CATHOLIC'S DIVORCE SURVIVAL GUIDE: 12-WEEK COURSE

The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide was created to bring hope and healing to divorced and separated Catholics. With the help of counselors, theologians, and priests, you can go from pain and loneliness to hope and healing. Practical advice meets pastoral care, with the help of experts and others who have suffered through divorce. As they witness to their pain and to the redemptive power of Christ, you will laugh, cry, and identify with their journey from heartache to healing.

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Beginning Experience

"A weekend away for a lifetime of change.” The "Beginning Experience" weekend event is designed for those who are widowed, separated, or divorced and offers help for the heartache of finding oneself alone again, anew. For more information, view the weekend events...

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Bi-Monthly Support Groups

The Ministry to the Separated and Divorced offers outreach, support and a caring presence during this difficult and stressful time. We inform and educate persons about the grieving process, personal coping skills, Church teachings, and information regarding annulments through ongoing, bi-monthly support groups within a Catholic environment. Each group meets for an hour and a half. Group sessions allow participants to vent, receive support related to any ongoing crises, and participate in the topic of discussion for that day.

Topics covered in group sessions include:

  • Loss and the grieving process
  • Group dynamics and process
  • Domestic violence
  • Parenting during a divorce
  • Catholic teaching on divorce, and annulments

Goals for support groups are to foster:

  • A supportive atmosphere that will enable the participants to recognize and activate their own talents, capabilities and untapped potential.
  • Personal growth, self-knowledge, and spiritual development.
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem.

Leadership Training

Group Leadership Training is offered to prepare caring participants to assume leadership positions in this ministry. People from all ethnicities, cultures and neighborhoods with personal experience of divorce, or sensitivity to divorce issues are encouraged to apply, as are professional counselors or social workers.

Group facilitators are trained: They must complete an intensive 32-hour group leadership training, comprised of easily understood material and hands on experiential exercises. It provides step-by-step instruction and all the knowledge and skills needed to implement the archdiocesan support group program in local parish communities.

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Participants will also learn:

  • Communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • Relaxation and meditation skills

Upcoming training programs will be announced and listed in the “News” section at the top of this webpage. For questions about upcoming events, contact Carmen Noschese at (646) 794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Volunteers

Volunteering in this ministry offers opportunities to:

  • Turn your hard learned life experience, talents and skills into service to others.
  • Be a vital part of the Church community by connecting with people in need.
  • Find companionship, friendship, and a sense of purpose and mission.
  • Reinforce your Catholic values and way of life.
  • Make a real difference in people’s lives by helping others to love themselves again, trust again, and believe again.
  • Share the loving and healing power of Jesus with others.
  • Experience a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from helping others.

For more information about volunteering in this ministry, contact Carmen Noschese at (646) 794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Please note: This office works under the guidance and leadership of the Vicar General, Monsignor (Msgr.) Gregory Mustaciuolo.

Weekend Events

Retrouvaille

Our office also supports the efforts of Retrouvaille (which means “rediscovery”). Retrouvaille is a weekend program with follow-ups, for couples whose marriage is in serious difficulty or trouble and in jeopardy of ending (due to past or present addiction, adultery, or other grave issues), and who want to make it work.

The program offers the chance to rediscover yourself, your spouse, and a loving relationship in your marriage. It has a proven track record in successfully saving marriages. It is a Catholic program open to people of all faiths.

Retrouvaille weekends are held in the New York metropolitan area, in New Jersey, on Long Island, and in Connecticut. For more information, please visit the Retrouvaille website.

  • Retrouvaille weekends on Long Island.
    For more information on these weekends or to register, please call (800) 470-2230 or email Lisa & Neil DeStefano.
  • Retrouvaille weekends in northern New Jersey.
    For more information, please call Marie Ryan, Family Life Office – Diocese of Paterson, NJ, at (973) 777-8818. To register, please contact Pat & Roger at (201) 251-1031.
  • Retrouvaille weekends in Newark, NJ.
    For more information or to register, please call John & Karen Panariello at (732) 276-7695.
  • For additional information about weekends in New Jersey, please contact Fr. Claude Lenehan, OFM – Holy Cross Friary, Bronx, NY, at (718) 378-1170.
Beginning Experience

“A weekend away for a lifetime of change.” Designed for those who are Widowed, Separated, or Divorced. Help for the heartache of finding yourself alone again. For more information, download this brochure.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a divorced person receive Holy Communion?It is a common mistake to think that a divorced person can never receive Holy Communion. A divorce, in itself, does not preclude a person from receiving Holy Communion. Jesus Christ calls all people of all circumstances to Himself. Through conversion and renewal of mind and heart (cf. Romans 12:2), we encounter the Risen Lord anew. The ability of a divorced person to receive Holy Communion depends on several factors, addressed in the following questions. Ultimately, the ability to present oneself for receiving Holy Communion should be determined by consultation with one’s pastor.
  • Can a divorced person who has NOT remarried civilly receive Holy Communion?A divorce, in itself, is an evil that introduces disorder into the family and society. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society” (CCC #2385). Today, many divorces may result from the choice of only one spouse. The spouse who is actually responsible for the breakup of the marriage must, with contrition, repent and seek forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation before presenting oneself for receiving Holy Communion. On the other hand, a spouse innocent of the actual breakup has not transgressed the moral law and is not precluded from receiving Holy Communion for the divorce itself. The distinction between these states is summarized by the Catechism as: “There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage” (CCC #2386).
  • Can a divorced person who has remarried civilly receive Holy Communion?From the beginning, God created marriage to last. Jesus Christ reclaims this intention for His Church and the New Law (cf. Matthew 5:31-32). The Catechism explains, “The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. Between the baptized, ‘a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death'” (CCC #2382). Because of the indissolubility of marriage, remarried persons who are divorced from a previously valid marriage cannot present themselves to receive Holy Communion. Even should a civilly remarried person resolve their own conscience of the previous marriage, the previous marriage remains a public reality. A letter to the world’s bishops from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994 explains,

    “The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality.”

    A divorced person who has civilly remarried and has a sincere desire to receive Holy Communion should consult with his/her pastor. While no act of reverence or piety replaces the unity achieved with Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, divorced persons who have civilly remarried may choose to receive a simple blessing from a priest at the time of Communion, or may pray for the graces of “spiritual communion” with Jesus Christ during this time.

  • What should a divorced person who has civilly remarried do when unable to receive Holy Communion?God calls all persons to Himself (cf. Matthew 11:28, John 17:22). The celebration of Mass prefigures the wedding banquet awaiting all who hope in salvation won by Jesus Christ. Therefore, those who cannot receive Holy Communion are still invited and warmly welcomed to participate in Mass where they are nourished by the Word of God, and receive the graces inherent through the communal prayer of its liturgical worship. The parish is a home for all people who, together, hope in Jesus Christ and eternal life with Him.
  • If a civil remarriage has placed a serious obligation upon a divorced person (i.e. raising children born in the second marriage), will the Church accommodate for the obligation and allow the divorced person to receive Holy Communion?One unique situation occurs when a divorced person remarries civilly and bears children in the remarriage, thereby obligating himself/herself to raising the children. Though the civil remarriage remains an illicit union requiring the persons to repent and be converted, the persons in this remarriage may receive Holy Communion while remaining together if both of the following are satisfied: (1) Their pastor judges that scandal can be avoided (i.e. that the public is unaware that one or both of the persons are divorced from another marriage), and (2) they live together as “brother and sister” abstaining from any sexual relations. If either of these cannot be fulfilled, they should refrain from presenting themselves for receiving Holy Communion.

If you have any questions that are not answered above, please contact Carmen Noschese at (646) 794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Ministry Coordinator


Carmen Noschese, M.S., M.F.T.
Coordinator, Separated/Divorced Ministry
646.794.3194
carmen.noschese@archny.org

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