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Sept. 14, 2022

By Steve Tartaglia
Director, Family Life Office

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute (ruthinstitute.org) says that kids are not as resilient as people claim they are. The idea that kids get over divorce is just not true. The problems go on and on, showing up at holidays, weddings, graduations, etc.

The list of negative effects of divorce on children is lengthy, but two noteworthy problems are a damaged vision of marriage and a loss of faith. Children from divorced families often have a very hard time with trust and are highly anxious about relationships, dating, marriage and parenthood. Marriages where one or both spouses are from divorced homes are more likely to end in divorce than marriages with two spouses from intact homes, perpetuating the problem for generations.

Children from divorced families often feel rejected and abandoned by God because the two people that are supposed to model God’s love for them have failed. They may also see religious faith as hypocritical, questioning why God allowed their suffering to happen. If no one from the faith community reaches out to them to help them, as is frequently the case, they may leave institutional faith altogether, describing themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”

Recognizing the tremendous need to help adults who have experienced the separation and/or divorce of their parents, the Family Life Office has begun offering a new ministry, “Life-Giving Wounds.”

Life-Giving Wounds is peer-led ministry to adults with divorced and separated parents, allowing them to give voice to their pain and find deep spiritual healing. The ministry provides a unique means for Christ to transform their life-draining wounds into life-giving resources of faith, hope, love and joy for themselves, their relationships, and the Church.

Life-Giving Wounds ministry begins with a retreat for adult children of separation or divorce, where retreatants listen to talks given by professionally trained speakers, participate in small group conversations, spend time in prayer and journal-based reflection, and have opportunities to encounter Christ in Eucharistic Adoration, the sacrament of reconciliation, and Mass.

After the initial retreat, they are invited to continue their healing via participation in locally offered support groups and events.

The Family Life Office offered the Life-Giving Wounds Retreat on June 10-12 at the Guggenheim Center in Saranac Lake.

Dr. Daniel and Bethany Meola founded Life-Giving Wounds ministry in 2018, after receiving positive feedback from Family Life Directors at a talk Dr. Daniel gave in 2017 at the annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM). There was no program in existence at that time to meet the specific needs of now-adult children of divorce or separation. Diocesan Family Life directors suggested forming a team dedicated to spreading the retreat and training leaders in this ministry. The ministry has grown and spread across the United States. In fact, the retreat held in the Diocese of Ogdensburg broke new ground as a few of the participants were from Toronto, Canada.

The first annual Diocese of Ogdensburg Life-Giving Wounds Retreat was very successful. The Retreat Team included Steve Tartaglia, director of the Family Life Office, Colleen Miner, director of the Respect Life Office, Dr. Daniel Meola, Ms. Jennifer Cox, Father Christopher C. Carrara, and Fritz Wenzler.

The nine participants were men and women ranging in age from 18 to 58 years old. Most of the participants were from the Diocese of Ogdensburg, however two were from Toronto and one was from Louisiana.

The Family Life Office has formed a local retreat team that will offer the Life-Giving Wounds retreat annually as well as follow up support for retreat participants.

For more information about the Life-Giving Wounds ministry, go to lifegivingwounds.org.

For information about the ministry and upcoming retreats within the diocese, contact Tartaglia at 315-393-2920 or startaglia@rcdony.org.

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