Founded by a Catholic nun, Sister Josephine Stewart, SSMN, and her divorced friend, Jo Lamia, the Beginning
Experience® ministry has brought healing from the grief of a lost marriage—their own or the marriage of their parents—to
thousands of adults, children and youth, and has renewed their ability to once again love themselves, others and God.
From its beginning at the Catholic Renewal Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the ministry now serves separated, divorced and
widowed persons and children of these losses in over 100 communities across the United States, Canada, England, Ireland,
Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
“I felt anguish at the depth of the pain expressed by the participants on that first weekend,” Sister Josephine says, “and nearly stopped the program midway through. Thanks to the faith of the team, who prayed for faith for me, we continued and I witnessed the amazing resurrection that began in those lives by Sunday afternoon. This program was a profound gift from God to hurting people.”
Those who have lost a marriage and worked through their loss with the help of the Beginning Experience® ministry testify
to the impact it has had on their lives.
Kathy Litten, Birmingham, Alabama, called the Beginning Experience weekend a catalyst that provided the springboard she
needed to push forward in her grief journey. “During the weekend, I was able to acknowledge the steps involved in grief. I
could weep, mourn, rage, and accept what had happened to my children and me. The weekend paved the road to
forgiveness, a vital step in accepting the person I am and my present life. The Beginning Experience® weekend was awe-
A recognized ministry of the Catholic Church, Christian compassion is the focus of the Beginning Experience® ministry, according to Kathleen Murphy, Executive Director. Its peer ministers are wounded healers—men and women who are themselves widowed, separated or divorced. They follow the example of Christ in reaching out to others who are suffering this same pain. As instruments of the Holy Spirit, they share their own losses, and listen with compassion to those who are beginning this difficult journey.
“Rooted in the Paschal Mystery, the Beginning Experience® ministry offers a resource to each diocese in which it serves, working with the Church to help heal its grieving people.”