Does your parish have a divorce healing support group? Maybe it’s time.
Years ago when I had just moved to a new area, I offered to help start a ministry but the pastor flatly told me, “We don’t have any divorced people in our parish.” WHAT? I was dumbfounded. I thought, Father, God love you, but yes, you DO! I’ve long ago learned that when a door shuts in your face you shake the dust off your feet and let God lead you to another place.
This memory makes me deeply thankful for the pastor who, decades ago now, did let me start a group. He was an adult child of divorce and knew the pain that radiated through the whole family. Back then, all I had was the Protestant DivorceCare video program on VHS tapes; despite some non-Catholic content, it was beautifully produced, Christ-centered, and powerfully healing. Father gave me permission to use it, and for the next ten years, I led weekly groups.
I made a lot of mistakes but learned so much in the process. Thankfully, I had connections with the Betty Ford recovery center in our area and was able to use their models for confidentiality and group etiquette. This ministry is not bible study… people come to pour out their pain and often the deep, dark secrets they have never shared with anyone else. They need a place free of judgment, performance, and criticism. They need qualified facilitators.
They also need the fullness of the truth. I learned that not all people want to be cheered up as much as to find someone who understands the depth of their misery and fear; that people need you to be honest. That our Church teachings, as rigid as they may seem, are the way to the fullest healing and the genuine “abundant life!” And, most importantly, that who they had always longed for was Christ himself.
I began to write books on the subject and for years I prayed that Our Lord would come up with a CATHOLIC video program. I waited and waited until the day I knew I was to do it myself. So, armed with experience and the beautiful model given to us by our brother Protestants, I called upon the best-of-the best, and away we went!
Dr. Ray Guarendi – Catholic psychologist and father of ten (radio show host of “The Doctor is In”)
Fr. Donald Calloway – Adult child of divorce, speaker, author, and a powerful advocate of the family
Christopher West – Author, Speaker, father of five and an expert on “Theology of the Body”
Fr. Steve Porter – Qualified and experienced Spiritual Director and host of “Divine Intervention”
Fr. Mitch Pacwa – Author, speaker, host on EWTN and an adult child of his parents’ late divorce
With heart, humor, powerful theology, and sound psychology, the 12-week “Surviving Divorce” parish program/video series was created. Today it’s distributed by Ascension Press and is used in hundreds of US parishes and many other countries.
I’ve been a coach and leader in Catholic divorce healing now for close to thirty years; I have trained countless men and women (single, divorced, deacons, religious, and even married couples) to professionally and appropriately run these groups with:
What to say and not say
The four steps to an effective healing ministry
The truth about the separated and divorced
Who to include in the group and who to refer elsewhere
How to handle intense emotions in the group
How to address hot topics like dating, sex, and annulment
How and when to close the group
The Dos and Don’ts of divorce ministry….and so much more.
And I can do it for YOUR parish.
Contact me to set up an all-day Facilitator Training, either in person or a mini-version online. Let me coach you to help others.