By Kathy Keaton
Many of you who are reading this are divorced, about to get a divorce or separated, or have experienced the death of your spouse. You may have a friend or family member who is experiencing such a loss and be anxious to offer help to other. Those experiencing these situations may be feeling devastated, lost, angry, scared, guilty or any other number of feelings that accompany a failed marriage, separation or death of a spouse. Those experiencing the loss of a spouse know there is often unfinished business, many unanswered questions and sometimes stumbling blocks before one can accept the loss and begin moving forward. There are daily problems as well as long-term concerns. The Catholic Diocese of San Angelo offers help and support to those who are struggling with these situations and offers help and hope for a new beginning.
Three times a year Christ The King Retreat Center in San Angelo, opens its doors for a spiritual weekend retreat to offer help and support for those who are divorced, separated or widowed. For hundreds these retreats have proven to be the springboard for a fresh start and a truly new beginning. According to Father Tom Barley, pastor of St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Wall Texas,“the weekend ministry offers a forum of healing where individuals can face together the issues they are dealing with after the loss of a marriage or spouse for whatever reason.” Father Tom has served as spiritual adviser for “The Beginning Experience” peer ministry team for several years. Fr. Tom continues, “the weekend is supportive and safe and confidential.” It helps people move from brokenness to a feeling of not being alone. Feelings come and feelings go and healing comes in stages. The weekend helps participants connect with something deeper. It offers new strength and self confidence. After attending a weekend participants find not only have they connected with others facing the same fears and emotions but they find they are often stronger than they realized.”
William Rosser, pastor and Public Relations Director for Hospice of San Angelo, has also attended several weekends as a spiritual advisor. William reminds participants that “they must take ownership for their part in the divorce. Sometimes that is very hard to understand when you feel you are the victim. Even if you are the person that has been wronged you will never heal if you cannot take responsibility for your part and only your part. You can forgive and be forgiven but often there are still consequences to be faced. God is the God of the past, present and future. By first dealing with our past we can then begin to make a difference in our future.” The weekend offers that guidance and strength to begin anew.
Janice Gonzales, (name changed for confidentiality) one of the original participants of “The Beginning Experience” says, “I went into the weekend feeling very guilty after my divorce. Between my religious beliefs and my ethnic heritage there was much stigma attached to the failure of my marriage. I didn’t know what to expect and was very apprehensive. It was life changing to learn that even after a divorce that God still loved me and that I was ok right where I was. After the weekend I resolved my anger, reconciled with the church and renewed my self worth and self esteem.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please watch future Angeluses and The Angelus Online for dates for the next New Beginnings workshop.)