By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

NEWTOWN – A decade ago, Shawn and Kim Doyle were discussing spanorce when Kim read an advertisement in their church bulletin for Retrouvaille, a Catholic program dedicated to helping couples overcome serious marital difficulties.

They attended a Retrouvaille weekend in Minnesota, where they lived at the time. The Doyles, who celebrated 29 years of marriage last July, are members of St. Andrew Parish in Newtown and serve as the parish’s core contact couple for the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Retrouvaille. They are the parents of three grown children and two grandchildren on the way.

“I believe it was just the grace of God,” Kim said of learning about Retrouvaille.

“We went on the weekend and it pretty much changed our life,” added Shawn. “Our love is deeper than it ever has been.”

The Doyles later served as coordinators of Retrouvaille for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and eventually helped start two chapters in the New York Diocese of Syracuse before moving to the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2007. They also serve on the board of directors of Retrouvaille International.

Retrouvaille – French for “rediscovery” – is a program that works to help heal marriages in crisis by bringing together troubled couples and couples who have overcome serious difficulties.

By Sunday morning of their Retrouvaille weekend, Shawn Doyle felt hopeful. “The weekend was kind of the cold glass of water in the face for me – it was just a realization that we could rebuild this marriage,” he said.

At the height of their crumbling marriage, the Doyles led separate lives. Communication was practically nonexistent as they concentrated on their careers, children and separate interests.

“When there was free time, I would see that as time for me and my interests, and he would do the same,” Kim said. “It’s a common scenario that we see in couples in marriages. It’s very dangerous. It doesn’t start out with any bad intentions, but it just escalates and draws couples further and further apart.”

After years of trying to salvage their marriage – including time spent in counseling – both were about ready to call it quits. “We were quietly miserable,” Kim said.

They married young – he was 21 and she was 22. Through the Retrouvaille weekend and the program’s follow-up sessions, the Doyles learned new ways to communicate feelings and re-learned how to live their marriage sacrament.

“It reminded us of the commitment we made in our Catholic marriage of asking God to be the center of our relationship,” Kim said. “It was such a huge awakening for us.”

Couples who fear their marriage can’t be saved should take heart.

“It’s not a lost cause – you can reconcile,” Shawn said.

“When you’re going through problems in your marriage, it affects so many parts of your life,” he added.

For the Doyles, the rebuilding of what was crumbling truly began “when Kim and I recommitted and said ‘spanorce is no longer an option for us – we will stay together, regardless,'” Shawn said.

“There’s no such thing as a hopeless case,” Kim added.

For more information, call (800) 470-2230 or visit the web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or