Separated & Divorced Catholics featured on St. Gabriel Catholic Radio!
Listen in on our interview on St. Gabriel Catholic Radio live from the 2015 Columbus Catholic Men’s Conference, which took place on February 28, 2015!
BILL: Welcome back to St. Gabriel Catholic Radio’s live coverage of the 2015 Columbus Catholic Men’s Conference. My name is Bill Hinger, and I am joined by Keith Luscher, who is here in the diocese of Columbus and is part of and in charge of what we will find out here soon a ministry for separated and divorced Catholics of the Columbus diocese. Keith, welcome to the program.
KEITH: Great to be here this morning. Thanks so much.
BILL: Thank you for coming. Now, I went to the website and checked it out a little bit, and one of the headings, by the way it was very well done.
BILL: …is “Why is this Needed?” It seemed like the burning question, so I’d like to maybe start there…
KEITH: You know, that’s…I was just thinking about that this morning as we were listening to the speakers and Fr. Pavonka, he made and interesting comment about the largest segment of Christians, are protestants; the second: Catholics; third: former-Catholics.
KEITH: And it begs the question, the reality is that because of the Catholic Church holding to Truth about what marriage is, and how precious it is, and how God revers it and wants us to hold it up high. The pitfall of that is in the reality of the world we live in, for folks who are going through separation or are divorced, let’s be honest: because of the Catholic’s view on holding marriage so high, that creates a special challenge for those Catholics who unfortunately experience this trauma in their life. And it really is a trauma. If you haven’t been through this yourself, you don’t have a clue.
KEITH: And this is one of the driving factors that drives people away from the Church at a time when they need it the most.
BILL: Right. Yes.
KEITH: And that’s–one of the central points of our apostolate is Divine Mercy. Because when people go through this experience, they start to lose faith. They start to lose trust. But at the same time, one of the things that has driven people away from the Church when they go through this is because it’s just a lack of understanding of the Church’s position on this.
KEITH: There are so many mis-truths out there.
BILL: Well, I noticed that–you know–I don’t know if this is a true statement, but but I would say that nearly every Catholic family has probably either known someone in their family or close to their family who has experienced a divorce or separation.
KEITH: Indeed. Yeah.
BILL: And you know my awareness of it is it’s a very very painful thing to have happen in a family.
KEITH: Well, like I said, if you haven’t been through it yourself, you totally can’t imagine.
BILL: Yes. I noticed on the website that there’s a Catholic Divorce Survival Guide.
BILL: …and my understanding is that’s an actual program…
KEITH: Yeah. Actually really how we got started. Frankly, I’m with St. Catharine’s, and we–this whole apostolate got started when I came across the Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide, it’s a 12-part program that Rose Sweet developed. It’s published by Ascension Press.
KEITH: And I looked at it. And I couldn’t find really where it was being offered here in the diocese. After speaking with Rose Sweet over the phone, she actually was able to refer me to some people. Actually, in Grove City, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, they’ve been offering this program for two years!
BILL: Oh boy!
KEITH: Alright? So they’ve already started this ministry. They kind of got a jump-start. I just wanted to promote our program and I wanted to promote their program. I wanted to promote this program wherever it’s being offered in the diocese. That’s the point. You mentioned the website. It’s actually DivorcedCatholicColumbus.org, and it’s connected to a Meetup group. We’re just leveraging social media to get the word out, because unfortunately even though folks who put this program in place at their parishes, they don’t necessarily…they could do a better job of getting the word out.
BILL: Reaching out…
KEITH: And that’s the point of this apostolate, and we want to be able to promote this program. It’s a means to an end. Our mission is to provide pastoral comfort and create a pastoral community to those people who are going through this, whether it’s right now, or was five or ten years ago, to let them know that they are not alone. Their Church loves them, cares for them, embraces them, and is gonna walk through with them just the same way that we see one set of footprints in the sand.
BILL: That’s very nice. I was really impressed by the website. And it is DivorcedCatholicColumbus.org.
BILL: Now, with regards to the program and the Ascension Press, I noticed that you started that in parish, and you mentioned the whole pastoral care component .
BILL: And it kind of begged the question for me, as I was looking at the website, does the ministry have a chaplain for the ministry?
KEITH: The position is open.
BILL: The position is open okay. We will get the word out. We have sixty priests here today so…
KEITH: Well you know what the reality is, it’s a pastoral community of Catholic men and women, lay leaders and clergy. And I hope–we want to educate people about what their options are for annulments if they have actually had to go through a divorce. We want to get them the facts. I know so many people who just haven’t done it because they’re scared to death to take the first step. We need to hold their hand, but also guide them with Truth. The Church cannot reach out to this group and appease anybody by telling some people what they may want to hear. The Truth is always adhering–the Church is always adhering to Truth.
KEITH: And we support that, and we want to help the Church do that, but to do it with love and mercy.
BILL: Thank you, we are talking with Keith Luscher here of a relatively newer ministry here in the Columbus diocese.
KEITH: About two months, three months old.
BILL: Okay, so it’s very fresh, hot off the press. And I think you’re probably going to get a lot of traffic on the website. But, Keith is with St. Catharine’s parish here in Columbus. And you mentioned another parish that has this program–
KEITH: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, they’re offering it consistently.
BILL: And on your website I noticed there is this, you mentioned there this “Meetup” button, now is that for folks to either start say a chapter in their parish?
KEITH: Well, Meetup is a social network platform, just like Facebook or LinkedIn and it’s a platform for groups. Basically the point of the Meetup group, people can go to Meetup.com and search your group by interests and everything else. There was no group focused on divorced or separated Catholics. And the demand, the interest is there. But there was no group. So that’s what we’re trying to do. Our goal is to promote this program and get other diocese – or other parishes to offer this program and we want to help them. If there is a church in the diocese that is offering this program or some ministry to this group, we want to help them get the word out. Because it’s not going to do anybody any good if people don’t find out about it.
BILL: Right. Absolutely! Well, I thank you coming Keith. This has been very enlightening for me as well to know that this ministry exists out there, and to get the word out. But if people want more information, where can they go then? To the website?
KEITH: Just DivorcedCatholicColumbus.org. And they can send us an email, they can also find us on Meetup.com, and if you’re involved in your parish and offering some program that serves this group, we want to help you. That’s what we’re here for.
BILL: Okay. Wonderful!
KEITH: Thanks a bunch!
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