Catholic? Divorced? The Church Wants You Here

Divorce recovery expert Lisa Duffy will be in Kansas City April 20-21 to train divorce ministry facilitators and offer a free talk on six keys to healing as a divorced Catholic.

Megan Marley

Coming to a parish near you: divorced Catholics will soon have a new healing and support group system to help them with the pain of losing their spouse and how to move forward and fully live out their Faith.

The Journey of Hope program, authored by divorce recovery expert Lisa Duffy, is offered as a resource for parishes by the Family Life office. Duffy herself will be training the first divorce ministry leaders on April 21, and will also give a free seminar for anyone interested in learning six keys to healing for divorced Catholics 7-9 p.m. on April 20, both at the Catholic Center in downtown Kansas City.

The 18-week Journey of Hope program will cover 17 aspects and challenges facing Catholics who have or are going through a divorce, “Everything from understanding what the Church teaches on divorce, what an annulment is, how to help their children heal, how to deal with ex-spouses, why it’s important to stay close to the sacraments, sex and dating as a divorced Catholic…all these really hot-button questions that are hard to get answers on typically,” Lisa Duffy said. Groups going through the course typically read a chapter and meet once a week to watch a short video and have discussions.

Duffy wrote the program out of her own painful experience of divorce and in response to the lack of Catholic resources. The closest thing she could find in her parish was a group for separated, divorced and widowed persons.

“Losing a spouse, period, is a great loss to suffer. But death and divorce are very different,” Duffy said.

Now happily remarried, Duffy has spent over 20 years coaching divorcees and launching divorce ministry in parishes.

“I can’t express enough how important it is to have something to support the divorced community in the Church. There are so many people who suffer on their own, and when they feel so cut off and alienated, that’s what prompts them to leave the Church,” she said.

As someone who has gone through a divorce, Family Life office program coordinator Kristen Marquis believes the Journey of Hope course offers real help.

“I love this program, specifically because it reaches out to people of all ages, men and women, and incorporates well that it’s solidly Catholic,” she said.

She also likes that the program extends over a long period of time and fosters spiritual life.

“There’s a lot of healing to be done that you can’t do in a short amount of time, and you not going to be able to foster the good prayer and spiritual life habits that you can over a longer period of time,” Marquis said.

To implement the divorce ministry program, a parish needs at least one person willing to facilitate, but ideally two—one man and one woman—to lead small groups with members of their own sex.

“You don’t necessarily have to have had a divorce to be a divorce ministry leader, but you do have to have a heart for those who’ve been through it, and have an understanding and passion for that,” said Marquis. She also said that solid faith formation and a willingness to take charge and direct discussions are necessary.

“If someone wants to be a leader, they need to make sure they have their pastor’s approval to do that, and there’s a fee for the training which typically the parish would pay for to have a facilitator,” she concluded.

For more information on the Journey of Hope program, contact the Family Life office at family@diocesekcsj.org, or visit kcsjfamily.org/families/separated-divorced-widowed/journey-hope-divorce-ministry. For more on Lisa Duffy and her divorce ministry, visit LisaDuffy.com. To start the annulment process, contact your parish priest.

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Tuesday
April 24, 2018
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph