Mercy Mondays

A true story of compassion

By Maryvel Torres | Thursday, May 05, 2016

Maria and John had been married for over 25 years. As a couple, they were very well known and actively involved in ministries at their parish. Maria felt respected and admired until the truth was revealed. John’s long hours at work and his constant traveling were an indication of marital problems. John left Maria with three kids between the ages of 17 to 21. There was no turning back. The life she had known was crumbling in front of her while she was paralyzed by the news.

As a faithful Catholic, Maria took refuge in her faith. While she stayed involved in the parish, John’s absence became obvious to others in their community. To her surprise, as difficult as it was to discretely share her situation with some parishioners, Maria found it devastating to observe the indifferent attitude from some that originally expressed admiration. Although she was tempted to leave the church all together, she remained faithful.

As a single mother and head of the household, Maria looked for help. She made an appointment to speak to her parish priest who had heard rumors about her situation. Not knowing what he would say, Maria was feeling overwhelmed. She was afraid of being excommunicated, or to not be allowed to serve in ministry, or of being judged. She felt physically and emotionally drained with worry of the possibility of being rejected by the church. To her surprise, she was profoundly moved by the priest’s compassionate understanding. He listened to her story without judgment and reaffirmed that she was welcome to the church as a daughter of God. Towards the end of the conversation he suggested she contact our Marriage and Family Ministries Office for resources to help her.

Maria joined a divorce support group. While learning new coping skills, she was constantly amazed by the common shared experiences of the other participants, and almost felt like they were speaking the same language. Thanks to the compassion and understanding shown to her, Maria is rebuilding her new life and is an active member of the Body of Christ.

How are you an instrument of Christ’s mercy, compassion and understanding towards others dealing with irregular situations in their lives?

Note: Names and some details have been changed to protect Maria’s privacy.

Maryvel Torres is the Divorce Ministry Coordinator for the Office of Marriage and Family Ministries.