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Separated and Divorced

Separated and Divorced

A large number of Catholic marriages end in divorce. It is a tumultuous experience that creates a major upheaval in the family unit and in turn, affects the entire parish community. 

We provide the outreach, support and caring presence during this difficult time. Only the Shepherd of Souls, who burns with love for all persons, heals. Our programs inform and educate persons on grieving, personal coping skills, Church teachings and annulments. 

Surviving Divorce: 12-Week Catholic Course

This course was created to bring hope and healing to divorced and separated Catholics. With the help of counselors, theologians, and priests, you can go from pain and loneliness to hope and healing. Practical advice meets pastoral care, with the help of experts and others who have suffered through divorce. As they witness to their pain and to the redemptive power of Christ, you will laugh, cry, and identify with their journey from heartache to healing.

For more information, contact Carmen Noschese, MS MFT at 646-794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Bi-Monthly Support Groups

The Ministry to the Separated and Divorced offers outreach, support and a caring presence during this difficult and stressful time. We inform and educate persons about the grieving process, personal coping skills, Church teachings, and information regarding annulments through ongoing, bi-monthly support groups within a Catholic environment. Each group meets for an hour and a half. Group sessions allow participants to vent, receive support related to any ongoing crises, and participate in the topic of discussion for that day.

Topics covered in group sessions include:

  • Loss and the grieving process
  • Group dynamics and process
  • Domestic violence
  • Parenting during a divorce
  • Catholic teaching on divorce, and annulments

Support groups are designed to foster:  supportive atmosphere that enables participants to recognize and activate their own talents, capabilities and untapped potential; undergo personal growth and spiritual development; and improve self-confidence and self-esteem.

View our active support groups by region below:

Dutchess County

Mt. Alvernia Retreat Center

158 Delavergne Avenue

Wappingers Falls, NY 12590

Group meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday from 7:00  p.m. to 8:30pm. For more information, contact Cathy at 845-546-0268 or Katers59@Yahoo.com.

Manhattan

Church of St. Paul the Apostle

415 West 59th Street

New York, NY 10023

Group Info

Group meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8pm. For more information, contact Jane at 646-794-3194 or st.paulssdc@yahoo.com.

 

St. Thomas More

65 East 89th Street

New York, NY 10128

Group Info

Group meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, contact Jane at 212-876-7718, or stthomasmoresdc@yahoo.com 

Orange County

Church of St. John the Evangelist

71 Murray Avenue

Goshen, NY 10924

Group Info

Group meets every Tuesday 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. For more information, call Helen at 845-325-0719.

Putnam County

Church of St. James the Apostle

16 Gleneida Avenue

Carmel, NY 10512

Group Info

Group meets every 1st and 3rd Friday from 7:00 to  9:00 p.m. at the Parish House. For more information, contact Denis at 845-612-9720 or Pat at 845-225-2079.

Rockland County

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

128 Parrot Road

West Nyack, NY  10994

Group Info

For more information, call Sr. Pat at 845-634-4957.

Staten Island

St. Ann’s Church

101 Cromwell Avenue

Staten Island, New York 10304

Group Info

From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.. For more information, contact Anne-Louise DePalo at 347-282-9118 or aldp@aldpLaw.net.

Sullivan County

There are no groups in this county at this time. For more information, or to begin a group, contact Carmen Noschese at 646-794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Ulster County

Our Lady of Fatima Church

1250 Rt. 32

Plattekill, NY 12568

Group Info

For more information, contact Lisa Frank at Imfrankmt@aol.com or 845-853-2858.

Westchester County

St. Augustine Church

18 Cherry Avenue

Larchmont, NY 10538

Group Info

Contact Ann at 914-834-1220 or abetkowski@staugustineny.org.

 

St. Augustine Church

381 No. Highland Avenue

Ossining, NY 10562

Group Info

Contact Deacon Timothy Slominski at 914-646-7718, dates to be determined. 

 

St. Patrick’s Church

Parish Center Hall

137 Moseman Road

Yorktown Hts., NY 10598

Group Info

Group typically meets the 3rd Saturday of the month from 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. For more information, contact Joyce at 914- 450-8606 or jschelle23@aol.com, or the rectory at 914-962-5050.

Learn More

Leadership Training

Group Leadership Training is offered to prepare caring participants to assume leadership positions in this ministry. People from all ethnicities, cultures and neighborhoods with personal experience of divorce, or sensitivity to divorce issues, are encouraged to apply, as are professional counselors or social workers.

Group facilitators are trained: They must complete an intensive 32-hour group leadership training comprising easily understood material and hands-on experiential exercises. Training provides step-by-step instruction and all the knowledge and skills needed to implement the archdiocesan support group program in local parish communities.

Participants will also learn:

  • Communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • Relaxation and meditation skills

For questions about upcoming trainings, contact Carmen Noschese at (646) 794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Volunteer

Volunteering in this ministry offers opportunities to:

  • Turn your hard-learned life experience, talents and skills into service to others
  • Be a vital part of the Church community by connecting with people in need
  • Find companionship, friendship, and a sense of purpose and mission
  • Reinforce your Catholic values and way of life
  • Make a real difference in people’s lives by helping others to love, trust and believe again
  • Share the loving and healing power of Jesus with others
  • Experience a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from helping others

For more information about volunteering in this ministry, contact Carmen Noschese at 646-794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Online Support Groups and Weekend Events
  • St. Raymond Nonnatus Foundation: For anyone struggling due to a divorce/separation in their family, there is a free, on-line “Webinar-like” support/sharing group. Sponsored by the St. Raymond Nonnatus Foundation for Freedom, Family, and Faith, the group meets every first Tuesday from 8-9pm and is on-going. Prayer, reflection, guidance by Church teachings, and attended by a Mercedarian friar from the Order of Mercy and the organization’s director, the group allows for listening and [optional] sharing guided by an experienced facilitator.
  • Retrouvaille: Our office also supports the efforts of Retrouvaille (“rediscovery”). Retrouvaille is a weekend program with follow-ups for couples whose marriages are in serious difficulty or trouble and in jeopardy of ending (due to past or present addiction, adultery, or other grave issues), and who want to make it work. The program offers the chance to rediscover yourself, your spouse and a loving relationship in your marriage. It has a proven track record of saving marriages. It is a Catholic program open to people of all faiths. Retrouvaille weekends are held in the New York area in New Jersey, on Long Island and in Connecticut. 
  • Beginning Experience: A weekend away for a lifetime of change.” Designed to help those who are widowed, separated or divorced with the heartache of finding themselves alone.
FAQ

Can a divorced person receive communion? 

It is a common mistake to think a divorced person can never receive communion. A divorce, in itself, does not preclude a person from receiving communion. Jesus Christ calls all people to Himself, and through conversion and renewal of mind and heart (cf. Romans 12:2), we encounter the risen Lord anew. The ability of a divorced person to receive communion depends on several factors, addressed in questions below. Ultimately, the ability to present oneself for communion should be determined in consultation with one’s pastor.

Can a divorced person who has not remarried civilly receive communion? A divorce, in itself, is an evil that introduces disorder into the family and society. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “This disorder [divorce] brings grave harm to the [spouses], to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society” (CCC #2385).  If one spouse is responsible for the breakup of the marriage, he or she must, with contrition, repent and seek forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation before presenting oneself for holy communion. A spouse innocent of the actual breakup has not transgressed moral law and is not precluded from receiving communion because of  the divorce itself. The distinction between these states is summarized by the Catechism: “There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage” (CCC #2386).

Can a divorced person who has remarried civilly receive communion? From the beginning, God created marriage to last. Jesus Christ reclaims this intention for His Church and the New Law (cf. Matthew 5:31-32). The Catechism explains, “The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble …Between the baptized, ‘a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death’” (CCC #2382). 

Because of the indissolubility of marriage, remarried persons who are divorced from a previously valid marriage cannot present themselves for communion. Even should a civilly remarried person resolve their own conscience of the previous marriage, the previous marriage remains a public reality. A letter to the world’s bishops from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994 explains:

“The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality.”

A divorced person who has civilly remarried and has a sincere desire to receive communion should consult with his/her pastor. While no act of reverence or piety replaces the unity achieved with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, divorced persons who have civilly remarried may choose to receive a simple blessing from a priest at the time of communion or pray for the graces of “spiritual communion” with Jesus Christ during this time.

What should a divorced person who has civilly remarried do when unable to receive communion? 

God calls all persons to Himself (cf. Matthew 11:28, John 17:22). The celebration of Mass prefigures the wedding banquet awaiting all who hope in salvation won by Jesus Christ. Those who cannot receive communion are still warmly welcomed to participate in Mass where they are nourished by the Word of God and receive the graces inherent through the communal prayer of its liturgical worship. The parish is a home for all people who, together, hope in Jesus Christ and eternal life with Him.

If a civil remarriage has placed a serious obligation upon a divorced person (e.g.,  raising children born into it), will the Church allow the divorced person to receive communion? 

When a divorced person remarries civilly and bears children in the remarriage, thereby obligating himself/herself to raising the children, though the civil remarriage remains an illicit union requiring repentence and conversion, the persons in the remarriage may receive communion while remaining together if both of the following are satisfied: (1) Their pastor judges that scandal can be avoided (i.e., the public is unaware that one or both is divorced), and (2) they live together as “brother and sister” abstaining from sexual relations. If either of these cannot be fulfilled, they should refrain from presenting themselves for receiving communion.

If you have questions that are not answered above, please contact Carmen Noschese at 646-794-3194 or carmen.noschese@archny.org.

Contact Us

Carmen Noschese, Coordinator

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