Going through my divorce was one of the most difficult experiences in my life. As a Catholic it was filled with spiritual challenges and pitfalls. I went through a period of loneliness that was unparalleled to any other point in my life. I know, as many of you read this, that you are nodding your heads in agreement.
Our church family can help support us in all the different transitions in life. This can be especially true for divorced Catholics or those in irregular marriage situations if we are creative about finding ways to include them. Although those in irregular marriages (a civil remarriage without the benefit of obtaining an annulment first) cannot receive the Eucharist, they should not be excluded from all aspects of parish life.
However, most parishes seem to fall into one of two groups: either they include divorced persons (even those in irregular marriage situations) in everything (without regard for the appropriateness of involvement due to their current state) or they are not included in anything in an attempt not to cause scandal.
Neither of these approaches is comprehensive when finding compassionate, but appropriate, roles for these brothers and sisters in Christ. When people feel connected to their church family it helps them deal with the pain and loneliness that these situations can bring about. Our parishes should be safe places that are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
There are ways to help lessen the isolation some of our church members feel, without putting them in a position of confusing other parishioners about Church teaching (regarding divorce and remarriage).
If you are a divorced Catholic, consider advocating for yourself by suggesting participation in some of the following ideas.
- With guidance from strong, faithful, catechetical-based leader, encourage divorced/remarried parishioners to start a support group for those in the parish in similar situations.
- Attend a Bible study or Faith Enrichment Program ( for example ChristLife).
- Help cook for events the parish is hosting, or for visiting priests.
- Join a ministry team to send out cards to the bereaved.
- Utilize your talents and treasures in social justice and social ministry works.
- Start a Book Club and read titles like Rebuilding After Divorce by Rose Sweet or The Catholic Guide to Dating after Divorce by Lisa Duffy.
- Read my article: “Three Things Divorced Catholics Need to Know.”
My new book, The Three Things Divorced Catholics Need to Know, has just been released by Our Sunday Visitor.
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Copyright 2017 Mary Lou Rosien