2017 July 22 National CDM Conference at Catholic University of America, Washington DC

105125 Board members good
2017 Board of Directors

105528 close up after mass best (2)
after Mass at Basilica

Greg Suzanne (3)
gift outgoing President

2017 November 4 – Orange County, CA

20171104 125123 Julie Angelea
Angela, Kelly, Julie

2013 June 22 – CDM Conference, Baltimore MD

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Staying Power in Divorce Ministry
by Sr. Adaire Lassonde, SSND    |    Reprinted from Jacob's Well, CDM's quarterly membership newsletter.

One of the frustrations of divorce ministry is keeping the energy going that existed when the ministry began.  Whether one parish or a coalition of parishes sponsors a group for the separated and divorced, keeping it going and maintaining its vigor is no little job!

Part of seeing to it that there can be a "staying power" for divorce ministry has to do with what kind of support you have on the parish level.  That's why putting a group together is not just a month's worth of time.  To inaugurate divorce ministry that will last, it is important that it has the broadest support possible.  Before getting a few parishioners excited about the prospects of a starting a group, it may be very smart to prepare the parish staff and parish council in such a way that you will get a mandate, from these groups to minister to this population!

Once the green light is given, there are many aspects to preparing to start a group.  What kind of resources already exist in my area for the divorced?  Who will sponsor this group, just our parish, or a group of parishes?  What form will their sponsorship take, will they provide a budget, space, training of facilitators, etc?  Who will be our facilitators, and what qualities will we be looking for?  What kind of supervision will be provided for them so there will be less burn-out?  How do we get the word out?  What benefits/drawbacks are there in being ecumenical?

Who hasn't dealt with diminishing numbers, when you know there are many people out there who are hurting because of separation and divorce?  How do you help them to understand that they belong to the faith community, that they shouldn't go away?

All of these issues and more are of paramount importance in planning for divorce ministry in a parish or region.

It will be exciting at the North American Conference for Separated and Divorced Catholics conference at Notre Dame to share with each other some of the accomplishments and challenges that exist in the ministry.

CDM encourages your parish to embrace a Family Perspective through the presence of Divorce Ministry.

Divorce Ministry INFORMS

  • parishioners of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce.
  • separating couples on programs available that can help their failing relationship.
  • the divorced on what the Catholic annulment process is and is not.
  • the divorced where to find Christian Counseling for self and family.

Divorce Ministry INVITES

  • the divorced family into full participation of parish life.

Divorce Ministry ENCOURAGES

  • healing through Christ’s love and understanding by providing healing services, special masses, workshops, programming, and publications for the divorced.
  • the divorced to remain connected to their faith community.

Divorce Ministry AFFIRMS

  • that the divorced family is still family and is holy.
  • and recognizes the unique needs of single parents and their children.


  • families who have experienced divorce or who are in irregular marriages following a divorce and who feel excommunicated and alienated because of their circumstances.

Divorce Ministry PRAYS

  • with and for the divorced and their families, specifically including them in the mass petitions.
  • with the divorced before and during their annulment process, asking Christ’s healing through it.
Download this article in one-page PDF format, suitable for printing.

If you are interested in starting a divorce support and recovery group, here is some helpful information:


Tips on Establishing a Support Group

Guidelines for Parishes Setting Up a Support Group for the Separated and Divorced

Ground Rules for Support Groups

Staying Power in Divorce Ministry

Ten Ways to Help Your Grandchild through Divorce
by Dr. Lois Nightingale    |    Reprinted from Jacob's Well, CDM's quarterly membership newsletter.
  • Don't disparage your ex-son or daughter-in law in front of your grandchildren.  Make sure they are not in ear-shot when talking about their parents on the phone as well.
  • Remember holidays.  An important role of a grandparent is to celebrate and help create memories.  These celebrations may look different than you had once imagined for your fancily, but if you keep the grandchildren's interests first, you will be creating memorable and wonderful family traditions.  (Even a home-baked box of cookies mailed at certain times of the year can became a cherished childhood memory that lets a child know they are always loved.)
  • Be a good listener.  Your grandchild may be surrounded by chaos and angry adults; you may provide the only place where they can really feel heard.  You are someone who has the time to listen without trying to "fix" it.  A loving ear can get a child through a lot!
  • Set up your expectations for their behavior before they arrive.  You will probably have different rules than their parents do; children can adapt so long as these rules are specifically stated (writing them down is a great idea).  A household where there are five compliments to every directive (i.e. "get your feet off the coffee table") is an environment where children will thrive.  A reward based "star chart" can help make this easier.
  • Become the unbiased, non-judgmental confidant children need in a loving authority.  Their parents may be too wounded emotionally and unable to be unconditionally present for them.  A special relationship with a grandparent can make all the difference to a child facing change.
  • Don't sabotage agreements set up by either parent.  If one parent has made arrangements for the child to attend a special class (dance, soccer, etc.) make your plans accordingly.  If the child knows they must finish their homework before they can go out to play, don't let them off easy just because you feel sorry for them in their situation.
  • Let your grandchildren know however they are feeling is OK.  Many children are told that they "shouldn't" feel this or that, or adults feel guilty that a child is in pain so they try to talk them out of it.  This only adds to the child feeling unheard.  Even wanting their parents back together is a normal desire for children in this circumstance.
  • Tell your grandchildren stories about challenges you have faced and overcome in your life.  Help them see you as someone who believes things will be all right and that they are safe.  Focus on the positive.
  • Share your spiritual beliefs with them in a fun non-judgmental way.  If you find rejuvenation in nature take them for a walk or to the beach.  If you find tranquility in music share that love with them.  Help your grandchildren connect to the quiet place inside themselves.
  • Read together during a quiet time before they go to bed or in between activities during the day.  Reading children's books about feelings or how other children have coped with the upheaval of divorce will help them find words to ask you the questions they need to have answered.
Dr. Lois Nightingale is the author of My Parents Still Love Me Even Though They're Getting Divorced, a story/workbook that helps children better understand divorce and what they can do to feel better.
Article reprinted from the Summer, 2000, issue of Jacob's Well, CDM's quarterly membership newsletter.