New ministry aims to address the ‘hidden wounds’ of children of divorced parents

Bethany and Dr. Daniel Meola started Life-Giving Wounds in Washington, D.C., in 2018 for adult children of divorced parents. The ministry, which is starting a chapter in the Archdiocese of Detroit on May 2, allows adults whose parents have divorced to meet, validate one another's experiences and encounter the saving grace found in the Church and the sacraments. (Photos courtesy of Bethany Meola)

Life-Giving Wounds, a national ministry for adult children of divorce, to launch local chapter starting May 2 at St. Fabian Parish

FARMINGTON HILLS — Divorce is part of society and a reality in the Church.

Despite divorce rates declining, according to a 2022 report from Bowling Green State University, marriages ending and separated parents having to make accommodations for their children is an unfortunate part of modern-day society.

Separate living arrangements, weekend parent visitation, two Christmases, two birthdays, and almost two separate lives can be a lot for a child of divorce.

Don't miss another story

Did you know you can get Detroit Catholic's latest daily or weekly articles delivered to your inbox? It's easy and free to sign up.

The common belief that “the kids will be fine” and “are resilient” can overlook some of the hurt children of divorced and separated parents experience, a hurt that can fester if left unaddressed, Bethany Meola told Detroit Catholic.

Meola and her husband, Dr. Daniel Meola, co-founded Life-Giving Wounds, a Washington, D.C.-based ministry for adult children of divorced and separated parents, in 2018, a safe space where they can acknowledge, express and share their hurt, grief and feelings over the end of their parents’ marriage.

On May 2, Life-Giving Wounds will launch a support group in the Archdiocese of Detroit, meeting weekly for six weeks at St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills and culminating in a retreat Sept. 13-15 at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills.

“Life-Giving Wounds is an international Catholic apostolate that has the mission of giving voice to the pain of adult children of divorce and helping them find lasting healing,” Bethany Meola said. “The people we are ministering to are adults whose parents are no longer together. No matter when that happens or the circumstances, that includes people whose parents who are officially married and divorced and the growing number of people whose parents never got married and split up.”

Bethany and Daniel met when they were both studying at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. The couple realized there wasn’t much in the way of Church ministries geared toward the children of divorce, a topic that interested Daniel, whose own parents are divorced.

“We were both noticing that there wasn’t a lot being offered from within the Church speaking to this particular need,” Bethany Meola said. “So a lot of it was the Holy Spirit putting in our hearts to step into that gap and be a place where people could talk very specifically about the pain their parents splitting has caused them and receive encouragement and support in that particular challenge.”

The Archdiocese of Detroit received a $10,000 grant from Ascension Health to launch a Life-Giving Wounds chapter through the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship.

Life-Giving Wounds hosted an information night on April 18 at St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills, where the group will meet.

“Life-Giving Wounds gives individuals an opportunity to meet other individuals in a facilitated environment to hear other people’s stories and get validation for their own experiences,” said David Grobbel, marriage and family support ministry specialist for the Archdiocese of Detroit. “There's also the Catholic aspect of the sacraments, Christ’s healing love and ways to connect their faith and bring healing through that.”

The six-week support session will hinge on the Meolas’ book, “Life-Giving Wounds,” which explores the hurt a person experiences during and after their parents divorce, said Jen Cox, a member of the Life-Giving Wounds national traveling retreat team, who will facilitate the group at St. Fabian.

“The most common wounds — some that are surprising to a lot of people — are the wounds of the loss of our parents’ love together,” Cox said. “No matter what the situation is surrounding our parents’ divorce, no matter how old we are, there is a sense of loss that our parents no longer love each other. That loss needs to be acknowledged and grieved.”

Children of divorce experience a “wound of silence” in a culture that tries to promote a “happy divorce,” where the parents’ relationship can end amicably and even provide the best possible living scenario for the children. However, there is still a sense of pain, a sense of loss that one’s parents’ marriage didn’t fit into God’s vision for a lifelong, inseparable marriage.
Children of divorce experience a “wound of silence” in a culture that tries to promote a “happy divorce,” where the parents’ relationship can end amicably and even provide the best possible living scenario for the children. However, there is still a sense of pain, a sense of loss that one’s parents’ marriage didn’t fit into God’s vision for a lifelong, inseparable marriage.

Cox said children of divorce also experience a “wound of silence” in a culture that tries to promote a “happy divorce,” in which the parents’ relationship can end amicably and even provide a positive living scenario for the children.

“Our understanding of suffering is that it isn’t for nothing,” Cox said. “The Lord had to go through the cross to get this profound, amazing, beautiful miracle that happened in the resurrection. And those wounds and our pain and suffering can be transformed through Him.”

Life-Giving Wounds has since expanded into 20 dioceses across the United States and Canada, helping people to experience the profound graces of the Lord in knowing the Church loves them, Meola said.

One of the fruits of the ministry has been in strengthening participants' own relationships and marriages as they begin to discover peace, Meola added.

"A lot of people have had a lot of fear and anxiety about taking the next step in a good relationship and going deeper with their spouse and having a more vulnerable relationship in their marriage, having that courage and trusting the Lord to be open to this other person, to saying yes to marriage,” Meola said.

Meola cited a study showing two-thirds of children whose parents have gone through a divorce and were previously active in a faith community had nobody in their faith community reach out during or after the divorce.

Meola said Life-Giving Wounds has helped countless individuals, including priests and religious brothers and sisters, both to help them recover from their own parents’ divorce, but also to better understand and minister to people whose parents have divorced or separated, even as society’s view of divorce has changed in recent decades.

“People who are from an older generation may face the stigma of coming from a 'broken home,' but now we are seeing in younger generations more of a wound of silence; they are not sure if their wounds or pain are real, or if people are open to hearing that,” Meola said. “We emphasize how as Catholics we need to be what Pope Francis calls us to be, a family of families, for parishes to be a family of families, especially for people who may not have a safe, warm, intact family.”

Whether the divorce happened when the children were still in the home or after they had grown up and the parents divorced in their 50s and 60s — commonly known as a "grey divorce" — the Church must reach out and let children know they are loved and needed, Grobbel said.

“What adult children of divorced parents need to hear from the Church is your experience is real,” Grobbel said. “It needs to be acknowledged because kids are put to the side sometimes; their voices aren’t acknowledged. We’ve seen this lack of acknowledgment has led to other behaviors, either depression or anger, and you connect the dots to other issues.

“The Church needs to say, ‘We’re here for you. We’re trying to understand you and be appreciative of you,'” Grobbel added. “There is healing, wholeness and restoration to be found for you and to be the person God meant for you to be.”

Life-Giving Wounds

The newly formed Life-Giving Wounds support group for now-adult children of divorced or separated parents will begin May 2 and gather weekly for six meetings at St. Fabian Parish, 32200 W Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills. Each meeting lasts from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Learn more at

Who is the support group for?

  • Anyone 18+ years old with divorced or separated parents
  • If you are curious to know how the wound of divorce or separation may be impacting your life, desire a path toward healing, and are looking for others who can relate to and appreciate your experience


  • Cost: $15, includes “Life-Giving Wounds: A Catholic Guide to Healing for Adult Children of Divorce or Separation” book and “LGW Companion Workbook.”
  • Date: Weekly meetings beginning Thursday, May 2, 2024
  • Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Location: St. Fabian Parish (in church building), 32200 W Twelve Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, Michigan 48334

Please register HERE


Hope and healing Family life AOD-REC: April - Article Bottom