By Joyce Coronel
Barb Lishko, the marriage preparation coordinator at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Chandler, spends her days helping couples prepare for their happily-ever-after.
Over the years though, she’s had regular calls from people who, for one reason or another, are on the other end of the spectrum: their marriage has ended. Lishko decided to do something about it.
Two years ago, the parish began offering a twice-a-year series called The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide, a 12-week program for healing after the breakup of a marriage.
Not everyone is able to attend a lengthy program though, so Lishko came up with an alternative that premiers this month at the church.
The Day of Healing for the Divorce and Separated takes place Saturday, Feb. 25, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s, 3450 W. Ray Road.
A continental breakfast and lunch are included in the fee of $45. Participants need not be Catholic to attend.
The presenter is Milwaukee-based Marianne Skrobiak, who spent 21 years as a licensed professional counselor and herself experienced divorce. Skrobiak is known for her work with the divorced and separated and travels the country offering her seminar. It was just what Lishko felt people needed. She said she receives about three or four calls a month from people who are brokenhearted over their situation.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who didn’t want a divorce in their life,” Lishko said. “One woman said, ‘This wasn’t the plan for my life. My plan was to have a family with him, to grow old together. By his choices, this is the bag I’m stuck holding.’ It really just breaks my heart.”
Those who have attended the previous divorce-recovery programs at St. Andrew’s say they feel more peace in their lives and have been able to work through the issues they had, Lishko said.
“They found out they weren’t struggling alone with some of the things that they were feeling.”
Beyond that, she hopes she can figure out a way to help couples not feel so pressured by expectations to marry. “One of the challenges is, how do you help couples get off the marriage train once it’s left the station?” Liskho mused.
One couple who met with her for marriage preparation admitted that they argued every single day. When Lishko tried to gently tell the bride it might be best to call off the impending nuptials, the woman told her, “This is happening. I already have this booked and that booked and people are already coming in.”
Lishko said she tells engaged couples, “If you need to put a pause on this, please put a pause. There’s no pressure from us.”
In the meantime, she continues to get calls from those distraught over marriages that fell apart.
“I really wanted to offer something for anyone who is still suffering perhaps or feeling alone or broken in some way. This is a great way for them to just take care of themselves.”
Info: 480-899-1990 or standrewchandler.com