Talks, workshops slated for March 18 at Christ the King

By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

The Bible is full of stories, and Father Michael P. Galuppi has a particular sort of tale in mind for his presentation to people who are separated and divorced.

Father Galuppi will ask the attendees to search their Bible for stories involving people who encounter challenges and come through them “stronger, wiser, more whole.

“So my hope is to introduce them to some of the scriptural persons and situations … that they can later … refer back to,” he said.

The event, called “Rise: Annual Day of Renewal for Separated and Divorced,” is scheduled for Saturday, March 18, at Christ the King Retreat House and Conference Center in Syracuse. The word “Rise” is based on this quotation: “In the name of Jesus Christ, rise and walk” (Acts 3:6).

Father Galuppi offered Mass at the end of one of the annual retreats, but this will be his first time presenting.

The pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Endicott, he will speak on this theme: Faith empowers us to rise to a hopeful new beginning. He said he will “really try to bring this theme alive through the figures of Scripture.”

One such figure might be the widow whom Elijah the Tishbite meets in 1 Kings 17. “Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die,” the widow tells Elijah. But she follows Elijah’s instructions, and “she had enough to eat for a long time—he and she and her household.”

The day will include small-group sessions and workshops on these topics: “Healing Commitments,” “Up, Up and Away,” “Helping Our Children,” and “Creating a Tavola of Your Life.”

Supervising the hour-long Tavola workshop will be Sister Anne Marie Saphara, OSF, a graphic artist in the communications office of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse.

A Tavola is a series of images based on medieval depictions of Saint Clare of Assisi and St. Francis of Assisi. During her formation for her religious ministry, Sister Anne Marie created a Tavola as an exercise.

She has predrawn the outlines of each Tavola’s eight squares that the participants will fill in with major scenes from their lives. They can either draw inside the squares or write. It is a “little bit of reflection, like journaling but through images,” Sister Anne Marie said.

“You can think back,” she said. “What was important to me? What did I do as a kid that stayed with me my whole life?” The exercise makes people think about their life so far and where they are going. “We’re just listening ears,” she said of the workshop presenters. “Anybody wants to talk — I’ll listen.”

All of the day’s participants will “come away with a clear sense of renewal and confidence,” said Deacon Dean Brainard, ministry coordinator for Outreach for Separated and Divorced within the diocesan Family/Respect Life Office. It is a full day “packed with great value,” which includes fellowship, practical resources, and wonderful food and refreshments, he said.

The day can lead to even more benefits if the participants go on to join one of the diocesan support groups for people who are separated or divorced. The support groups meet a couple of time a month.

Faith is the foundation of the renewal day, Deacon Brainard said, because it helps people rise above difficult circumstances. Some people are sad and broken, some are looking for more hope, and some are already showing some resolve, he said.

“We meet them right where they are in that journey,” Deacon Brainard said. “They’re walking through this period in their life, and we meet them right where they are.”

Christ the King, in fact, is an ideal spot for a walk. Attendees will view the many walkways and uplifting gardens.

Deacon Brainard will show video clips from the hit movie “Up!” as he encourages the attendees to “embrace the adventure” that is out there waiting for them.

“Adventure” is an appropriate word, he said, because the term embodies “a lot of drama, some scary points, some suspense. Isn’t that what life has in it, especially when you get into a difficult circumstance?”

The annual event “does lead to people smiling and laughing,” Deacon Brainard said.  “Maybe for the first time in the journey, they can see hope and light, whereas maybe before they could never see that.” In the small-group sessions, the attendees will be able to see the strength, hope, and courage of their peers, he said.

Whatever their difficulty at the moment, “with the help of their faith, we’re going to help them navigate it,” Deacon Brainard added.

If you go

What: “Rise: Day of Renewal for the Separated and Divorced”

When: Saturday, March 18, 2017

Where: Christ the King Retreat House and Conference Center, 500 Brookford Road, Syracuse

Keynote speaker: Father Michael P. Galuppi, pastor, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Endicott

Workshop topics: “Healing Commitments,” “Up, Up and Away,” “Helping Our Children,” “Creating a Tavola of Your Life”

Workshop speakers: Maria Santana; Annamary Zappia; Sister Anne Marie Saphara, OSF; Deacon Dean Brainard

Priests: 10-minute slots to talk one-on-one with a priest

Fee: $45 registration includes delicious lunch, fellowship, and workshops of your choice. Scholarships available for all who want to attend.

Register online:

Mail-in registration: Make out $45 check to Family/Respect Life and mail to Deacon Dean Brainard, 417 Deerfield Road, #4, East Syracuse, N.Y., 13057

Contact: Deacon Dean Brainard,
(315) 472-6754, or

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