Lisa Duffy, a 47-year-old mom from Milton, Ga., founded Journey Of Hope Productions and DivorcedCatholic.org. She took time from her speaking and writing to share a few insights on divorce with “Faith, Hope & Love.”
What inspired you to make a ministry of serving divorced Catholics, Lisa?
In 1993 I became a divorced Catholic very much against my will. At the time I had lost three children in miscarriage and had had surgery to correct the problem, but the procedure rendered me sterile and I went forth childless, without the hope of having children, divorced and Catholic. Not a good combination of circumstances.
I was very angry and my relationship with Christ suffered for about two years. During that time I followed the way of the “culture of divorce,” as I call it, doing what society says will bring you healing. I woke up one day and couldn’t meet my own gaze in the mirror because I knew the life I was living was wrong and that I was not the woman God had created me to be.
From that day I resolved to change, to get back to living the way I knew was right. I made some major life changes and God blessed me for it. After receiving a decree of nullity, I went through the discernment process of whether I was meant for marriage or the consecrated life. Shortly thereafter I met my “real husband,” and we were married within a year.
And, despite what the doctors said, we have three beautiful, healthy children without any trying at all. A true miracle!
So, knowing how terribly divorced men and women suffer, I couldn’t ignore them and keep what God had given to me all to myself. I wanted to get the message of hope and healing out, which I began in 2001 with the Journey of Hope program. In 2006 I met Vince Frese, who had been through similar circumstances and we teamed up to form DivorcedCatholic.Org and all that goes with that.
One of your goals is to tackle all the misinformation about divorce.
The first and most important myth we like to bust is that by virtue of a civil divorce, one is automatically refused the sacraments or excommunicated. Very often people think that not being able to receive the sacraments is the same thing as excommunication.
The second most important myth to bust in my opinion – although there are many to tackle – is that an annulment is simply a Catholic divorce. I could make you a list of misunderstandings, but I think those two probably top the list.
What good can come of divorce?
God allows divorce because He gave us all the gift of free will, and that is something that, no matter how painful the consequences, He will never take away or get in the way of. The good things that come out of divorce can be many and great, but here are some simple examples:
- A spouse or child living in an abusive home atmosphere can find safety.
- A spouse who was persecuted in his or her marriages for living the faith can now do so freely.
- The trials and crosses we carry will always bear fruit if we suffer in Christ; we grow in our spirituality, we become stronger, more patient, wiser – overall, a better person for what happened.
What advice would you give a divorced Catholic who feels called to remarry?
My advice to those who want to remarry is not to date until they have a decree of nullity in their hands and they know they are free to date, fall in love, and marry in the church. I can certainly talk a lot about that, but I think this is the biggest mistake people make after a divorce – dating without being healed or free to date.
How’s your radio show Journey Of Hope been going?
The radio show is going very well. We’ll air our 19th show tomorrow. We have a lot of fun and get to really help people get through their situations. We are definitely grateful that God has given us that opportunity.
Tell me about the resources you provide on DivorcedCatholic.org.
There are many, including:
- accurate answers to some of the most common questions
- books and DVDs
- free videos to watch online
- a member discussion forum
- daily inspirational emails
- parish programs
- The Journey Of Hope online program
- Journey of Hope radio program archives
- information regarding the annual Journey Of Hope Conference in Atlanta