Family Life Education Office sponsors Day of Renewal for Separated and Divorced

By Claudia Mathis
Sun staff writer

Separated and divorced people who attend the annual Day of Renewal on March 13 are certain to feel uplifted and supported in their personal journeys of healing by the end of the day.

“You come away with a sense that you are not alone and that you are loved by God and by other people,” said Karen Redmond, five-time attendee of the Day of Renewal. “It’s wonderful and you learn so much. The people that attend are very supportive of one another.”

The annual event will be held at Christ the King Retreat and Conference Center in Syracuse from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The day will begin with Father Joseph Phillips, director of the diocesan Family Life Education Office, presenting the keynote address, “A New Day of Restored Hope.”

Following Father Phillips’ keynote address, four workshops will focus on how to begin the process of healing and growth. The “Beginning Again Amidst Shattered Dreams,” “Annulment as a Healing Process,” “Hanging Onto Jesus in Times of Crisis” and “Next Time I Want It to Be Better” will be offered.

Redmond said one of the most powerful things she learned from participating in the Day of Renewal is about children’s view of divorce. She attended a workshop at which a panel of children gave their perspective on divorce. “I am the sole caregiver of two teenaged boys,” she said. “What I learned helped me very much. I learned how to help my sons.”

During the “Beginning Again Amidst Shattered Dreams” workshop, Cindy Fallon, coordinator of separated/divorced ministries, will talk to the newly-separated/divorced about ways to cope with overwhelming grief.

Claire Johnson, from the diocesan Marriage Tribunal Office, in the “Annulment as a Healing Process” workshop, will explain what an annulment is, how the process works and how it can help to heal.

In the “Hanging Onto Jesus in Times of Crisis” workshop, Chris Goral, spiritual director and campus pastor of Vineyard Church, will discuss some practical ways to access the peace that God offers during times of crisis.

Employing music as a tool, author and counselor Ron Heilman will explore what happens in intimate relationships in the “Next Time I Want it to be Better” workshop. He will explore why some relationships fail and how to recognize and achieve a healthy relationship.

After a break to facilitate small group discussions, a luncheon will be served to those attending.

After lunch, participants will have the opportunity to choose from four workshops: “Staying on Course,” “I’m Just Worried About the Kids,” “I Want to See a Priest” and “Am I Ready for a New Relationship?”

The “Staying on Course” workshop, based on Debbie Ford’s book, Spiritual Divorce, will help to facilitate the healing process. Dean Brainard, a support group facilitator, will lead it.

Parents will share and learn of common experiences and gain some insight on how to navigate through the difficult time of divorce to a happier future for themselves and their children during the “I’m Just Worried About the Kids” workshop. Anne Hughes, elementary special education teacher and divorced parent, will lead it.

During the “I Want to See a Priest” segment, divorced/separated people will have an opportunity for a 15-minute individual appointment with Father Phillips. It is limited to the first five people who sign up.

In the “Am I Ready for a New Relationship?” workshop, Fallon will share some of the pitfalls of premature dating and give practical tips on how to prepare so one is less likely to get hurt again.

After a short break, the event will conclude with a liturgy by Father Phillips.

Brainard is looking forward to the Day of Renewal. “I’ve been at least three times,” he said. “Each time I go back, I learn something new because I’ve been in a different place every time. It’s an important part of my healing.”

Divorced for five years, Brainard said the first time he attended the Day of Renewal, he was recently divorced and he was looking for a welcoming environment to share his experiences. “I found it rewarding,” he said. “It’s a great step in anyone’s healing. I would encourage anyone to attend.”

For more information, call (315) 472-6753, ext. 5 or visit

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