By Sandy Possehl
Co-Chair, Catholic Divorce Ministry Council
SAN BERNARDINO—One of the most devastating tragedies a person can experience is the loss of a marriage, either through death or divorce. No one plans on getting a divorce when they get married. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. The pain of a divorce affects more than the couple. It touches the whole community surrounding them. The loss of a dream is a very painful process to navigate. One of the parties may have to assume new responsibilities they never imagined they would have to handle. It’s an intimidating process and can become overwhelming.
They can seek help from a support group of “wounded warriors” who are individuals that have traversed this painful journey and can help with the healing process since they understand the agony.
Thank God for Pope Francis and his encyclical Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), which put a new and positive view of the divorced and their standing in the Catholic Church. Francis welcomed divorced persons back into the Church and urged everyone else to do likewise. That generated a slow-growing movement to recognize divorce/separated ministries throughout the dioceses. Gratefully, we have been blessed by having diocesan leadership who has embraced this mission to seek out and help those Catholics who have felt alienated from their Church.
Fortunately, we have a group of these qualified “wounded warriors” in the Diocese of San Bernardino who will be offering various established support programs, virtually, beginning in January 2021. The programs will begin with a talk on Annulment from Mary Ann Brewer-Nolan on January 5th from 7:00-8:30 PM. Following that talk, we will offer a six-week Surviving Divorce program beginning on Jan. 13th from 7:00-8:30 PM. We will also offer a 13-week DivorceCare program on Jan. 28th from 7:00-8:30 PM. A third six-week program entitled Journey of Hope will begin March 3.
We hope and pray that this message of pastoral accompaniment will be extended to the community of divorced and separated in our parishes.