Healing the Wounds of Clergy Abuse

We are all called into the fullness of authentic love and freedom to discover our unique vocations in Christ. But abuse of any sort, with its fundamental nature of betrayal, attacks our identity as beloved children of God. Clergy abuse, in particular, can shatter an individual's sense of belonging in the church.

Below, four survivors of clergy abuse share about their experiences of healing through Grief to Grace, a week-long retreat program offered around the United States and abroad.

I notice that the sense of helpless vulnerability which seemed ingrained in me has evaporated and I have a new sense of being present to myself and integrated in body, mind and spirit as never before. Now I think, ‘this must be how we’re meant to feel.’ It helps me understand my lack of accomplishment and direction in life up until now. How could I make goals and follow through with them when so much energy was expended in agonizing then second guessing every decision and choice I was faced with? Now I’m happy to say my greatest accomplishment is my full acceptance of humanity, wounds, scars and all, in myself and in others.
I have been delivered from a great burden as a result of Grief to Grace. Resurrection has occurred in my life as a result of this experience! I can share very frankly about my experience as well as opening myself up to others about who I really am. I know the tender loving care of God in a new and refreshing way and I look forward to my life and what the possibilities are that lie ahead.
I have never been more sure or aware of the effects of the Holy Spirit in my life. The healing was immense, the joy is so wonderful. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart . . . I feel my flesh is no longer something of shame and hindrance to the “holy” part of me that was somehow my ideas, my mind. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the work of Grief to Grace is a charism for the church which she desperately needs right now. I will close with renewed thanks. Your great skill, care and kindness in Faith to the work of the Holy Spirit have been the means of miraculous healing and immeasurable grace to me. For this you have my heartfelt prayers and love in Jesus.
— A survivor of clergy abuse who became a priest
There was a period in my life that going to Mass was so difficult because I hated the men representing Christ on the altar . . . The abuse I experienced made me an angry person for a very long time. The abuse I experienced made me a fearful person for a very long time. The abuse I experienced made me a paranoid and untrusting person for a very long time.

I made great strides, if painful ones, in therapy and spiritual direction. Grief to Grace really helped me to focus and bring all the strides I made in therapy together. The fear that I lived with for so long was gone. And I have come to the point in my healing that I don’t feel shame any longer. That coming into my own and not accepting manipulation from others has given me a freedom that I don’t ever remember having.
— A survivor of clergy abuse who became a priest

Grief to Grace accompanies participants through their grief to a new vision of life and hope. Facilitated by mental health professionals, the Grief to Grace program seeks to bring wounded souls to the font of love itself, Jesus Christ, who knew exactly what it felt like to be an innocent victim. To learn more, please visit GrieftoGrace.org.