The wounds of divorce can be healed, but it is an ongoing process. Life-Giving Wounds is offering healing retreats for young adults and adults with separated and divorced parents. Pixabay

Healing hands take care of ‘Life-Giving Wounds’

  • September 21, 2023

The non-profit Catholic pastoral organization Life-Giving Wounds (LGW) has offered healing retreats for young adults and adults with separated and divorced parents for over five years across the U.S.A.

This experience will be offered in Canada for the first time from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at the St. Francis Centre for Religious Studies near Caledon, Ont., in collaboration with the Saint Monica Institute for Education and Evangelization.

Dr. Maria Wolfs, the Canadian retreat coordinator, said she participated in a virtual LGW conference during the COVID-19 pandemic that opened the door to a transformative experience down the road.

“I heard Beth Sri, the wife of well-known theologian Edward Sri, speak about her own experience of challenges that she discerned were part of her own background as an adult child of divorced parents,” said Wolfs, an endocrinologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “After hearing her speak I went online to the Life-Giving Wounds website and found a retreat in Ogdensburg, New York. That retreat was the culmination of years of sacramental life prayers, counselling and spiritual direction. It was a tremendous culmination of healing in my own life.”

Wolfs felt a desire to help others experience the healing she was provided through this LGW retreat. She is spearheading the development of the first international LGW chapter within the Archdiocese of Toronto.

It all begins with the debut event later this month. Over the weekend, attendees will be treated to a series of six talks, each concerning a different wound of divorce or separation. Wolfs wrote about each of the wounds in an event preview blog post on the Toronto archdiocesan website. The wounds are as follows:

  1. The wound of silence — “which makes it hard to acknowledge the pain we have and currently experience and the feelings of shame that accompany the pain.”
  2. The wound on our identity — “what does it mean to be a child of God, a wound caused in part by the loss of childhood, rest and play that many children of divorce experience.”
  3. The wound of distrust “towards dependence and receptivity with God and others, and (if) it’s even possible to trust another person.”
  4. The wound of fear — “a damaged vision of love that can lead to unhealthy relationships and patterns in dating.”
  5. The wound of anger and anxiety — “common emotions when our parents’ divorce.”
  6. The wound of unforgiveness — “difficulty with forgiveness and understanding Divine Mercy.”

The weekend will also provide opportunities for small-group reflection and guided journaling. Wolfs said, “most importantly, there is access to the sacramental graces like Mass, adoration and confession.”

LGW’s traveling retreat team will guide the weekend. Notably, the organization’s founder, Dr. Daniel Meola, will be on hand. Meola, like all members of his team, is an adult child of divorce. He earned a PhD in Theology of Marriage and Family from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.

Wolfs told The Catholic Register the one defining message she hopes retreatants adhere with their hearts and minds as they complete their weekend at St. Francis Centre.

“The one takeaway is that Jesus said, ‘I come that they might have life and have it abundantly.’ Adult children of divorced parents carry wounds, and Jesus wants to take all those wounds and transform them into a wellspring so that we can truly live in the fullness in the freedom of being children of God.”

The LGW website articulates “that healing is possible, but it is an ongoing process.” The intent is for the weekend to be a “significant turning point” in helping these adult children learn how to create “life-giving resources of faith, hope, love and joy, even in the deepest suffering.”

Visit the Saint Monica Institute website for additional registration and pricing information.

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