Online retreat offered for divorced or separated Catholics

Friday, Sep. 04, 2020
Online retreat offered for divorced or separated Catholics + Enlarge
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY —An online retreat for divorced and separated Catholics is being offered by New Beginnings, a divorce recovery program in conjunction with the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
 “It is important to minister to the needs of our divorced and separated Catholic brothers and sisters because they are hurting,” said Veola Burchett, director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Marriage and Family Life.
“Divorce and separation can bring about isolation. Families and friends, without meaning to, will choose sides sometimes, so an important support group is lost. When Catholics marry, the Church promises to help support them. This is our obligation as members of the Church – to support without judgement,” said Burchett, inviting people to participate in the retreat.
“Some marriages end with a whimper. A growing apart. How did we as a church not provide help for the couple to get back on track? Some marriages need to end due to violence. We, as a church, need to ask if we were complicit in any way. Some marriages end because someone or something else takes priority over the spouse and family,” Burchett said.
Reminding people that  no one goes into a marriage thinking they will end up divorced, “a divorce or separation is like a death in that there is loss of family structure, a need for all parties to start to rebuild a new life,” she said.
Because the Church holds up the ideal and goal of a lifelong secure marriage, many people who get divorced “feel like they failed, and will stop going to church,” Burchett said. “We need to call them back, but first we need to offer understanding and healing.”
The virtual retreat is a good opportunity for people to find the road to healing, she said. “I’m especially pleased it will simultaneously be given in Spanish. The virtual aspect is great in that people can be in their own homes. I would suggest that, if possible, [those attending] arrange for childcare, just as they would have for a face-to-face retreat. Have easy meals prepared ahead of time.”
The retreat presenters include author John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus); Fr. Roger Gustafson, pastor of St. Hilary Parish and administrator of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Sausalito; Fr. Al Groskopf, pastoral minister at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos; Dr. Ann Vano, a licensed clinical psychologist; and Vince Frese, author of Divorced. Catholic. Now What? 
The virtual retreat, which will be bilingual English/Spanish, offers to people an opportunity to “learn how you can find love and joy again,” according to its website. It is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, Sept. 11-12. For information or to register, visit A donation of $20 is suggested.

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