The Ministry of the Separated, Widowed and Divorced celebrated 24 years of the New Beginnings Weekends on January 20 at the Seminary, Mt St Benedict. The celebration included Mass and a conference, the theme of which was: God does not make Junk.
Chairperson Zena Ali warmly welcomed the 70-plus participants, and team member Angela Rostant enthusiastically led them in prayer and worship.
Kay and Wilfred Holder, who started the New Beginnings Weekends, gave a brief history of the ministry, recalling how it started at their home in 1988. Kay asked all previous participants to encourage other separated, divorced or widowed persons to attend a Weekend. Wilfred urged those who have experienced a New Beginnings Weekend to let go of the past and not let their earlier unpleasant experiences hold them back from moving forward with their lives. He acknowledged that this would not be easy but promised that if they put their lives in God’s hands, they could have a New Beginning.
Guest speakers Wendy and Keith Patrick shared about personal challenges and the related pain and suffering. They explained that their struggles had not only brought them closer to God but they experienced joy every morning, as promised by God. Wendy read from Isaiah 43 and 46, reminding the audience of God’s love, the frailty of life and the precious nature of one’s life: “God does not make Junk.” Keith read from Matthew 6:19 and explained that one could make a New Beginning by giving God the leeway to do what He wanted. Wendy ended with Romans 8:18-28, “I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us... .”
After lunch, one of the Ministry’s team members shared on her “Five Stages of Death and Dying”. She told of the trauma and tribulation leading to the eventual separation. Group discussion followed, then came the vote of thanks and the closing prayer.
Vicar General and Vicar for Family Life Msgr Robert Llanos celebrated Mass and in his homily he shared on the miracle at the wedding in Cana. He explained that the miracle was not just to fulfil a need but was about conversion. He said Jesus performed miracles so that people could experience the generosity of God and his enduring love – and come to believe in Him.