This recent CANA weekend (2-3 December) is one of the beautiful fruits of World Youth Day – the WYD in the summer of 2023 in Portimão and Lisbon! Following contacts made on the spot, Portuguese couples are discovering CANA and CANA is discovering this new country. What a wonderful promise!


It all started about two years ago when we got in touch with a couple from Lisbon, José and Ana. During Covid, they discovered CANA by taking part in the online meetings organised by the CANA fraternity in England. They were then able to experience the CANA week for themselves, and went on to serve the following year, again in the UK. As they were very motivated to launch CANA in their own country, we put them in touch with those responsible for organising the World Youth Days in Portugal. In September, the WYD organisers encouraged us to contact the network of 60 host families that had been in place during this last summer’s event.

Once the decision had been taken, we started sending out invitations through the network and online. In the end, 16 couples came to join us in Palmela, south of Lisbon, where we were warmly welcomed by a congregation of Ignatian sisters.

For this first weekend, we chose a theme that is essential for married life: “Listening to each other in order to make better choices”. As the weekend started on the Saturday morning, we decided to adapt the classic CANA programme and offer a child-free formula to simplify this first experience.

To help us, we called on our community brothers and sisters who know the language and the country well: Luciano, Hugo and Milena, as well as Mariana, our Portuguese Lusitano sister.

The programme included a lot of flexibility: communication exercises, walking and teaching in the hills, an evening à la carte with different approaches including forgiveness, rotating workshops, couple time… They were all very motivated and attentive!

The day after the weekend, we took the time to discuss with the team how we could move forward. How could we build up a team, consider setting up different programmes for couples: CANA weekend, CANA Welcome, CANA Week…?

But to get CANA off the ground and growing in Portugal, we’ll need to rely on motivated couples who can make themselves available and to whom we can provide the necessary support. And some have already come forward! The presence of our Brazilian and Portuguese brothers and sisters was also a wonderful testimony. In short, a wonderful mission full of promise! Thank you, Lord, for leading us along your path.