When my husband Dan was 11, his parents separated. Like other children in this situation, he started shuttling between two ever-diverging homes. He dealt with feelings of anger, hurt and betrayal, but wasn’t sure where to turn for help or understanding. His parents’ split shook his trust in relationships, raised big questions about his own identity, and, for a time, damaged his relationship with God and the church.
Thankfully, Dan found support from several attentive priests, his youth minister and especially his long-married grandparents, who gave the witness to lasting love he desperately needed. By the time we met in graduate school, he had experienced deep healing from the wounds caused by his family’s breakdown. But even when we got married – in a sad irony, during the same year his parents’ divorce was finalized – he had anxiety about whether our love could last.
Dan is far from alone in his experiences. It probably goes without saying that family breakdown is widespread today through divorce, separation and a rise in cohabitation dissolution and other relationship disruptions. One sobering statistic is that fewer than half of children spend the entirety of their childhood together with their parents in a unified home. And sadly, those who come from broken homes are more likely to divorce themselves, if they marry at all. As the saying goes, a wound that isn’t transformed is transmitted.
Knowing this, and also knowing the richness our church and faith have to offer all those who have suffered from their family’s breakdown, Dan and I founded Life-Giving Wounds, a Catholic apostolate dedicated to giving voice to the pain of adult children of divorce or separation and helping them find deep spiritual healing….
This fall, the Archdiocese of San Francisco launched a local Life-Giving Wounds chapter under the leadership of Ed Hopfner, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, and in collaboration with the Young Adult and Vocations offices….
Starting Oct. 7, the new Life-Giving Wounds chapter of San Francisco is running a six-week online support group for adult children of divorce or separation. And then in March 2022, an in-person retreat will be held in the Bay Area, led by the Life-Giving Wounds traveling retreat team in collaboration with local leaders….
Father Luke Joseph Leighton, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, is a priest serving in the Diocese of Oakland, an adult child of divorce, and one of the over 600 people around the country who have attended a Life-Giving Wounds retreat or support group over the last several years.
“The Life-Giving Wounds retreat is a pilgrimage,” says Father Leighton. “A sacred journey. Looking back over my retreat weekend, I can see that through the vulnerability of sharing my story, I was open to hearing and receiving the proclamation of the Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection in a way that poured healing love into the wound in my heart caused by my parents’ divorce….”
The above comes from a Nov. 15 story by Bethany Meola on the website of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.