Those mourning a loved one are invited to gather for Wednesday series via Zoom

Those mourning the loss of a loved one are invited to take part in a weekly gathering via Zoom sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria starting on Wednesday evening, April 7.

“Wounded Healers Grief Group” is the name of a new outreach to provide comfort and support, as well as to transform grief into an instrument of healing.

The group will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on six consecutive Wednesday evenings. Each meeting will feature a brief talk followed by discussion. The first topic, on April 7, is “Grief: What Does It Look Like and How Will It Affect Me?”

Participants can join at any point in the series. Subsequent topics include:

  • April 14 — “The Trifecta of Grief: Anger, Forgiveness, and Guilt”
  • April 21 — “Loneliness: An Obstacle to Overcome in the Midst of Sorrow”
  • April 28 — “Redemptive Suffering”
  • May 5 — “New Normal, New Traditions, Resetting Our Lives,” and
  • May 12 — “Transfer of Pain: Transforming Grief into an Instrument of Healing.”

To obtain the Zoom link or for more information, contact Sister Michelle Fernandez, SCTJM, at (309) 409-5092 or  Sister Michelle is director of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Peoria.


“Wounded Healers” is the second bereavement group to be offered through Catholic Charities this year. A six-week series, “Seasons of Hope,” was offered Feb. 17 to March 24 via Zoom and moderated by Lorraine Kim, a counselor with Catholic Charities’ Good Samaritan program in Champaign and Piatt counties. It drew six participants, and a second season in that series is expected to be announced soon.

“The group bonded really well and quite quickly, I thought, given the limitations of Zoom,” said Kim. “They really liked the fellowship with each other and especially the ability to connect with others who shared their faith.”

Sister Michelle said Catholic Charities recognized the need for grieving individuals and families to have closure, especially when the deaths occurred in a time of quarantine because of the COVID pandemic.

The “Wounded Healers” support group is based on a parish model called G3 — “Grieving with Gratitude and Grace” — developed in recent years at St. Joseph Parish in Pekin.

Jolene Whisler helped develop the G3 model with Father Michael Andrejek and Deacon Mark Wilder following the death of her mother in 2015. Several months ago she called Sister Michelle and offered to assist Catholic Charities in some volunteer capacity.

After discussing available opportunities, and just before hanging up, Sister Michelle felt called to share about the need to begin a grief ministry for the diocese. She then learned of Jolene’s passion for the topic and her experience with the group in Pekin.

“That’s where our conversation really began,” recalls Sister Michelle. In the ensuing months, the “Wounded Hearts” series began to take shape. The evenings will feature a 20-minute talk by a priest or deacon, time for prayer, and a “round about” for participants to share what they are going through in their grief journey, should they wish.

The discussion “will allow others to hear stories that they may relate to, whether they are in the first year of grief of the tenth year,” said Whisler.

Sister Michelle acknowledges some might find it intimidating at first to gather with strangers on Zoom, but reiterated that participants in the “Seasons of Hope” group found it to be healing.

Lorraine Kim concurred.

“They liked the ability to talk freely about the Catholic traditions that comforted them, such as the sacraments, adoration, and their devotion to Mother Mary,” said Kim. She noted that group’s fifth session focused on the Way of the Cross, “which was perfect during Lent.”

“God had it all worked out ahead of time,” she said.

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