Hope and Healing

Nov. 11-17, 2004
Hope and Healing
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
Retreat Offers Separated and Divorced an Opportunity to Overcome Pain

SKANEATELES –– Father Frederick Pompei will be the keynote speaker at the Separated and Divorced Retreat scheduled at Stella Maris Retreat House on Dec. 3 – 5. Father Pompei was ordained in the Syracuse Diocese in 1966 and has worked in parish and campus ministries, Marriage Encounter, national separated and divorced ministries and the charismatic renewal movement. Since 1977, Father Pompei has traveled to Italy, Spain and England to present seminars and retreats focusing on healing and enhancing relationships with God. The first retreat took place four years ago to provide a vehicle for healing and nurturing for individuals who found themselves in the separated or divorced grief process. Attendees range from people who have been recently separated to those who have been divorced for many years. This year’s theme is “Working Toward a Joyful Life –– Hope and Healing in the Midst of Brokenness.”

It has been two years since Cathy Truillo’s separation/divorce process began. She attended last year’s retreat after her mother, Kathy Colligan, the family life director for the Southern Region of the diocese, told her about the weekend. The retreat helped her through the shock, denial and feelings of total hopelessness she was experiencing. “When you are going through such heavily emotional experiences, you need the time to heal that works best for you,” said Truillo. “There are a lot of chances to do that at Stella Maris.” This year, Truillo will give a witness talk on how the retreat has helped her in her journey of healing.

“I’m very committed to my Catholic faith,” said Truillo. “I never thought in a million years I would be separated or divorced. I began by asking God why He wouldn’t answer my prayers. We needed a miracle to make our marriage work.” Now, Truillo said she has gone through a process of accepting the way things are and understanding where God is in the whole process. “I would never have survived this without God’s grace, intervention and protection,” said Truillo. “I had to heal myself in order to help my four children,” she said. “Children take their cues from their mom. If the mom is healed, the children will heal more over time.” Rick Susko has been attending the retreat for three years. He will be talking to the attendees about the spiritual growth they can receive through the retreat process. “There are a lot of positives that come out of the retreat,” said Susko. “The main thing is that there are a lot of people in the same boat as you are. You are not going through this alone.”

“When I went to my first retreat, I was somewhat skeptical,” said Susko. “I didn’t know how regimented it would be. But you’re not committed to being in any one place at any time. You do not need to attend the meetings if you don’t choose to,” he said. “You have plenty of time to be by yourself. It’s a great place to begin the healing process.” Truillo said that in addition to suffering feelings of shock, embarrassment and shame, she also worried about being accepted in the church, which was the most important thing in her life. While the church believes in the permanence of marriage, it also realizes that not all marriages last and recognizes that divorce is a very painful experience. The church reaches out in compassion and support to all who are separated and divorced. Susko said that he has found the church is more accepting of its separated and divorced members than it may have been in the past. “The church has loosened their policy. You are no longer looked at as an outcast in society.”

“It’s a gentle, non-threatening environment,” added Truillo. “I want people to know that there is a place for them in the church. They are accepted. There are many folks in the same situation and we gain strength, hope and encouragement from each other.”

The weekend retreat will include a healing Mass, reconciliation, several keynote speakers, meals and accommodations. The cost is $130. For additional information contact Pat Ennis, Syracuse Diocese Family Life coordinator at (315) 472-6732, ext. 320 or Cindy Fallon, retreat coordinator, at (315) 363-2972.

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