Help for divorced, celibate Catholics?

Help for divorced, celibate Catholics? March 12, 2014

While everyone’s twisting themselves into knots about how the Church should or should not respond to people who are divorced and remarried, there is another segment of the population who could use some attention:  people who are divorced and intend to remain celibate. I got this question from a female reader:

Are there ANY resources for divorced Catholics that are trying to remain celibate?? It seems like most are geared toward teenagers. Chastity and celibacy aren’t just manly issues either. Thank you!!!!
Rather than just start casting around on Google, I figured you guys would know. Any books, websites, message boards, groups, programs you can recommend?
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  • All I can say is, if you wait long enough it becomes a non-issue. I’m 63, have been single and celibate for a very long time. It does get easier. What to do in the meantime? Sublimate, sublimate.

    • Well, maybe, but if the Church is our mother, then she should still feel a motherly responsibility for providing the help and guidance her children need, whatever phase of life they’re in.

      • Yes, absolutely. I was being slightly wise-ass.

  • Daniel

    good point Simcha! especially spouses who have the divorce forced on them. My mom is in such a position. it’s hard for her to relate to others in the church because she can’t exactly hang out with other couples. and she can’t hang out with men like nuns relate to men. I wish there was a special 3rd Order group that such people can join to support each other, receive support, and receive special recognition of the sacrifice they’re making for their life-long marriage vow.

    • Kate Cousino

      I know a few women who would join a spiritually-focused group for ‘sacramentally married but seperated/divorced’ individuals. There’s a unique set of challenges involved.

    • “and she can’t hang out with men like nuns relate to men”

      That’s a good point. My mom is a widow and has no intention of ever getting married again, and she gotten annoyed at certain men who took her overtures of friendship for something more. People need to be reminded that men and women can in fact relate to each other in non-romantic/sexual ways.

  • 11onmyown

    Divorced (wasn’t me) and celibate 7 years. No it’s not easy. I’m always the odd one out.

  • Sarah

    I wish I knew of some resources to share. I do have a beautiful example of a friend who went through this, though. She was married for many years, and when her kids were grown, her husband left her. She went through the annulment process, had her marriage annulled, and then changed her name back to her maiden name. She had to go through a lot of healing, and she did so with the help of a priest. She worked full time to provide for herself, and then devoted her spare time to running the Gabriel Project ministry at our parish for many years, helping countless women and babies. She then began to help the Missionaries of Charity in our area, and soon found herself so active in helping them, that she decided to discern becoming a third-order Missionary of Charity. After their two or three year discernment process, they discerned that she was called to be a third-order Missionary of Charity. Now, she uses her spare time to help the poor and serve the Missionaries of Charity. She is so humble and inspiring. She finds her fulfillment in service to God’s people. So beautiful.

  • Anna

    Yes, Rose Sweet has a ministry to divorced Catholics, both those who intend to remain celibate and those whose marriages may be annulled and who wish to remarry.
    Here’s her site with books and things:
    And here’s the general site:

    I met her at a Theology of the Body class when her ministry was just starting out. She seems a well-grounded sort, though I don’t have any personal experience with her work.

  • Heather

    I don’t know of any specifically for the divorced/separated, but I do know a few that are helpful for the long term single/celibate in general:

    The Seraphic Singles blog by Dorothy Cummings McLean. It’s somewhat more geared towards the never-married who are hoping to marry in the future (especially those getting older and despairing of their chances) but she does devote some space to the intentionally (or not) long term celibate and a lot of her general writing on the single life is applicable regardless of future or past relationships.

    They might also find some useful stuff at the Spiritual Friendship blog. It’s written primarily for and by people with various forms of same sex attraction who want to abide by the traditional Christian understanding of sexuality, but in those experiences there can be a lot of overlap with other people who are going through long term celibacy that is not necessarily what they would have wanted to have chosen for themselves.

  • Sheila C.

    Spiritual Friendship is a blog for gay Catholics, but I recommend it to anyone I know who intends to stay celibate, because it has so many great posts about loneliness; unchosen, permanent celibacy; and building chaste community that includes the unmarried.

  • ModerateMom17

    I kind of gave up on expecting the church to address this and related issues to be honest. I’m a widow since I was 27 with three kids and it seems that all anyone cares about is that my kids are “OK”. Which, don’t get me wrong, is nice and appreciated, but I’m still kind of a person. I think? I’ve had so many Catholics basically tell me it’s my duty to raise my kids alone and be alone. So, yeah.