Who founded the Separated and Divorced Ministry?
The late Father Jim Young is considered to be the founder of NACSDC, the international organization for separated and divorced Catholics. This is correct as he was certainly the advocate from the Church’s clergy and it is proper to remember him as the founder. He was, however, not the founder of the Church’s ministry to the separated and divorced.
In the early first century, a Samaritan divorcee was surprised to find a young Jewish Rabbi talking with her. To the Jews at that time, Samaritans and divorced women were two groups who were considered undesirable. But this man continued to talk and showed that he was well aware of her problems and was truly concerned for her well-being. The woman who was defensive at first was won over by his gentle and accepting manner. While we do not know whether she actually took his advice or not, she certainly accepted his ministry and her life was forever changed. And the rabbi, having given her the great gift of her dignity and self-worth, left her and walked on into history.
We don’t know the woman’s name and know her only as the “Woman at the Well”, but the rabbi was Jeshua Bar Jonah or Jesus Christ as we know Him. Through that encounter, He demonstrated the manner in which all who were to follow Him were to treat and minister to the separated and divorced. He had not only talked to this woman but had reached out to her from the start. It is He who founded the ministry and He who still calls people to it like the late Fathers Jim Young, Vince O’Brien, and Mike Blackwell and currently like Pope Francis, Cardinal Wuerl, Monsignor Maury O’Connell and Father Rick Kramer as well as all others who are part of His ministry. So if anyone asks you how and when the Church got into the separated and divorced ministry, tell them that it’s just “what Jesus did.”