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Hurting & Healing

The Office of Family Ministry recognizes the strains and pains that accompany the life cycle of marriage and family. We offer programs, training, and consultation to assist individuals and families in finding healing and wholeness.

Peer Support Groups: (Divorce or Separation, Bereavement/Grief) Facilitator Training

The Office of Family Ministry offers training and enrichment for those starting or running support groups for the divorced and separated and for the bereaved in our parishes and communities. In addition, the office has produced and maintains up-to-date listings of the support groups currently functioning in our parishes and communities. For information regarding peer support groups or peer support group facilitator training, call the Office of Family Ministry at (815) 838-5334

Tree of Light Infant Memorial Mass

All families and individuals are welcome to attend this Mass at the Blanchette Catholic Center in Crest Hill, which usually takes place on the first Sunday in November.   This beautiful liturgy will remember babies who have been lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, other pregnancy losses or early childhood death.  A special tree blessing ceremony for family members to commemorate these babies precedes the mass.   Registration information will be available closer to the event date.  

Bereavement Ministry Training

A three-part bereavement workshop, co-sponsored by The Office of Family Ministry and The Office of Divine Worship is held periodically for persons who are new to this ministry. This training was developed by National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved, Inc.  Focus areas will include the grief process, communication skills, setting up the parish program (including the Order of Christian Funerals), caring for the minister, and support groups.  Registration information for the next training will be on our website and in the calendar. 

Annual Conference for Divorced & Widowed

Our annual conference, which takes place in the spring, is especially designed for those who are divorced and widowed and for those who minister to them.  Read more..


Joyful Again! Widowed Retreat

Check out the new Joyful Again! video

This program is for widows and widowers who want to resolve the grief they feel inside and adjust to the many changes that occur after the death of a spouse. Video presentations, along with input from trained facilitators, who have themselves experienced the painful loss of a spouse, are combined with private reflection and group discussion time. The two-day experience has helped hundreds of widowed individuals view life with new hope, joy and enthusiasm. The Office of Family Ministry sponsors two Joyful Again! Retreats during the year, and other weekends are offered at various locations. For further information or to register, call Charlotte Hrubes at (708) 354-7211 or check our Event Calendar or the Joyful Again! website for upcoming weekend dates and locations.

Annulment Support

Although the Marriage Tribunal, (815) 722-2256, is directly responsible for the annulment procedures in the diocese, The Office of Family Ministry offers information and education to divorced individuals who are seeking a declaration of nullity regarding their previous marriage bond. Through the Annulment Support Day for Petitioners (in the winter) and Annulment Information Day (in the fall), divorced Catholics investigating the possibility of an annulment are offered guidance and support in a safe and caring environment. Information nights and other workshops are also available periodically. Please check our Event Calendar for workshop information. Led by trained professionals, these programs are sponsored by The Office of Family Ministry in collaboration with the Marriage Tribunal. Please call Family Ministry (815) 838-5334 for information on the annulment process. We encourage interested persons to read Myths and Truths about Annulment.


Retrouvaille (pronounced re tro vi) is a national organization which offers a weekend program for troubled marriages. The Retrouvaille weekend provides a Catholic spiritual context for working carefully on one’s marriage. Through presentations, private reflection, and dialogue, couples whose marriages are seriously troubled and who may be contemplating divorce are invited to reflect on their marriage and on what they can do to save it. For more information, call  Joliet:  (815) 351-6968 or NW Indiana (708) 802-1830. Please check our Event Calendar for upcoming 2019 dates.


The RAINBOWS Program is designed to assist children who are grieving the loss of a parent or other significant relationship through death or divorce. Established groups meet regularly in churches, schools, and agencies at various locations throughout the diocese. The purpose of RAINBOWS is to facilitate and encourage the healing process and to teach positive coping skills as families adjust during these stressful times. For general information or to locate a program site, call RAINBOWS International Headquarters in Evanston at (847) 952-1770

Elizabeth Ministry

Elizabeth Ministry is a parish-based outreach to women in special times of motherhood. Sponsored by The Office of Family Ministry, it is based on Jesus’ vision of the goodness, beauty and truth of human life. The purpose of this ministry is to affirm, support, encourage and assist women during their childbearing years. Women gather in groups, conduct individual home visits, and sponsor activities that foster the positive value of family in church life. Through the participation and peer support of Elizabeth Ministry, women often experience greater self-confidence in ministering and leading others within church and society. Parish training and ongoing enrichment programs for Elizabeth Ministry are sponsored by the office. Please call the Office of Family Ministry (815) 838-5334 for information on this ministry.

 Single Through Loss

An inter-parish committee of the Diocese of Joliet, Single Through Loss (STL) members include support group leaders of Divorce and Beyond, Joyful Again! Widowed Ministry, and other peer support groups. STL group was initiated by The Office of Family Ministry. Its mission is to provide spiritual enrichment and networking opportunities for widowed or divorced Catholics who have passed through the initial stages of grief and are ready to begin a new chapter in their lives. Meetings are open to individuals of all denominations who are respectful of faith-based values. Check our Event Calendar for upcoming events. 

Networking with Other Community Resources

The Office of Family Ministry can help people who are in crisis by connecting them with the appropriate resource in the community, whether that be a domestic abuse shelter, a sliding fee scale counselor, self-help programs for substance abuse, or other concerns.


Although The Office of Family Ministry does not offer counseling, the nature of our programs is such that participants often find the need to seek professional resources.  Dr. Val Maty is available to help in this process: (815) 838-5334.

Clearing House

The office acts as a clearinghouse and source of information for a wide variety of independent family movements and groups, such as Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Christian Family Movement (Movimiento Familiar Cristiano), Parenting for Peace and Justice, Stepfamily Association of America. Check out our Helpful Links page for more information.

The Office of Family Ministry wishes to bring a family perspective to parish ministry. We offer consultation with parishes regarding any family issue, and are particularly interested in the formation and maintenance of family ministry teams and commissions.