Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

The participants of the 2022 Life-Giving Wounds retreat co-sponsored by the Dioceses of Owensboro and Evansville. COURTESY OF DIOCESE OF EVANSVILLE

Coming this August: healing retreat for adult children of divorced/separated parents


The title of the retreat says it all: “Life-Giving Wounds.”

That phrase implies the entire focus of the weekend healing retreat, which is to bring God’s healing to the wounds experienced by adult children of divorce or separation. Bethany Meola, co-founder and vice president of Life-Giving Wounds (LGW), explains, “We acknowledge their pain, we grieve with them, and we want to accompany them on the healing journey to reclaim their identity as a child of God, capable of great love, faith, hope, and joy.”

Focusing on 1 Peter 2:24 “By His (Jesus’) wounds you have been healed,” the retreat walks participants through the “wounds” that may silently exist from their parents’ divorce or separation. Just like Jesus’ wounds from the crucifixion were transformed after his resurrection, our past wounds can also be transformed into sources of love through a process of mourning, healing, and forgiving.

The first LGW retreat in the Diocese of Owensboro was held in August 2022, when the Office of Marriage and Family Life partnered with the Diocese of Evansville to fly in co-founder Dr. Daniel Meola and a team to present the inaugural retreat. I had the profound experience of witnessing that retreat from a table in the back of the room and saw firsthand the healing and restoration that happens in a retreat setting like LGW. Yes, there were tears, but there were also lots of smiles and laughter. The stories shared by participants at the end of the retreat were incredibly moving as participants were given a chance to share the most meaningful moments of the weekend.

Dr. Daniel and Bethany Meola, co-founders of Life-Giving Wounds. COURTESY OF LIFE-GIVING WOUNDS

One comment I heard several times from participants is the powerful sense of connection from being in a room full of people who all have a similar shared experience. Because of that, the presentations’ topics relate and “hit home” powerfully. Retreatants say the retreat became a safe space to unpack experiences and sort through past hurts and disappointments.

What also impressed me about LGW is how well those sensitive topics were handled with great care, concern, and understanding. It was heavy, but it was also hopeful.

LGW presentations are delivered by trained leaders who are adult children of divorce themselves. Topics include forgiveness, family boundaries, dealing with anger and anxiety, building strong relationships as an adult child of divorce, addressing wounds to one’s identity and faith, and more. The small group sessions, which are led by trained peer leaders, are an opportunity for attendees to connect with other adult children of divorce who understand the challenges of their situation and can provide support and encouragement.

Now with a local team trained to present the retreat, the Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Marriage and Family Life is co-sponsoring a second three-day Life-Giving Wounds retreat with the Diocese of Evansville, to be held August 18-20, 2023, at SARTO Retreat Center in Evansville, IN.

To learn more or register for the retreat, visit

To learn more about this ministry, visit For questions or more information, contact [email protected] or call (270) 852-8336.

Danny May is the director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Owensboro.

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