separation and divorce were not unknown among Catholics, the scope of the problem
and the alienation did not become well known until the late forties. In the
summer of 1973, Father McManus became pastor of St. Nicholas in
August 1974, Brother Leonard was ordained and celebrated one of his first Home
Masses for us in September 1974. This started a tradition of celebrating as a
community with a Home Mass followed by a Pot Luck Supper. Father Walker and the
President became active members of the Family Life Bureau of the Archdiocese of
December, 1974, Fr. McCab and a committee from
Lyons celebrated the 1st Annual Mass for SDC on June 22, 1975. Officers for the
following year were blessed by the Bishop. Two hundred attended this
paralleling the events in
In February 1976, Father Vince O'Brien made inquiry about SDC. SDC invited him to come to a meeting and learn about the needs of the separated and divorced. Well he did, became interested in our ministry, and joined our cause. After that, Father Vince touched the lives of each member of SDC in a blessed and beneficial way. He was the smiling, accepting face of our Church for all of us. He became our Chaplain. Father Vince started a new concept - Personal Growth Groups, moderated by SDC members trained in listening and managing discussions, but not as professional care-providers. The SDC Facilitators, have been the core of the SDC peer ministry. Also in 1976, SDC became a non-profit organization.
1978, SDC had developed into the present organization. Membership has
fluctuated from the 10 members the group began with in 1971, reaching a peak of
approximately 500 members from mid-80s to early 90s. Currently, there are no membership dues and between 350-400 people receive the weekly SDC News
email. In 2002, SDC incorporated in the
Father Mike Blackwell was appointed to be our Archdiocese chaplain in 1996. He served in this important and vital role until his death in June, 2014. Although he always deferred to Father Vince in matters of ministry, he was always ready to assist with a home mass or a retreat and was our agent after our incorporation.
SDC began to offer “Separation, Divorce and Beyond” as a monthly meeting vice the 10-week format in June of 2010. The monthly format proved to be too infrequent, especially when there were cancellations. On May 24-26, 2013, SDC held the first “Separation, Divorce and Beyond” weekend given anywhere at the annual retreat and it was very well received by the attendees. SDC has terminated its "Separation, Divorce, and Beyond" Program but a new program, Vivo!, based on scripture and the writings of Father Vince O’Brien is being developed.
On May 2, 2012, Father Vince O’Brien began his new life with his Savior. More than any other person mentioned above or below, he was the loving face and healing voice of SDC. He taught us how to love and give all, let go and follow in his footsteps and his ministry.
The key word in SDC is healing, and the aims are to assist each separated-divorced Catholic to become whole again in the love of the Lord and to help other Catholics understand the pain and suffering the separated and divorced have experienced, so that they will be able to help them remain active members of the Church. The faces have changed but the need and the ministry remain as vital as ever.
Celebrants for the Annual SDC Mass have been:
Bishop Thomas Lyons, 1975-76; Father Vincent O’Brien, 1977, Bishop Lyons, 1978-79; Bishop Thomas Kelly, 1980; Archbishop James Hickey, 1981; Father Raymond Kemp, 1982; Bishop Eugene Marino, S.J., 1983; Bishop Alvaro Corrada, S.J., 1984-85; Bishop Eugene Marino, S.J., 1986-87; Father Kevin T. Hart, 1988; Bishop Leonard J. Olivier, 1989-90; Father Godfrey Mosley, 1991; Father Ronald Jameson, 1992; Father Vince O’Brien and Father William Cleary, 1994; Father Jameson, 1995; Bishop Alvaro Corrada, S.J., 1996; Bishop William Lori, 1997; Father Cary Hill, 1998; Rev. Raymond East, 1999; Fathers Vince O’Brien and Michael Blackwell, 2000-03; Father Michael Blackwell, 2004; Bishop Leonard J. Olivier, 2005-06; Archbishop Donald Wuerl, 2007.
Fr. Eamon McManus, 1971-76; Fr. Leonard Walker, SDS, 1974-76; Fr. Vincent O'Brien, S.J., 1976-2012; Fr. William Cleary, 1979-90, 1994-97; Fr. Charles McCann, 1977-78; Rev. Mr. Jack Hamilton, 1970-98; Fr. Joseph Koury, S.J., 1983; Fr. Francis Murphy, 1984-87; Fr. Eamon Dignan, 1987; Fr. Ray Schmidt, 1985-89; Fr. Walter Lawrence, 1988-90; Rev. Mr. Joe Interlandi, 1995-99, Father Michael Blackwell, archdiocesan chaplain, 1996-2014; and Deacon David Barnes, 1999-present.
Presidents of SDC have been:
Delores Throwe, 1971-77; Arlene Drennan, 1977-79; Francis X. Ballman, 1979-81; Carrie Hansen, 1981-83; Lou Martin, 1983-84; Celeste Peters, 1984-85; Fred Kopenhafer, 1985-86; Nancy Lynch, 1986-1988; Pat Taylor 1988-89; Betty Dawson, 1989-90; Joan Esser, 1990-92; Robertta Keely, 1992-94; Maureen Sandall, 1994-95; Shelia Spillman, 1995-97; Greg Becker, 1997-98, Ty Thomas-Fischer, 1998-2000; Peggy Keegan, 2000-01: Diane Fleming, 2001; Carolee Gearhart, 2001-03, Eileen O'Brien, 2003-04, Cathie With, 2004-05, Greg Becker, 2005-present.
Recipients of the Father Vince O’Brien Award have been:
2005, Carrie Hansen; 2006, Roy and Robertta Rohn; 2012, Gregory Becker.