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What is Life-Giving Wounds?

Please visit this page to see the mission and vision of Life-Giving Wounds.

What makes Life-Giving Wounds unique vis a vis other healing ministries and programs?

The Life-Giving Wounds ministry is specific, peer-to-peer, spiritual, and Catholic. First, we offer specific attention to how the wound of parental divorce or separation is affecting a person’s life; that’s the key concern. Second, we give opportunities for participants to develop peer-to-peer friendships with those who understand this struggle and pain from the inside; these friendships are also powerful witnesses of God’s love and healing. Third, we create the environment for God to bring spiritual healing, which we understand as cultivating a person’s faith, hope, love, and joy, and not (first) psychological healing or general self-help (see FAQ on healing, below). Fourth, Life-Giving Wounds is a specifically Catholic ministry developed from the rich treasury of grace and truth found in Church teachings, spiritual practices, and the sacraments.

Can non-Catholics, non-Christians, or the religiously unaffiliated attend Life-Giving Wounds events?

Yes, we welcome people of all faiths, and those who don’t belong to a faith; the shared commonality is a desire to find greater healing after one’s parents’ divorce or separation. All we ask is that participants realize that different Catholic spiritual practices will take place during the event, such as Mass, Eucharistic adoration, praying with Scripture, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. For non-Catholics, we are happy to “walk through” the retreat weekend or event in advance, in order to make sure they are completely comfortable with the Catholic environment.

What type of healing is offered on the Recovering Origins retreats? Is this “self-help” or psychological healing or something else?

The ministry of Life-Giving Wounds focuses on spiritual healing, with the goal of participants knowing more deeply that they are beloved sons and daughters of God and growing in faith, hope, love, and joy. Ultimately, we hope that all participants can come to see the wound of their parents’ divorce or separation as a profound resource for love. For this healing to occur, witness and friendship are essential: witness from those who know this pain and have progressed on the path of healing, and friendship with those who “get it” and can accompany each other. These elements are a key part of all Recovering Origins retreats. We believe psychological healing is an important complement to the Life-Giving Wounds ministry, but the retreat only lightly touches upon psychological issues; instead, we regularly refer people to counselors and psychologists, who are trained experts in psychological healing.

How does this ministry fit with the mission of a parish and parish life?

The ministry of Life-Giving Wounds aims to point participants back to the importance of the sacraments and parish life. While our programs are meant to be turning points in people’s lives, we believe that for healing to be fully realized and sustained a participant must be actively involved in the sacraments and his or her community in the parish. For this reason, we seek to connect in a new way the importance of parish community and the sacraments for the healing of their wounds. Thus, this ministry is in service to the parish as we aim to foster stronger involvement in parish life.

How does this ministry fit with pre-existing diocesan ministries?

The ministry of Life-Giving Wound can easily be integrated into young adult, adult faith formation, and marriage and family life ministry. Often young adulthood is when people recognize that there is a problem with their parents’ divorce and so it is of great interest and need to young adults. It is also especially well suited to be a resource for engaged couples and could be a regular part of marriage prep ministry in order to strengthen a couple’s love. Likewise, it is an excellent marriage enrichment resource as well.

What if someone thinks he or she is not emotionally ready for a retreat like Recovering Origins?

We encourage people to attend only if they feel emotionally capable of processing difficult situations and experiences from the past, as that is part of the retreat schedule. We don’t want to put anyone into a position they are not ready for. We must allow healing to happen in God’s time, not our time. Also, if someone is seeing a counselor, psychologist, or spiritual director, then we highly recommend that they run this retreat by them in order to see if he or she thinks it is wise for them to attend at this time in their life. Remember, there will always be future opportunities.

What if someone’s parents’ divorce or separation is no longer an issue for them, or never was an issue. Would it still be worth attending?

We recognize that many people have already found significant healing after their parents’ divorce or separation, have been successful in their lives, established strong relationships, and feel close to God in their faith. Nonetheless, many participants tell us that this ministry opened their eyes to things they never thought of, which they found life-changing and important. (You can read some testimonies here.) Also, the reality is that often we can push things out of our mind that are still affecting us. Put another way, we may need time to “thaw out” from painful experiences, so it is good to talk with others in similar circumstances to see if there is anything we can benefit from. The Recovering Origins retreat doesn’t focus on the past in order to get “stuck” in the past, but to better live in the present. Therefore, we believe that this ministry has something to offer all adult children of divorce, no matter the amount of healing they have already received.

Is this ministry for adults whose parents divorced or separated a long time ago, last week, etc.?

Yes, this ministry is for adults of various backgrounds, regardless of when their parents divorced or separated. We regularly have a mix of people whose parents divorced or separated when they were very young children, to whose parents just recently divorced or separated, and everything in between. All groups are usually represented and we seek to speak to all groups.

What do you mean by saying that this ministry is for adult children of '“separation”?

We use the word “separation” very broadly to refer to a variety of familial situations - parents who are married, separated for a time, and reconciled; cohabiting parents who dissolved the cohabitation; and any other situation where one’s parents are no longer together in a relationship but are separated permanently. We have found through ministry that these adult children often experience similar pain to adult children of divorce, although they have their own unique situations as well.

Is this ministry for adults whose parents received a declaration of nullity following a civil divorce?

Yes. We regularly have participants who have gone through their parents’ annulment process, and who come to our programs and benefit from them. We have discovered through their participation and witness that adults who have gone through their parents’ annulment process face virtually the same issues as other adult children of divorce and separation, with the added layer of the declaration of nullity, which can be experienced as either something further positive or negative.

Why does Life-Giving Wounds focus on adults and not children?

The pioneering psychological research of Elizabeth Marquardt in Between Two Worlds and Judith Wallerstein in The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce shows that it is often not until adulthood that children of divorce have enough time and distance away from their parents’ divorce or separation to take a step back and see how it is truly affecting their lives. During childhood, most children, like their parents, are in survival mode and are not in the best position to examine the effects. It is also often the case that difficulties in relationships, usually occurring in young adulthood, cause a person to realize that there may be a problem here to explore in more depth. Finally, no national Catholic ministry currently exists for adult children of divorce, so Life-Giving Wounds seeks to step into that gap.

Are there Catholic ministries for young children and teens whose parents are divorcing or have separated and divorced?

Yes. Please check out Faith Journeys, a Catholic ministry for children developed by Lynn Cassella-Kapusinski, a licensed professional counselor and child of divorce. Faith Journeys has materials and programs for both young children and teenagers. Also, check out Restored Ministry, a Catholic ministry in the Colorado region, which has online resources for teens.

What happens on a Recovering Origins retreat?

Please visit this page for a better description of what the weekend entails.

Is there a training for leaders to do this ministry?

Yes. One goal of Life-Giving Wounds is equipping leaders to carry forward ministry to adult children of divorce. To that end, we offer consultation over the phone, an optional one-or-two-hour training experience before a Recovering Origins Retreat, and a hands-on learning experience during the Recovering Origins Retreat. In the future, we hope to offer more training in the form of a leadership manual, certification, longer training, etc. We are happy to speak with any leader to discuss the best way forward in starting or maintaining a local Life-Giving Wounds ministry.

How can I start Life-Giving Wounds at my parish / diocese / college, etc.?

Please see this page for how to create a local Life-Giving Wounds ministry.

I am thinking about sharing this ministry with my siblings, but I don’t know where to start. How should I go about doing this?  

There are different approaches you could take. You could invite a sibling to go with you on the retreat. You could just simply speak about the effects of your parents’ divorce in your own life in order to open up a conversation, which could include mentioning this retreat or the website. Or if you have already made the retreat, then you could share about your own healing journey and how the retreat helped. Hearing about and seeing your own healing is attractive to others and will draw people naturally to this ministry over time. However, it is important to recognize that some siblings may not be ready to look at the wound for many years for a variety of reasons. Everyone “thaws” out differently from the pain of their parents’ divorce or separation, with very different timetables. For some, it may take decades. Healing happens in God’s time, not our own. Thus, pray for your siblings and that God opens the door for you to discuss this with them.

I am a divorced parent and I would like to better understand the wounds facing my children. May I attend a retreat?

The retreat is only for adult children of divorce or separation who are seeking to heal their wounds. If you happen to also be an adult child of divorce or separation, then you may attend – if you do it seeking your own healing and not simply seeking information about your children. This retreat is not the place to find out information about your children’s struggles because having a divorced parent present can be a tremendous emotional trigger. Participants need a safe place where they can speak freely and not have the fear of accidentally upsetting divorced parents who do not understand their struggles from the inside. If you would like to learn more about your children’s wounds, then please check out our recommended reading and audio page.  

I am a divorced parent and I want to suggest this retreat or ministry to my children. How should I go about doing this?  

Before anything else, pray to God for your children’s healing and how best to approach this situation. Given your participation in the divorce (even if one was an unwilling participant), it is very important for parents to suggest these opportunities with great humility, compassion, and a recognition of the harm caused to your children on account of the divorce. It is best if you start off with apologizing for the harm that the divorce has caused your children and that you are sorry for this reality without bringing up your own pain, attempting to minimize their pain, or defending your actions. Then, after that, please listen to your children if they choose to share anything. At the right moment during the conversation that ensues, you could then gently suggest that you heard that this may be helpful for them and give them information. Please then give space and time for them to make this decision in order to address the wound because it is a very difficult thing to address, especially in cases after many years of silence on this topic. Everyone “thaws” out differently from the pain of their parents’ divorce or separation.