(1) Starting a Support Group for Separated and Divorced Catholics

Catholic Divorce Ministry



The purpose of this toolkit is to assist parish leaders to be part of the ministry of outreach to those in their community who are separated or divorced.


     Our diocese is affiliated with the Catholic Divorce Ministry (CDM) of the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics (NACSDC).  Endorsed by the USCCB, this group has been committed since 1974 to advance hope and healing in those who experience the loss of a relationship due to divorce.


     Divorced Catholics face a unique set of challenges as they try to live out their lives as Christ commanded. A concern shared by the Church herself:

Toward Christians who live in (divorce), and who keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separate from the Church, in whose whole life they can and must participate as baptized persons…CCC 1651.


     CDM recognizes that the members of our parish communities who have experienced separation and divorce, through their vulnerability, courage, and patient endurance, serve as a witness to Christ and his redeeming grace. This ministry offers support in coping with the grief that comes with separation, divorce and the issues of single parenthood. Spiritual and education opportunities are available through the programs of CDM.


Roles and Responsibilities

     To start a support group ministry it is necessary that at least two people who have experienced divorce be willing to form a leadership team. They need to be aware that divorce recovery takes two to five years for adults and even longer depending on the length of the marriage or other circumstances. The leaders must be in a stage of recovery. Others willing to help can minister as part of a team doing publicity work, facilitating registrations and offering hospitality. The team needs to commit to a 10 or 13 week program and follow the outline of the published material.


     A parish may choose to provide accommodations for other spiritual events such as a mass or prayer service for CDM.  The CDM coordinators will plan and coordinate liturgies with parish leadership.


     Training of facilitators for parish support groups is held yearly in the diocese.  For information, please contact Carol and Deacon Tom Jennings, coordinators of CDM at 856.663.8166 or email catholicdivorceministry@camdendiocese.org.


     Toolkit #2 provides a detailed outline of the essential characteristics of a facilitator for a leadership team.  The goal is to establish and train a pastoral group that will facilitate a support program in each county of the diocese. There is a need in Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic and Salem counties for support groups.


Expected Resources

     The cost to implement a support group is minimal and depends on the program chosen by the leadership team in conjunction with the advice of the pastor and other parish spiritual life ministers. The coordinators of the diocesan CDM will provide the training for each participant and a folder with resources for continual formation in the role of facilitating.