Lutz church offers help in dealing with divorce

The process of divorce, let alone the aftermath, can be challenging, and the St. Timothy Catholic Church offers a program that aims to help.

The church’s Surviving Divorce program begins on Feb. 7.

The Lutz church began the program more than four years ago when it was suggested by parishioners from Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Land O’ Lakes.

Brian Smith and Gina Gawienczuk will help facilitate the upcoming Surviving Divorce Program at St. Timothy Catholic Church starting Feb. 7. (Courtesy of St. Timothy Catholic Church)

St. Timothy was accustomed to offering marriage and grief counseling, but divorce was a new field for the church.

“The program is designed to slowly move you in a way of healing and it builds every week,” explained Gina Gawienczuk, ministry resource specialist at St. Timothy.

The 12-week course is led by trained facilitators who address issues associated  with divorce, such as anger, depression, learning to forgive, finances and annulments.

Those attending the sessions are at various stages. Some are considering divorce, some are in the process, and other are already divorced.

Brian Smith had been divorced for more than a year, when he joined the program. Hearing other people’s stories helped him realize he wasn’t alone and helped him heal emotional wounds.

While open to those of any faith, including non-believers, the program does address the issue from a Catholic perspective and offers an approach that involves bringing God into the situation.

The class begins with a video, followed by small group discussions.

Besides discussing their thoughts on the video, group members are encouraged to share their experiences with each other.

By Week 11, the topic of annulment is addressed through a 20-minute talk, followed by questions.

At that stage, if someone wants to proceed with annulment, they can set up an appointment at the church.

For those seeking one-on-one counseling beyond the program, St. Timothy will refer them to either a spiritual advisor or an organization such as Life Connections Counseling Center.

Surviving Divorce Program
Where: Parish Hall at St. Timothy Catholic Church, 17512 Lakeshore Road in Lutz
When: Starts Feb. 7, on Thursdays, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $30 registration
Details: St. Timothy Catholic Church offers a program to help people who are struggling with the different aspects of divorce.
Info: Email Gina Gawienczuk at . Registration can be done at the church office or online at

Published January 30, 2019

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