COLORADO SPRINGS. For people who experienced their parents’ divorce as children, the impact on their adult relationships cannot be underestimated, said Dan Meola, who along with his wife, Bethany, founded the Life-Giving Wounds ministry.
The Meolas will give a presentation at Holy Apostles Parish on May 10 from 6-8 p.m. Advance registration is required by contacting Christian Meert at Christian@CatholicMarriagePrep.com.
“We talk about five core wounds experienced by adult children of divorce,” he said. “These wounds are shown in self-protective behaviors, looking for exit strategies, pushing people away, an inability to trust and a huge hesitancy to enter into marriage.”
“(Adult children of divorce) often feel caught between love and anger,” said Bethany Meola. “They struggle with forgiveness and how to honor their parents despite the pain that they’ve gone through.”
Life-Giving Wounds began in 2015 while Dan Meola — himself an adult child of divorce — was working at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. He helped develop a three-day retreat in the Archdiocese of Washington that was based on a program called “Recovering Origins.” In 2017, he presented a workshop about healing the wounds of adult children of divorce and separation at the annual conference of the National Association of Family Life Ministers. Realizing that there was no other program of its kind in existence, the family life ministers encouraged him to form a retreat team to spread the ministry nationwide.
In 2020, Life-Giving Wounds became an official non-profit organization and increased its online presence during the pandemic. This year, the Meolas hope to increase the number of Life-Giving Wounds chapters around the country.
Chapters are led by teams consisting of a coordinator, a chaplain and a psychological advisor. Together with three peers, who are adult children of divorce who in the healing process, the teams can run support groups, retreats and other events for adult children of divorce.
“This is a peer-based ministry that helps people develop their spiritual lives, live morally and virtuously, and grow in their understanding of redemptive suffering,” Dan Meola said. “Healing is a lifelong journey, and it is very helpful for people to get connected and form peer friendships to support each other in this process.”
The psychological advisor for the team can provide counseling referrals to members of the group, Meola said.
“(Life-Giving Wounds) is not counseling. This program complements (individual) counseling,” he said.
A major goal of the support groups is to mentor adult children of divorce in developing skills such as discernment in relationships, healthy dating practices, learning to trust, and the true meaning of forgiveness, he said. Ultimately, though, the goal of the program is to convey the importance of prayer and the sacraments in building healthy relationships, he said.
“Trust starts by finding Jesus alone, because no human relationship will fill that need,” he said.
For more information, visit www.lifegivingwounds.org.