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A Faith-Based Renewal Process for Divorced Catholics and Others
For information contact Marilyn Steinhiser at 219-874-9663.
Divorce and Beyond is a faith-based recovery program for divorced Catholics and other people of faith. The workshop consists of 10 weekly sessions of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours each. Our mission is to help participants move through the emotions of their loss to acceptance, healing and forgiveness. We hope divorced Catholics and others will feel welcomed and supported by their faith community and will remain active in the spiritual and sacramental of the Church.
About Divorce and Beyond
The Divorce and Beyond process was created by Brother James Greteman CSC and Leon Haverkamp M.S.W. It was designed as a peer-support, self-help program to help divorced Catholics address the emotional and spiritual stress of divorce, adjust to the changes created by divorce, and move on with their lives in a positive and constructive way.
The Divorce and Beyond process helps participants find healing by sharing with other adults who have or are experiencing the same loss. Once participants are able to identify and verbalize their feelings, they can begin to move toward understanding and then forgiveness.
Participants receive a copy of the book Divorce and Beyond, which is the foundation for the Divorce and Beyond process. In addition to information from the book, there is an opportunity for participants to share and discuss personal concerns or issues in the safety of the Divorce and Beyond group.
The Process of Divorce. This session explores with the emotional journey from the pain of divorce to a more hopeful future. Participants are invited to consider their emotional responses to the loss. Understanding the personal, economic, social and family losses involved with divorce helps participants understand the complexity and extent of the issues.
Self-Image. This session deals with the damage to one's image of self and self-esteem that divorce can cause. Feelings of rejection and failure are common among those who are divorced. It is important for participants to restore their self-esteem, redefine themselves, and see the possibility of growth in the future.
Stress. This session focuses on the extraordinary stress that divorce can place on a person. Recognizing the stress can help the participant find constructive ways to cope with it. Without a constructive approach, stress can become debilitating and lead to other physical, emotional, relational, functional and spiritual problems.
Anger. This session addresses the origins and expressions of anger. Anger is a natural part of grieving and is not in itself unhealthy. However, what a person does with anger can be harmful. If a person is stuck at the anger stage, there may be little chance of healing and hope.
Blame and Guilt. This session explores a divorced person's tendency to find fault in the divorce. Whether it is excessively blaming the other person, or accepting all of the blame and guilt oneself, there is seldom a realistic acceptance of mutual fault. A more balanced and realistic understanding of "who is to blame" can help divorced persons find a path to personal freedom and growth.
Loneliness. This session builds on Session 2's discussion of self-esteem and examines the difference between, and the positive opportunity of, being alone versus the sense of being lonely. After a reasonable period of grieving, divorced persons are encouraged to reach out to others in new friendships -- less out of need and more for the joy of being with others.
Pathways to Growth and Forgiveness. This session explores the process of moving from mourning the past to anticipating the future. It helps participants begin to recognize the reality of a more hopeful life ahead. It deals with the truly healing step of moving beyond the bitterness of the past. Not every divorced person is ready to make this step, but every divorced person should be encouraged to contemplate how important this step might be in their own healing.
Happiness. This session encourages participants to develop practical strategies which help them pursue and acquire the habit of happiness. Session 10 also examines the Catholic process for requesting a Decree of Invalidity (an Annulment).
Structure of the Weekly Meeting
The facilitator will open each session with a short prayer. At early sessions, the prayer will be followed by introductions. As the group becomes more familiar and comfortable with each other, there may be a short period of time when participants discuss how the past week has gone.
Following the introductions or discussion, the group takes turns reading sections from the week's lesson in Divorce and Beyond. Following the reading, each participant works privately on the suggested discussion questions. When participants have had sufficient time for personal reflection, the facilitator will guide a general discussion. The weekly session concludes with a short prayer or meditation.
If you choose to participate in Divorce and Beyond, you should expect:
- to grow in your understanding of, and ability to respond constructively to, the personal, social and spiritual effects of divorce;
- to be treated with respect and understanding at all times;
- to be encouraged and supported, not criticized, judged or attacked;
- to trust that your opinions, insights, convictions and experiences will always be treated with reverence and confidentiality;
- never to be forced to say or do anything which would be uncomfortable, dishonest or embarrassing to yourself or another person.
If you choose to participate in Divorce and Beyond, other participants in the group should expect you:
- to treat them with respect and understanding at all times;
- to encourage and support them, not criticize, judge or attack them;
- to treat their opinions, insights, convictions and experiences with reverence and confidentiality;
- never to say or do anything which would intentionally make another participant uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Experiences, opinions and insights shared during the group discussion should be treated with confidentiality and should not be repeated or alluded to, even anonymously, outside the group.