What Is Life-Giving Wounds?

“By His Wounds You Have Been Healed” - 1 Peter 2:24

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Mission

Our mission is to help adults from divorced and separated families of origin find deep spiritual healing. We do this by providing the conditions necessary for Christ to transform their life-draining wounds into life-giving resources of faith, hope, love, and joy for themselves, their relationships, and the Church.

We seek to accomplish this work of spiritual healing through establishing permanent diocesan and parish retreat ministries, small groups, and peer-to-peer friendship integrated within the community of parish life, as well as developing resources and offering presentations and consultations. We also seek to connect adult children of divorce and separation to married mentor couples, online social media communities, psychological counseling, and spiritual direction.

Ministries We Offer

  • Recovering Origins Retreat: a three-day healing retreat for adult children of divorce, developed by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, including the founder of Life-Giving Wounds Dr. Daniel Meola while he studied at the Institute. This retreat is led by our experienced traveling retreat team and designed as a starting point for ongoing diocesan or parish ministry to adult children of divorce.

  • Training for leaders: distance consultations and in-person trainings on how to establish and maintain a permanent diocesan or parish ministry for adult children of divorce; usually provided as part of a Recovering Origins retreat weekend, but can be set up independently as well.

  • Talks, presentations, and webinars on a variety of topics related to ministry for adult children of divorce and other topics.

Vision

  1. Make the spiritual healing of adults from divorced or separated families of origin a pastoral priority. Currently, ministry to adult children of divorce and separation is a glaring pastoral need in the Catholic Church. Practically no dedicated outreach or pastoral care exists for adults whose parents are divorced or separated, despite well-established evidence that the break-up of one’s parents can cause deep, lasting wounds that affect a person’s well-being on multiple levels. These men and women deserve the Church’s comfort, assistance, and love, not silence and avoidance. Life-Giving Wounds has the programs and vision that can help bring healing to these precious sons and daughters of God.

  2. Establish the Recovering Origins Retreat and Life-Giving Wounds small groups in every Catholic diocese. The nationwide presence of a dedicated retreat for adult children of divorce or separation, and follow-up small groups, will offer life-giving Catholic community for adult children of divorce or separation, and will help remedy the glaring pastoral need referenced above. Dioceses, parishes, and colleges can all be home bases for this ministry.

  3. Re-engage those who feel forgotten by the Church. It’s not uncommon for adult children of divorce – especially young adults – to abandon their faith or distance themselves from the Church in part because they feel the Church has been too silent about their wounds and hasn’t helped them enough. (For example, see “How Decades of Divorce Helped Erode Religion” in the Washington Post.) Life-Giving Wounds provides an invitation back to the Church by sharing the Father’s look of love and a practical way forward to deeper healing.   

  4. Strengthen marriages and families by healing wounds that can lead to relationship-harming beliefs and behaviors. Statistically, adult children of divorce are more likely themselves to divorce; we want to change that. Discovering God’s deep healing impacts not only individuals but also whole families and future generations. We hope to strategically partner with existing marriage mentorship networks to connect individuals, especially young adults and engaged couples, to mentor couples so that they can receive authentic witnesses of inspiring, faith-filled marriages.

  5. Cultivate evangelizing missionary disciples by inviting participants to share in our work. Adult children of divorce or separation who have found healing are tremendous witnesses to love in suffering and uniquely helpful to others on the same path. By proactively inviting some past participants to become leaders in their dioceses and parishes, in collaboration with local leaders, we hope to grow local ministries and provide witnesses to God’s healing power and love.

  6. Revitalize parishes by equipping them to be a place of healing for adults from divorced and separated families of origin, who in turn will evangelize others. Healing is attractive to others, and parishes that meet these needs will have many individuals able to witness, befriend, and support others on their pathway of spiritual healing.  

History of Life-Giving Wounds and Recovering Origins

Many people helped to develop the Recovering Origins program, out of which grew the Life-Giving Wounds ministry. Above all, these outreaches to adult children of divorce are the result of the initiative of the Holy Spirit, thanks be to God!

The initial idea and research funding for Recovering Origins came from Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who noted the fruitfulness of discussions about divorce from adult children of divorce themselves. In 2012, Anderson and other key thinkers and speakers participated in a three-day symposium at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C., entitled “Adult Children of Divorce: Recovering Origins.” Following the symposium, the John Paul II Institute, under the direction of Dr. Margaret McCarthy, led a group of scholars, priests, canon lawyers, and adult children of divorce to create the Recovering Origins program, an extended reflection on the wounds experienced by adult children of divorce in light of the “Our Father.”

At the time Recovering Origins was being developed, Daniel Meola was studying for his master’s and later PhD degrees at the John Paul II Institute and was one of the adult children of divorce who helped to create the program. In 2015, Daniel began full-time evangelization work at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., where he adapted the Recovering Origins program into a three-day retreat, under the direction and encouragement of Patrick Kelly, now the Deputy Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. The first retreat was piloted at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in 2015.  

In 2017, Daniel presented a workshop about healing the wounds of adult children of divorce to the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM). After this talk and the positive feedback received from many diocesan family life directors, it was clear that there was a tremendous need for pastoral programs like Recovering Origins to spread nationally. There was no program to meet the specific needs of now-adult children of divorce or separation. To facilitate this goal, diocesan family life directors suggested forming a team dedicated to spreading the retreat and training leaders in this ministry. Therefore, in 2018, with the permission of the John Paul II Institute, Daniel formed the Life-Giving Wounds retreat team to spread Recovering Origins nationally. The initial dioceses reached in 2018 and 2019 (in addition to ongoing retreats in the Archdiocese of Washington) were Arlington, St. Augustine, New York, and Lansing.

Along with his wife Bethany, Daniel hopes to expand ministry for adults from divorced and separated families of origin under the name of Life-Giving Wounds, with the Recovering Origins retreat a key offering. To bring Life-Giving Wounds to your parish or diocese, please visit this page. And please check out our Get Involved page to see how you can be part of writing the future of this much-needed ministry.

The Meaning of the Heart Symbol

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The Life-Giving Wounds heart was hand-drawn by the artist Michael Corsini. It depicts a wounded heart with a large central wound coursing throughout the middle and fraying the heart. There is no part of this heart that is left untouched by the wound. The wound cuts deep and affects the whole. However, notice that the wound is in the shape of a winding, frayed path to the cross of Christ, which is mysteriously present in this heart. This wounded path indicates that our wounds can be unique, intimate pathways to Christ's very own loving heart. For this reason, this heart is reminiscent of traditional depictions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which while glorified in Heaven is also wounded and suffering with humanity.

As we open our broken hearts to Christ's Sacred Heart, our wounds are transformed. This transformation is represented by the color gold in the logo. Gold is symbolic in art for eternity and divinity. Because it does not tarnish over time, gold also traditionally depicts God's ever-faithfulness, which is always present no matter the darkness of suffering, sins, or failures on the part of humanity. This divine fidelity is the unshakable ground for faithful love and healing in our own lives. Divine love pours forth into our wounds and extends out toward bystanders, drawing them into this exchange of hearts between Christ's Sacred Heart and humanity's wounded heart. This pouring-forth towards others is indicative of God's call to us to transform our wounds into life-giving resources of love not just for ourselves, but also for our family and the world.