Diocesan staff to hold sessions to answer questions about divorce

Andy Telli

Many misconceptions surround Catholic teaching about marriage and divorce. To try to help dispel those misconceptions, the Tribunal and the Office of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Nashville are joining forces.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions, and a lot of hurt comes out of those misconceptions,” said Joan Watson, director of faith formation for the diocese.

Her office and the diocesan Tribunal staff have organized an information session for Catholics who are divorced or in irregular marriages called “Restoration: Life in the Church after Divorce” to answer their questions and help them remain active in their faith.

The sessions will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Catholic Pastoral Center, and again at 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, at St. Cecilia Academy.

The presentations at both sessions will be the same. “We’re offering it at two different locations at two different times of day to make it available to more people,” said Erin Stracener, Tribunal director. “The locations are at different sides of town to make it more accessible to more people.”

Bishop J. Mark Spalding will open the meetings with welcoming remarks. Watson will speak about church teaching about marriage, and Father John Hammond, the Judicial Vicar and VicarGeneral for the diocese, will talk about the process of seeking a declaration of nullity of a marriage and how the Tribunal can help people.

Tribunal staff and lay case managers also will be on hand to answer questions about the process, Stracener said.

“Often, this group of people has a lot of misconceptions … about how the Church sees them, how the Tribunal can help them,” she said. “Those misconceptions can be obstacles to people getting help.”

“We want them to participate in their faith,” Stracener said. “I think a lot of people in this situation don’t think anyone hears them. We want to open up a conversation to see how we can help them.”

The diocesan staff has sent a notice to all priests, deacons, lay case sponsors, and those involved in parish ministries that serve divorced Catholics, Stracener said. 

They also are inviting parish directors of religious education, adult faith formation programs, RCIA programs and other parish leaders who often receive questions about the declaration of nullity process and Church teaching on marriage.

“We hear these questions all the time in the RCIA setting,” Watson said. It’s important to have the correct information to answer those questions, she said. 

For more information about the sessions, call 615-645- 9770 or email faithformation@dioceseofnashville.com.