by Tom Racunas
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens” (Eccl 3:1).
For Patty Karr, the appointed time had finally come. Her parents divorced when she was 17 years old. Back then, her family didn’t talk about it. Back then, there was no therapy. Back then, nobody reached out, not even anyone from her parish.
Even though her parents were granted an annulment, she could not be a part of the process and no one ever asked how she felt about it.
For nearly 40 years, Karr has been living with the pain of the wounds she suffered from the divorce. The pain resurfaces particularly as she navigates the dynamics of two households — her father’s and his wife’s, and her mother’s.
“Every time I go home, I still have to tiptoe around certain issues. I still have to deal with the pain. The wounds reopen,” she explained. “They are the wounds of silence. No one wants to talk about it.”
Karr’s husband Paul said that as the son-in-law of divorced parents, he has to walk with Patty through the aftermath of the divorce.
“Patty’s dad (now deceased) never got over it,” he said. “He would bristle at the mention of his ex-wife’s name. I also began to understand why, in our marriage, certain things would get Patty upset.”
So, indeed, the time had come for Karr when she heard about a retreat called Life-Giving Wounds. Life-Giving Wounds is a Catholic ministry to adult children of divorce or separation. The Karrs, who have been married 34 years and are parishioners of Holy Spirit in Overland Park, attended the first retreat held in the archdiocese last February. The retreat was sponsored by the archdiocesan marriage and family life office.
“Attending the retreat was the first time I felt that someone got me,” said Patty. She didn’t have to explain herself to others because they had been carrying the same wounds that she had.
“I realized that we can be a better witness because of our experience,” she added. “Our experience becomes a life-giving presence to others.”
Brad Dupont, lead consultant for the office, is also a child of divorced parents.
Life-Giving Wounds was brought here, he said, because “in talking to others, it is obvious there is a great need for healing. Children of divorce have not had a voice. Divorce leaves a big wound and the church wants to accompany them in their suffering and in their healing. Life-Giving Wounds provides a path to greater healing in Christ.”
A second Life-Giving Wounds retreat will be held Jan. 12–14, 2024, at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The retreat begins Friday night at 7 p.m. and ends on Sunday at 3 p.m. The format includes six witness talks, including one on marriage by the Karrs, a time for journaling and “no-obligation-to-share” discussion groups.
The weekend includes Mass, confession and eucharistic adoration. A licensed counselor will be present for those participants who may want to have a private session. After the retreat, ongoing support will be maintained through groups, a newsletter, blogs, books, programs and spiritual direction.
The cost of the retreat is $150, which includes meals and all retreat materials. Room accommodations are available at the pastoral center for $50 per night for a single room or $35 per night for a shared room. To register, go online to: www.archkck.org/lgw. Registration deadline is Jan. 8, 2024.
If cost is an issue for local parishioners, scholarships are available. Donations to help continue Life-Giving Wounds in the archdiocese would be appreciated. Any donation made will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Catholic Marriage Initiative. For more information, contact Dupont by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (913) 647-0301