In response to Pope Francis’ appeal for “a ministry to care for those whose marital relationship has broken down” and in light of the Year of the Family, the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis will sponsor a “Hope, Healing and Outreach” workshop for Catholics who are separated or divorced and those who minister to them.

The workshop is scheduled for Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. John Vianney Parish in South Burlington.

Lisa Duffy, Catholic author, speaker and divorce recovery expert from South Carolina, will be the keynote speaker for the workshop.

Also presenting will be Father Luke Austin, judicial vicar of the Tribunal of the Diocese of Burlington, and Deacon Phil Lawson, executive director of evangelization, catechesis, divine worship, marriage and family and respect life for the Diocese.

“Pope Francis was very forthright in his document, ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ which helped inspire this Year of the Family, about both the beautiful ideal of family life as well as the challenges and trials that are often present,” Deacon Lawson said. “[The pope] made a strong appeal for the Church to more intentionally walk with families who have experienced brokenness, especially in separation and divorce.”

“Divorce is not only a crisis in our society, it is a crisis within the Church,” Duffy emphasized. “Many Catholics who find themselves divorced, especially those who are forced into this situation, need compassion, support and accurate answers to the critical questions they face. Oftentimes, these men and women feel they are suffering alone.”

The goal of her workshop is to help parish leaders, whether clergy or lay people, discover concrete and effective ways to bridge the gap between the divorced community within the Church and the healing that can take place through the sacraments, participation in parish life and the annulment process.

Duffy, who experienced an unwanted divorce in the early 1990s, has nearly 20 years of personal experience helping people rebuild their lives after divorce, and she has instituted the “Journey of Hope” program for Catholic divorce support groups in parishes throughout the United States and in Canada.

Among the talks to be presented at the workshop are: Divorced, Catholic, Now What?; Six Keys to Healing After Divorce; Merciful Love: Three Steps to Finding Forgiveness After Divorce; and I Need You! (Helping Divorced Catholics Discover God’s Plan for Their Lives).

There is no cost for the workshop. Priests, deacons, parish staff, directors of religious education, lay people and anyone affected by divorce are encouraged to attend.

To register, contact Lori Daudelin at 802-658-6110 ext. 1131 or ldaudelin@vermontcatholic.org.

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