“Everything is going to be OK,” is exactly what you do not say to a friend or loved one undergoing a divorce, says Rose Sweet, a Catholic author and speaker who has been through the pain of divorce herself.
“Don’t try to minimize the pain by saying that,” said Sweet in an April 4 interview with The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Sweet added that sometimes when well-meaning Catholics in ministry try to help individuals going through divorce “they focus on God loves you and everything’s going to be OK.”
She explained that it is more realistic to say, “You know what, this is horrible, and God forbid it might get even more horrible, but I’m here for you.”
At that moment, “(The person) wants to hear that they’re not alone,” she said.
Sweet authored 10 books on relationships including “The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide” and has appeared on Catholic radio and EWTN, as well as speaking at conferences – including the 2015 World Meeting of Families. She recently started serving as a “remote advocate” for diocesan tribunals to help individuals going through the declaration of invalidity (annulment) process.
“Everything I do, all of my programs, stem from my own personal experience of ‘I’m one of you; I’ve been there,’” said Sweet. “I went through that too.”
In order to best serve the people she encounters, Sweet has undergone education in the Catholic faith, pastoral training, therapy and counseling training, and also draws from the experience of running divorce support groups for more than 20 years.
“I’ve gained so much insight and gotten so much compassion for the human condition,” said Sweet. “At the same time I refuse to bend or whitewash the rules of the Church because they are for our good and healing and they bring life.”
Sweet is coming to western Kentucky on April 22 and 23 to discuss divorce and declarations of invalidity – also known as annulments – and to offer a one-day training in the “Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide” program, respectively.
Her presentations kick off an official divorce ministry in the Diocese of Owensboro – an initiative that came out of Bishop William F. Medley’s three-year Pastoral Plan goals.
The April 22 free event, which will be at SS. Joseph and Paul Parish Hall in Owensboro, begins with check-in at 6 p.m. Those encouraged to attend are the divorced and separated, plus anyone with friends or family who are divorced or separated.
Topics covered at this evening event will include the question of reception of Holy Communion, being remarried and in RCIA, having grown children who are divorced, and discussions of whether a declaration of invalidity (annulment) should be pursued.
Sweet will also dispel some myths surrounding the Catholic Church’s teachings on divorce, declarations of invalidity (annulments) and remarriage. She’ll be available for book signing and questions after the talk; her books and recommended resources will be available for sale.
The April 23 event is welcome to priests, deacons, religious men and women, directors of religious education and catechists who minister to the divorced and separated, or who are interested in doing so. This training equips Church ministers to start, run and lead a program for Catholics who are divorced or separated.
The event flyer states that the training “will help you understand what is going on in the hearts of people who are separated or divorced and how to meet their emotional needs, answer their tough questions, and let them know they are not alone.”
Registration is $40 for lunch, refreshments and training materials. Continuing education credits will be offered.
Both events are sponsored by the Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Family Life and the Tribunal.