Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer
February 22, 2023 // Diocese

Ava’s Grace Retreat Seeks to Offer Support to Grieving Parents

Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer

First held in March of 2019, the ava’s grace Annual Retreat for Couples is a healing opportunity for grieving parents within the diocese mourning the loss of a baby before or after birth. It provides these parents a channel to grieve and heal after the death.

“The goal of the retreat is to provide a time and space to help participants to process their grief in the context of their faith and in fellowship with others who have experienced a similar suffering,” said Lisa Everett, Director for Marriage and Family Ministry for the diocese.

According to the ava’s grace website, “Parents who experience the loss of a child at whatever stage of pregnancy or infancy are often overwhelmed by grief that is intense and isolating, and sometimes invalidated by others. We who believe that every human life is sacred from the moment of conception need to surround these grieving parents with spiritual, emotional, and practical support at a time when they might feel very much alone. Such support is a sign of our solidarity in the body of Christ and a manifestation of God’s abiding love which accompanies us in our suffering and invites us to unite it with His own.”

The diocesan ministry ava’s grace hosts the retreat as one of its many resources for grieving parents. Other ministry resources include support groups, Memorial Masses, inspirational writings from women and men who have experienced similar hurt, and much more.

Since its beginning, the retreat has been held on a Saturday near the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

“We always hold this retreat on a Saturday close to the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in solidarity with Our Lady who said ‘yes’ to the gift of a child and whose heart was pierced by a sword when he passed from this life,” Everett said.

This year, the day-long retreat will be held on the feast day itself, Mar. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Parish Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. It will include Mass for the feast of the Annunciation, a witness talk by John and Mary O’Callaghan, small group discussion, couple conversation, Eucharistic Adoration, and a pilgrimage to the Grotto.

“It is tempting to think that God has turned away from us when we are suffering so deeply, and it is a privilege to help the retreat participants to experience how God desires to draw close to them in love and compassion through His mystical body, the Church,” Everett explained.

To register for the retreat, email Lisa Everett at [email protected] or call 574-234-0687.

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