Separation and divorce are among life’s most stressful transitioning events. Not only do they affect the individuals in the marriage, they also impact children, extended family and friends and often, personal finances.
Sister Anne Marie Saphara knows that first hand. Before becoming a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, she had been married, divorced, raised her son on her own and then had her marriage annulled in preparation for entering the community.
In looking for a ministry to supplement her work as a graphic designer for the congregation, she contacted Deacon Dean Brainard, ministry coordinator for Outreach for Separated and Divorced within the diocesan Family/Respect Life Office in the Diocese of Syracuse, New York.
“In my email I said that I had no background in sociology or psychology or counseling but that I wanted to help in any way I could,” Sister Anne Marie relates.
That email was an answer to Deacon Dean’s prayers — literally. A staffing change had left Dean in need of additional support. “I was at Alverna Heights, (spiritual retreat center operated by the sisters in Fayetteville, New York) walking through the woods there and praying that I could get some help.” The next morning, Dean said he received Sister Anne Marie’s email. “Sister Anne Marie came to us through divine intervention. She’s truly a gift,” he says.
On Saturday, March 18 Sister Anne Marie will lead a Tavola workshop at “Rise: Annual Day of Renewal for Separated and Divorced,” at Christ the King Retreat House and Conference Center in Syracuse.