attend Forever Cana follow ups at other parishes.  

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

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 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

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

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)