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‘The Way’ retreat in Cozad to offer abuse survivors hope of healing

By Colleen Gallion

West Nebraska Register

COZAD, Neb. – “The Way: A Healing Retreat for Male Survivors of Abuse” has been scheduled for March 20-22 at Camp Comeca in Cozad.

The event is a three-day guided meditation and prayer experience for men whose abuse by another has caused physical, psychological or spiritual injury.

The Diocese of Grand Island Victim Assistance Ministry, in collaboration with the victim assistance ministries in the Archdiocese of Omaha and Diocese of Lincoln, is hosting the retreat.

The Christian-based retreat was developed by Sue Stubbs from the Archdiocese of Atlanta. She will facilitate the retreat with Matt Hutt, a Scottsbluff psychologist, and Armando Chavarria, director of the Office of Faith Formation and Evangelization for the Grand Island diocese, along with a Nebraska retreat team. Men of all faiths and traditions are invited to attend.

Heidt Kozisek, director for the Office of Child Protection for the Grand Island diocese, attended a similar retreat facilitated by Stubbs in Atlanta. She said she and the other participants were moved by the event.

“It is based on the Stations of the Cross and provides a number of very powerful messages,” she said. Those messages to retreatants, she said, included: first, there is nothing that you have been through that Christ cannot empathize with; second, that God loves you, he created you to love and be loved and the abuse that you experienced was not his plan for you; and third, when you join your suffering to Christ’s, powerful things can happen.

The retreat includes daily Mass, group rosary, adoration, Stations of the Cross, Veneration of the Cross and opportunities for reconciliation and spiritual direction.

“We recognized that we didn’t have anything like this for survivors,” said Cheryl Albright, Outreach Coordinator/Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Grand Island. “We wanted to learn from Sue (Stubbs), who has done this for a number of years and has been successful. We wanted to implement the program in our diocese.”

A similar retreat for women took place in August 2019 at Camp Comeca.

“It is well worth the investment of their time and money,” one attendee said. “The healing that came from being in fellowship with others who have experienced similar abuse is something rare and something difficult to put into words.”

“I was hoping to gain knowledge and support to help me on my healing journey and that expectation was definitely met at the retreat,” she said.

She added that she was surprised by how easy it was to talk about things that are often difficult, and described it as a warm and welcoming atmosphere, a feeling of safety she felt immediately.

“The most significant things I took from the retreat was the overwhelming love and acceptance God has for us,” she said. “Wrapping the pain of my abuse in the suffering Jesus endured for me and then accepting and absorbing the love he has for me was truly life changing.”

For more information, visit gidiocese.org/safe-environment/victim-assistance. To request an application, email bheidt@gidiocese.org or call Kozisek 308-382-6565. The deadline to register is March 11.

Those interested in donating toward the $250 per-attendee cost of the retreat should visit gidiocese.org/safe-environment/victim-assistance, contact the Grand Island diocese’s Child Protection Office at 308-382-6565 or email cpo@gidiocese.org.