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Survivors of Divorce Healing Retreat

Adult children of divorce heal through ‘Life-Giving Wounds’

Last year, a team from the national Life-Giving Wounds Ministry (LGW) offered our first-ever diocesan retreat for the healing of emotional and spiritual wounds of adult children of divorce or separation.

The Life-Giving Wounds retreat is a unique opportunity for adults (18+) with divorced or separated parents to reflect intentionally on the wounds caused by their family’s breakdown, together with others who know this pain and are knowledgeable, compassionate retreat leaders. With the help of God, retreat attendees learn to see how their life-draining wounds can become a life-giving mission of love for themselves, their relationships, and others. There is a wealth of information about this ministry on the website

One of our LGW leaders, Gina Burns, shared why she is involved in this ministry. “There is a tendency for children of divorced parents to tell everyone that we’re okay. We’re strong and resilient, so please don’t worry about us. The truth is, we are the walking-wounded and often find it frightening to be vulnerable. This makes sustaining a healthy married relationship difficult and can impact many other areas of our lives. Through the grace of God, I am in a happy, healthy marriage, but it has been a hard road. Attending the Life-Giving Wounds retreat last year helped me understand why it has been so difficult for me to trust. I learned how to grieve what was lost and leave it in the past. Because this is an underserved demographic of our Church, adult children of divorce are uncomfortable about voicing their pain. Through this ministry, I hope to help many others find healing.”

The “path” of the retreat follows a Paschal journey through the pain (death) caused by their parent’s divorce or separation, uncovering and grieving various layers of the wound. Then, participants experience the joy (rising) that comes from accepting their deepest identity as beloved children of God and becoming more aware of Christ in their lives and wounds. Finally, they discover a way forward (going forth) to continue their healing and even help others in the midst of their suffering.

LGW leader Pat Minto shared, “My parents were divorced almost 50 years ago now, and so I can say with the certainty of time and hindsight that I wish I had reached the state of forgiveness that the retreat facilitates much sooner than I did. Christ is there for our healing no matter what, but we are here to help others discover that. I think the LGW retreat ministry is a beautiful and loving way to help other children of divorce to understand Our Lord’s love for us no matter the nature of our suffering.”

Matthew Peck, our LGW counselor, shared, “No one feels this unnaturalness of divorce like a child caught in the middle of it. There are many psychological and spiritual effects from a divorce that could lead a child astray, but there is only one thing needed to rise above these: Jesus. And we know that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God.’ None of us make it out of this life unwounded– we have a cross to bear, and when we take it and follow Him, our wounds are redeemed, and that instrument of our suffering becomes the cause of our joy.”

Elisa Larson, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral and one of our LGW leaders, said, “This retreat was so significant because it allowed me to realize that as an adult child of divorce, I will always face the wounds and scars from this loss in my life. But the LGW ministry is unique because, instead of letting this be a discouraging fact, they take this as an encouragement to continue to allow you to encounter the healing power of Christ and continue to experience the freedom of his restoration of these wounds. Today, the healing from this retreat continues to bear fruit in my life, helping restore and strengthen personal relationships. For this reason, I am honored to participate in this ministry as a leader, hoping that others may experience such healing for themselves and those they love.”

This year, we created our own Idaho-based team of leaders who experienced the retreat last year and are now working to offer this essential nationwide healing ministry. Our Idaho team is composed of Gina Burns, Pat Minto, Elisa Larson, Catholic therapist Matthew Peck, and Fr. Joshua Falce, parochial vicar of All Saints Catholic Church in Lewiston. Alex Wolfe, who works with the national LGW Team, will join us and help lead the retreat.

The Life-Giving Wounds Retreat will be held the weekend of November 3-5, 2023, at St. Paul’s Student Center at Boise State University. It will be a commuter retreat for participants. Several meals will be provided during the weekend. Hotel information can be found on the registration website below. Scholarships are available. If you are an adult child of divorce seeking spiritual healing, the LGW team encourages you to attend this healing weekend.

Jay Wonacott

For more information, please contact Jay Wonacott at 208-350-7535 or

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FAX: (208) 342-0224

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