Divorced Catholics’ Ministries serve an urgent need in the Church today

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Vince and Monica Frese, Regnum Christi members from the Atlanta area, have been on a personal journey of hope that they are now leading many other divorced Catholics in.  

Christ holds those who suffer close to his heart and desires to bring about healing. This program helps participants find their way to reconciliation, peace, and healing through Christ and the Church

Have you asked yourself any of the following?

  •  How do I deal with my anger?

  •  What does the Church say about divorce?

  •  Can I receive the sacraments?

  •  How do I deal with my children?

  •  Do I need to let go?

  •  Do I have to forgive?

  •  Why does God allow divorce to happen?

  •  What is an annulment?

  •  Am I still a loveable person?

  •  Should I date?

  •  Suffering has meaning?

Journey of Hope can help lead you to the answers in a caring and supportive atmosphere

Background

Vince Frese experienced a very painful divorce in 2000. Being a life-long Catholic, he turned to his local parish for support and guidance. He found very little other than a compassionate priest who said that he would pray for him. Vince them embarked on a mostly trial-and-error effort to understand how to live his faith as a divorced Catholic. In 2005, his parish was soliciting ideas on how to better serve the parishioners. Vince suggested a ministry that addressed the long-term needs of Catholics who had experienced separation or divorce. This led to Vince creating a ministry, named Embrace that was focused on providing spiritual, educational, and social offerings for the divorced or separated in the parish community. It was a great success, underscoring the need to minister to divorced Catholics and teach them the beauty of Catholic Church teaching on marriage, and healing from divorce and annulment.
While working with the Embrace Ministry, Vince met Lisa Duffy. Lisa is a life-long Catholic who had also experienced divorce, annulment and remarriage, and the lack of programs and support in the Church. Vince and Lisa combined their efforts and went on to co-author the book, Divorced. Catholic. Now What?. This book forms the basis for the Journey of Hope program, a 13-week divorce recovery program designed to promote healing and recovery from divorce using the solid teaching of the Catholic faith, including Church teaching on the nature of marriage, annulments, and re-marriage. The website, www.divorcedcatholic.org , was created to provide a variety of concrete resources for divorced Catholics, including the Journey of Hope program.
In 2007, after his annulment, Vince married Monica, who had also experienced the pain of divorce and annulment as a Catholic. Since that time Vince and Monica have continued to work to expand Divorced Catholic Ministries with the goal of reaching as many divorced Catholics as possible with the message of receiving Christ’s hope and healing through more fully living the Catholic faith.

Current programs and efforts

 
Divorced Catholic Ministries works actively with divorced Catholics all over the world. From these efforts new ministries continue to develop. The Journey of Hope has evolved to become a two-part program. The first program, Divorced Catholic: Recovering from Divorce, helps the Catholic recover from the emotional and spiritual trauma of divorce. A follow-on to the Recovery program, Divorced Catholic: Rebuilding after Divorce, is being piloted. This 13-week program is intended to help divorced Catholics plan and build their lives around God’s will by more fully integrating their faith as they go forward.

Jim, a participant in the program who was married for 9 years before his divorce, relates “I definitely found hope for my future. I learned to trust God.” 

All of Divorced Catholics Ministries’ programs assist Catholics to recover, rebuild, and renew their lives after divorce by helping them more fully learn and live their faith. Once a Catholic has been healed from the emotional pain of divorce by living their faith more fully, they often become zealous for their faith. Typically, they wish to help other divorced Catholics by sharing the truth they have come to know. They tend to become much more active, vibrant, and contributing parishioners.

The programs introduce divorced Catholics to the love of God, form them in their faith and help them better discern their future. By helping participants understand past mistakes, more fully integrate their Catholic faith into their lives, and make better choices, we are able to help break the cycle of divorce.

Gianna, a program participants who was divorced after a 4 year marriage shares, “I don’t know what I would have done without it. I have definitely moved forward and I believe I trust more that there is a place for me in the Church and that I haven’t been abandoned by God.”
 

Diocesan Applications

Pope Francis has raised awareness of the needs of divorced Catholics, which can account for up to 40-50% of adult Catholic populations in the diocese. This has challenged dioceses and parishes to take concrete and immediate steps to meet these needs. Divorced Catholics Ministries’ recovery and rebuilding programs, workshops and website are an effective and immediate solution for the Church and its divorced members for dioceses which are often under prepared to meet the surging needs of divorced Catholics. Many dioceses lack the programs, the staff, and the knowledge to effectively minister to this significant portion of their population. The Divorced Catholic programs are designed to be turn-key, requiring only modest training to facilitate and administer. 

Knowing that a lack of support programs, combined with misinformation, is the key driver behind divorced Catholics leaving the Catholic Church, the Freses and their apostolate offer a solution to both of these challenges, placing significant focus on providing resources over the Internet for on-demand support to Catholics in all dioceses. This helps to bridge the gap in the availability of parish-based programs and ensure that every Catholic has online access to support and resources they need to deal with divorce. 

 

Journey of Hope is a 13-week support program to help Catholics recover from the emotional pain of divorce or separation and to regain hope. With its uniquely Catholic prospective, Journey of Hope addresses the key challenges brought on by divorce and leads participants down the path to recovery by helping them more fully understand and live their faith. The result is a rediscovery of the beauty and wisdom of the Catholic faith, and a deep connection to Jesus Christ, the great healer and restorer of hope. Journey of Hope is being facilitated in parishes throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribean.
 
What You Can Expect
 
Journey of Hope participants experience real healing and renewal of hope in their lives. After completing the program, each participant is deeply enlightened on the Truth of their Catholic faith and comes away with a clearer understanding of how to live it more fully to tackle life after divorce. Instead of it being a theory, or theology, their faith now becomes a vibrant, fundamental framework for their lives. The healing and renewal that starts during the program continues for their lifetime.

Meetings

The book, Divorced. Catholic. Now What? , the companion workbook, and the DVD, Voices of Hope, are the core materials used for the program.  Groups meet weekly to review that week's topic, view the appropriate segment from the DVD, and share thoughts from the discussion questions.
 
 
Topics
 
The 13-week program covers these topics:
 
Week 1: Why Did God Allow This to Happen?
 
Week 2: Anger with Our Spouses, Ourselves, and God
 
Week 3: Praying in Times of Distress
 
Week 4: What Does the Church Really Teach about Divorce?
 
Week 5: What is an Annulment?
 
Week 6: Dealing with the Ex-Spouse
 
Week 7: Helping Children Cope
 
Week 8: The Healing Begins
 
Week 9: Our Own Self-Worth
 
Week 10: The Value of Suffering
 
Week 11: Letting Go and Working on Forgiveness
 
Week 12: Dating and Intimacy as a Divorced Catholic
 
Week 13: Gratitude and Hope for the Future
 


Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
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