Program’s next 12-week session begins Feb. 4 in Lincoln
Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) - When Father Sean Kilcawley was on his first assignment as a priest, a man approached him looking for resources to help him through a recent divorce.
At the time, the man wasn’t able to be connected with other Catholics going through the same situation, so he joined a support group at a local Methodist Church.
This incident, along with his father’s experience with divorce, inspired Father Kilcawley to bring “Surviving Divorce: Hope and Healing for the Catholic Family” to Lincoln. The 12-week program was developed by Rose Sweet to help Catholics through the pain of divorce by encouraging healing through the sacraments.
Topics covered during the program include anger, guilt, grief, children, declarations of nullity, remarriage, and much more.
The next 12-week session, held every Monday, will begin Feb. 4.
Vicky Sohl attended the first session of the class in 2014 and was asked to return as a facilitator. Now, she helps to lead meetings with Mike Timmins, who also went through the program.
Sohl had gone through a divorce two years prior to taking the class and had received a declaration of nullity. She thought that taking the class would allow her to help others in similar situations, but it was in going through the program that she realized that she needed to be there for her own healing.
“I was still really hurting and really angry,” Sohl said, “but a lot of my anger was less about my ex-spouse and more about my situation.”
It was in going through the program that Sohl was able to resolve some of the things that were still troubling her, and find a community of people to support her.
Father Kilcawley said, “With this program people do have a place to go and the people who have gone through the program are able to help others who have gone through something similar. These people are then able to bring the healing process to their families.”
Sohl estimated that each 12-week session has an average of four to five people. She said that the smaller class sizes allow the participants to get to know one another better.
“Some attendees are new to divorce, and some have gone through it years ago,” Sohl said. “The common theme is that everyone is still struggling in some way.”
Each meeting is scheduled for an hour and a half. First, participants watch a 30-minute video then have time for discussion, which is facilitated by Sohl and Timmins.
Sohl said, “I think there is a greater chance for you to heal if you are talking to other people about what you’re going through. We’re not there to give counseling, we’re there to encourage each other.”
This is why Sohl would describe the program as more of a community than a support group.
“It’s easy to feel like an outsider in the Church if you’ve gone through a divorce, and it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.”
After watching participants progress through Surviving Divorce, Sohl has seen them come away with a lot more peace, and the knowledge that they can live full and rich lives.
“They know they’re not the only ones struggling,” she said, “and a lot of them become friends outside the class.”
Sohl hopes that Surviving Divorce gives people encouragement to continue the healing process through diocesan events, describing the program as a stepping stone to further healing.
“I’m grateful to the lay people who have stepped up to share this ministry,” Father Kilcawley said, “and I really hope it spreads throughout the diocese.”
To register for Surviving Divorce contact the Family Life Office at 402-473-0620 or learn more online.