Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

‘The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide’ offers a ‘solidly Catholic’ approach

by Donna M. Petrocelli, for the Inland Register

(From the Aug. 21, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

As children begin preparing to go back to school, it makes me think about a time gone by when I was in grade school. I recall each year our first assignment would be to write about “how I spent my summer.” As I prepare for another session of my divorce ministry this coming September, it gives me an incentive to reflect on my own important summertime accomplishment.

My goal this summer was to obtain official approval from Bishop Cupich to use the 12-week program, “The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide” (CDSD), within the Spokane Diocese. After a deliberate assessment of the program’s content, I am immensely pleased to report that Bishop Cupich has granted his approval.

Receiving official permission to use this specific program is important. The program provides a much-needed venue for outreach to divorced men and women who feel they are no longer valued or welcome in the Catholic Church. Diocesan approval is not only vital to the integrity of the program itself, but it shows genuine Church support to divorcees by fostering their growth, in faith and in their relationship with Christ.

The CDSG program provides divorced men and women with the practical tools necessary to deal with the myriad of issues surrounding a divorce. Moreover, it gently guides them back to the faithful richness of the Church’s love and care. Through this program, Catholic divorcees are also re-educated about the true nature of a sacramental marriage, rather than the falsehoods they have so often embraced. Some believe that for a Catholic, divorce means excommunication from the Church or, possibly worse, that a declaration of nullity means their children are “illegitimate.”

CDSD holds enormous potential as a formidable gateway to the healing process for divorced men and women, yet maintains what Bishop Cupich considered a “solidly Catholic” perspective.

One of our participants in our spring session said, “I received much insight into divorce and how it is Christ who will be faithful and loving to us.” Once men and women are able to recognize the love and forgiveness Christ has for them, the healing process begins. As the healing process continues, many divorcees return to the Church with a passionate desire to become an active member in their parish.

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to advertise; what can be better than a satisfied customer? Without the active support of pastors and parishioners, many divorced Catholics will remain in the dark about this much-needed ministry. Most divorced Catholics are not the ones in the pews reading a bulletin message about this program; however, you are! You too can add to the overall endorsement of this ministry via your day-to-day prayers; by becoming a resource for someone you know who is going through a divorce, and by inviting your pastor to refer his parishioners who are in the process of separating or divorcing.

(Donna Petrocelli is Program Director of The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide (CDSG). The next session of CDSG will be Wednesday, Sept. 3, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Assumption Parish, 3624 W. Indian Trail Rd. in Spokane. Cost for the 12-week program is $25. To register or for more information, contact Petrocelli, either by email at, or by phone at (509) 468-8429.)

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