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

Programs helps Catholics navigate emotional devastation of divorce

by Donna Petrocelli, for the Inland Register

(From the January 15, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

All those who go through the process of divorce define its devastating effects in their own way. When my marriage of 46 years ended, it felt like a tsunami hit my life. Although typically seen as a force of nature, tsunami can be defined as “an arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities or amounts.”

Something in overwhelming quantities or amounts … could that also be associated with the feelings many experience when going through a divorce, such as pain, despair, depression, and most especially, a sense of failure?

Many people who have divorced say they felt as though they were seen as losers because they are judged to have somehow failed to do the things necessary to keep their marriage together – myself included.

In the movie August: Osage County, the character played by Julia Roberts explains to her on-screen sister that the reason she had been trying to keep the separation from her husband a secret from the family was “because divorce is an embarrassing public admission of defeat.” Her statement is a sad, but true, reality in our society.

You may be asking yourself, can there be any good news in this article? The answer is – of course! Good news can always be found, because we have a saving and redeeming God. According to the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, “when divorce is the only possible recourse, the Church offers her support to those involved and encourages them to remain close to the Lord through frequent reception of the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.”

I am the director for the Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide Program (CDSG), which I have offered to the churches in our diocese for the last two years. The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide is a 12-week program designed for Catholic men and women who are experiencing the trauma and upheaval caused by divorce or separation. Based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, CDSG is a ministry that provides valuable insights as well as practical tools that will assist them in regaining personal confidence, learning how to rebuild their lives, and most importantly, recognizing they are valued by the Church.

Just recently, I received an e-mail from a woman who participated in the fall session of the program. She gave me permission to share part of her message in this article. She wrote: “It is so wonderful to know that as a divorced Catholic, I am accepted by the Church and need not be ashamed of myself in any way, and that God loves me. I believe divorce strips us and makes us feel naked like the world is watching and can see all our imperfections. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share with you and others and know that I am not alone and God is always near.” It is my greatest hope that every divorced Catholic would be able to “know that God is always near.”

(For further information, email, or call (509) 468-8429.)

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