Many single parents get support from family members, friends and fellow parishioners. But meeting another parent in a similar situation is encouraging in a different way, according to Jody, a single mom who asked that her last name not be used. The chance to get to know others who are parenting alone, and talk about related issues and experiences, are reasons she often attends the annual Single Parent Retreat hosted by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
“The people that are there you already have two things in common with: You have your faith as a Catholic, and you know you’re a single parent,” said Jody, a parishioner of St. Michael in St. Michael who has a 15-year-old son. “Right there, that’s a huge part of everyone’s lives.”
The ninth annual Single Parent Retreat will be Saturday, Feb. 8, at Maternity of The Blessed Virgin in St. Paul. It’s open to all divorced, widowed and unmarried parents seeking spiritual and practical insights into single parenting, along with fellowship with other participants. Free childcare is available.
On average, 25 to 30 parents attend the morning retreat, which starts with Mass (if participants choose), continental breakfast and two talks, followed by question-and-answer periods, said Nancy Schulte Palacheck, family and laity outreach coordinator for the archdiocese’s Office of Marriage, Family and Life.
Father Timothy Cloutier, judicial vicar for the archdiocese, will speak on “Heavenly Help in Raising Your Children,” and licensed psychologist Catherine Mollner will present “Instilling Resilience; Establishing a Firm Foundation of Healthy Self-Esteem and Boundaries.” Mollner practices at the Midwest Center for Personal and Family Development in St. Paul.
Maternity of The Blessed Virgin
1414 Dale St. N., St. Paul
8 a.m. — Parish Mass in church (optional)
8:30 a.m. — Registration and continental breakfast
9 a.m. — Retreat
12 p.m. — Closing prayer
For more information and to register
Visit archspm.org or call (651) 291-4489
Single parents aren’t alone
The retreat gives single parents — who are often overloaded with responsibilities — a chance to take time for themselves, said Schulte Palacheck, who was a single parent for 13 years.
“I think that’s the biggest challenge of a single parent is that you have zero time because everything you have is being given either to your children or to work,” she said. “You just neglect yourself. This is an opportunity for them to really take the time for themselves, and come and be refreshed and renewed and know that they’re not going through it alone.”
Other issues for single parents include working with the other parent(s), how to talk with kids about certain topics, and discipline, Jody said.
“Sometimes people just talk and it’s nice to vent and listen to people that understand you,” she said. “That can be healing in itself. There are always people who tell what they do in their house.”
Spiritual, practical resources
Whatever their struggles are, Father Cloutier emphasized that for both single parents and their children, God doesn’t give them a vocation or work to do without also giving them the grace to do it.
“The grace is also there to help the single parent understand the needs of the child, understand their vocation as a parent, and then the grace of God is also there to help that child,” he said.
A speaker at a previous retreat encouraged Jody to pray a decade of the rosary every day with her son, which she continues to do.
“That’s something I incorporated into my family, and I believe that it helped,” she said. “You never know in what ways prayer helps, but it’s established the precedent now for my son to think, ‘Well, this is just what families do.’ And hopefully, he can carry that forward into his life as well, as an adult.”
The retreat is one way for single parents to know that the Church — through parishes and the faith community — has resources to help them, Father Cloutier said, adding that parishes need to reach out more to single parents.
Jody said the retreat is a source of support for her.
“You always leave feeling really good about who you are as a parent,” she said. “You always have those people, even though they’re essentially strangers, that you can go to if you have a problem or need additional support, because they get it.”
For more information about the Single Parent Retreat and to register, visit archspm.org or call (651) 291-4489. When registering, please indicate if you will need childcare.
Category: Local News