Catholics from all over the country gathered in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this month to participate in a national conference were the family law in Missouri was invited and the purpose of this was to aimed at reaching out to the divorced and separated.
Crux is reporting on the Journey of Hope Conference for Divorced Recovery that took place August 4-6 in partnership with the Diocese of Charleston. The purpose of the conference was to prepare leaders to hold similar events in diocese throughout the country where the divorced and separated can come together to find hope, healing and mercy with others who are on the same painful journey.
“Divorced Catholics often feel disconnected from their parish communities and many often assume they are not welcome at church,” said Lisa Duffy, creator of the Journey of Hope parish-based program. “The goal of the conference is to gather them together to offer them a community experience where they can find healing, accurate answers to the questions they have about the issues they face, and compassion. The need for outreach to the Catholic divorced community is immense.”
Duffy, who is divorced, said she used her own experience to guide her in the creation of the Journey of Hope program which is being used in parishes throughout the United States.
“The goal is to first let them know they are not alone in their suffering, that they are still an important part of the Catholic community, and to offer compassionate opportunities to find healing through their faith,” Duffy said.
As Crux reports, national conferences have been held in various cities throughout the U.S. and are aimed at bringing together the divorced and separated and providing them with a setting where they can experience hope, healing and mercy along with others who are making the same journey.
“Duffy noted that past attendees consistently say that being around people who understand the depth of their pain is one of the most important aspects of the event. Participants said they feel free to share their experience with others in a safe environment.”
Kathy Schmugge, director of the diocesan Office of Family Life, the office that sponsored the program, said the overarching theme of the Journey of Hope conferences is to take the next step; to stop nursing the wound and move on to healing.
Most importantly, she told Crux, it’s about using the experience to help someone else.
“Through the testimony given, I hope that the participants see that God will use their experience of divorce or separation to help someone else one day because they have a unique understanding of the pain suffered,” she said.
“The event also made it clear how much we need to provide a compassionate and faithful ministry to those who are going through divorce and separation,” she continued.
“My hope is that through the healing that took place, we may have prepared a new group of leaders in this ministry, not only in the Charleston Diocese but all the other dioceses represented in this national conference.”
Participants who attended from out of state said they hope to bring the conference to their own locations.
Click here for more information about the Journey of Hope parish program.
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