Pastoral Care of Women Who Have Left the Convent

In the fall of 2014, I got on a train to enter the convent. I was happy and healthy, with an intact family, great friends, a list of accomplishments I was proud of, and no history of mental health trouble, having passed my psychological evaluation with scarcely a blip. Ten months later, I discerned to leave. I reentered the world anguished and spiritually disoriented, with almost no clothes, no phone, no computer, no money, no prospects, and most of my relationships in a state of serious disruption.

I hoped that within a year or so I would be back to my old self, but it wasn’t to be. I spent the next not one, not two, but three years battling anxiety and depression. I struggled to find a job. I would have spells of nausea and faintness that would send me to the couch for hours at a time. For long stretches I was unable to go a day without crying. On good days I could make it to 8 or 9 p.m. before breaking down; on bad days I would have to excuse myself at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. As time went on, I started to think “I should be better by now.” I believed there was something wrong with me for having such an extreme response, and I was afraid to tell anyone how bad it really was.

It wasn’t until a few years passed and I started to speak to other women who had discerned out of the convent that I realized I was far from the only one. A little digging on the internet provided me with still more proof. Leaving the convent can be an extraordinarily painful experience, and it didn’t seem like the average priest or layperson had any idea.

My intention for this article is not to guilt trip or to play the victim. I simply hope to draw our attention to an area requiring a unique kind of pastoral care. Women have been leaving the convent since the Church’s earliest days, there are more of these women out there right now than you may think, and they will continue leaving the convent for years to come. It is a natural and necessary part of the discernment process. My hope is that, through sharing my own experience, as well as through sharing some of the research I have discovered, that I will shed some light on the truth: that, for very real psychological reasons, the experience of leaving the convent is much more complicated and difficult than, say, leaving a job, a school, or even a boyfriend. I also hope to provide enough achievable, concrete suggestions that spiritual directors, confessors, counselors, and mentors of women who have left the convent will feel a little more equipped to point them in the right direction.

The Science

Statistically, about one in two women who enter the convent will discern to leave before making their final vows. This means that for every beautiful and happy nun you see walking around, there is at least one woman out there who weathered the transition out of the convent. Studies show that women’s experiences of this transition vary widely. Some don’t have trouble with it at all. Some, however, experience it as a downright trauma and, depending on various factors, may respond with such drastic behaviors as descending into addiction and risky activity, leaving the Church, or even contemplating suicide. Lest this sound a little rare or outlying to you, I myself can personally name someone who responded in each of these ways.

Jennifer Muñoz, in a recent doctoral dissertation through the Institute for Psychological Sciences (now Divine Mercy University), explored this phenomenon. While she had difficulty pinning down numbers, she concluded that the number of women who experience exiting the convent as a trauma is not negligible. She also suggested that the nature of this trauma is most akin to that of losing a spouse or getting a divorce. It makes sense: the religious life, after all, is fundamentally an espousal to Christ. If a woman has begun to enter into this reality emotionally, you would expect the break from relating to Christ in this way to be correspondingly painful.

Intense emotional and behavioral responses are also not just something that affects the so-called fragile millennials. Muñoz’s research clearly shows that they have occurred consistently across all age groups, both before and after Vatican II.

In my own case, when I finally had the money and the access to a Catholic counselor that I needed, I began meeting with one, and immediately began to make marked progress. But he, too, as an ordinary layman, had little experience with convent life. When I began to describe all of the transitions that go into adjusting to life outside the convent, he said, “I’ve never even thought about that before.” But his instincts were good. He began pulling from his experience with people suffering divorce, returning members of the military, and people suffering PTSD after growing up in the inner city (my convent had been in the inner city, and this had played into my anxiety). He immediately called my experience what it was — a trauma — and set to work helping me. It was still a long journey, and sometimes I still don’t feel totally back to my old self, but I am happy to say that my depression is gone, my anxiety attacks are few and far between, and I am still an enthusiastic and practicing Catholic.

Holes in Current Pastoral Care

Along the way, I had no shortage of caring — I would even say saintly — priests who were willing to offer me a listening ear (something I am by no means discounting). The problem was that they were simply unequipped to give me any usable advice, and sometimes when they tried, it only made things worse.

In one case, my anxiety attacks were becoming more regular, and I said to a priest who was well acquainted with my situation, “I think I might have a problem.” “I don’t think so,” he said, shutting me down quite confidently, and I could tell he thought I was exaggerating, fishing for pity, or else just being overly sensitive. In another case, I distressedly told a priest similarly acquainted with my journey that I felt like I couldn’t be joyful. He responded, “Well even in Auschwitz . . .” He trailed off, but he was obviously suggesting I should be more like Maximillian Kolbe, who found supernatural ways to sustain joy under even the worst conditions of duress. In both cases, the priests failed to recognize that what I was experiencing was a psychological phenomenon beyond the immediate control of my will, that it was a fairly common experience, and that it lay beyond the scope of their expertise to fully treat. These were good priests — priests who love their priesthood, live deep lives of prayer, and lay themselves down in heroic service on a daily basis. Like my counselor, they simply hadn’t ever thought about all the implications of leaving a convent, and it didn’t add up to them that I was suffering in the ways that I claimed to be. I argue that we as a Church need to invest some time and energy into equipping them for this very situation. As more women enter convents, more will discern out, leaving them in need of knowledgeable pastoral care.

Arguments for Investing in
Women Who Have Left Convents

If the fact that women who have left the convent are still daughters of God, infinitely loved and worthy just because they are, and that exercising compassion toward the suffering is a humane thing to do and part and parcel to the Gospel — even if these were not reason enough why we should extend conscientious pastoral care to women who have left the convent, there are also some very good practical reasons. They have received deep formation not readily available to most laypeople. They have spent significant time in prayer, and their knowledge, gifts, and spiritual preparation make them an enormous asset to the Church’s mission of evangelization and service.

One woman I know who spent three years in religious life, after going back to school, went on to write materials for a young women’s spiritual mentoring program, and later became a diocesan marriage prep coordinator. She said of her convent experience, “Religious life gave me a deep appreciation of the value of formation, and I’ve brought that experience to my ministry work with both teens and couples. . . . People are actually thirsting for this formation.”

Another woman I know also spent about two and a half years in religious formation with a teaching order before discerning to leave for health reasons, and she now exercises ministry by teaching in a bilingual school in Texas. She has been vocal in speaking up for the dignity of the immigrant during this difficult moment in our nation, as well as active in helping to solicit humanitarian aid for the border. She says of her convent experience, “I will always carry a piece of the convent and their charism in my heart, and the way I live, love, and teach is better because of it.”

I myself caught the bug of evangelization during my time in the convent, and afterward I discharged that passion through getting involved with a project to found a first-of-its-kind parish missionary program in my home diocese. While the program was ultimately unable to sustain itself due to recruitment issues, my convent formation supplied me with tools for community living that proved vital to keeping the household together. My fellow missionaries and I succeeded in founding a women’s ministry that provides spiritual nourishment and fellowship for women to this day, and it later gave rise to a parallel men’s ministry.

All of our convent formation has borne great fruit in the Church, but it wouldn’t have if we had ended up in the unfortunately well-populated category of former religious and seminarians who leave the Church.

A Few Concrete Suggestions

As I said above, I did not intend this article to be a guilt trip for busy priests who already feel overwhelmed by the demands they face every day. I also do not have illusions that my singular experience or research make me an expert on this issue. I simply hope to offer my own testimony, and to suggest that the phenomenon of women having trauma-like reactions to the experience of leaving the convent is real, it’s not marginal, and it’s in our interest to address. I also want to emphasize that addressing it is highly doable, so here are a few practical things that could help.

  1. Priests and others responsible for the care of souls can educate themselves and others on the fact that trauma-like reactions to leaving the convent are fairly common. If a priest meets a woman who has recently left the convent, he can be sure that she is in a spiritually and emotionally vulnerable state, and that a little TLC would not be amiss. She may not want to have a heart-to-heart chat about it right away, but he can at least bear her situation in mind when, say, greeting her at Mass or hearing her confessions. And if at any point he recognizes that she is having a seemingly disproportionate response to leaving the convent and suggests that she talk to a mental health professional, his words can have great power in giving the woman the encouragement she needs to seek help, and can head off years of needless suffering or even the loss of her soul. This recognition can also stop him short of doing further damage, either by minimizing the situation, moralizing the woman’s emotions, or dismissing her experience outright. (Incidentally, this goes for all of the various traumas that are becoming more and more common in our society — divorce, abuse, addiction, etc.)
  2. Counselors can avail themselves of Jennifer Muñoz’s research, and even consider offering free sessions to women who have left the convent. There is a ragtag little ministry for women who have left the convent called Leonie’s Longing. Several women I have spoken to have found the Leonie’s Longing blog to be an incomparable comfort during the time of their transition. Leonie’s Longing also purports to offer three free sessions of phone counseling to women in need who cannot afford to pay. About a year and a half into my anxiety and depression, when I was starting to think that maybe it wasn’t going to go away on its own, I reached out to Leonie’s Longing and asked to be connected to their counselor. The problem? The counselor was not licensed to serve clients outside of her home state. If you are a counselor capable of supplying phone or tele-counseling and you feel so moved, offering your services through Leonie’s Longing can be a very concrete way of serving women who are suffering after leaving the convent. Additionally, you can educate yourself through reading the research of Muñoz and others like her so that you will not have to fumble around in the dark once you begin.
  3. Those involved in formation — of priests, religious, and even laypeople — can begin to talk about this phenomenon in national forums. This is an issue we need to talk about. Perhaps we are afraid that if we admit that leaving the convent is as hard as it is, people will be less inclined to enter. On the contrary, I believe that if we talk about it, talk will lead to action — to the conscientious care and support of women as they transition out of the convent — and it will ultimately strengthen vocations initiatives. Women will be more inclined to enter if they know they will be supported even if they discern to leave. But when I was discerning, people often said things like, “Try it, and if you don’t like it, you can always leave,” as if leaving were quick, easy, and emotionally uninvolved. But this is not reality. Everyone ultimately benefits when a person finds his or her vocation, whether as a priest or religious or not. There is no reason why priests and religious cannot coordinate to make sure women are accompanied at every stage of their transition out of the convent.
  4. Catholic writers and bloggers can do their part, too. Dr. Randall B. Smith made a great start in his 2017 article for Catholic World Report, in which he discussed the ways that seminaries and religious orders could soften the transition on their end, and laypeople could think differently about the vocations of the men and women they receive back into their ranks. Incidentally, that article fell into the hands of my counselor right as I was beginning to work with him, and when he passed it on to me, just the knowledge that someone out there was seeing this issue was a consolation. Doing the legwork of collecting data and telling women’s stories can serve as a great engine to move the Church in a direction of more effective pastoral care.

The Bottom Line

There are many legitimate reasons why women who have left the convent fall through the cracks. Religious orders, when a woman transitions out, must often cut ties with her for the sake of preventing both her and the women who remain from experiencing the pain of separation again and again. Parish priests often don’t even know when a woman in this position has entered their parish. My hope is that by raising this issue and by naming it in unambiguous terms, everyone involved will recognize a little better what’s at stake and begin to think proactively about where they can take responsibility for closing the gap in pastoral care, retaining these uniquely formed and gifted individuals, and administering to them the balm of healing that the Lord so longs to give.

Rachel M. Daly About Rachel M. Daly

Rachel Daly was born and raised in upstate New York and studied English literature at the University of Dallas. After a year as a postulant in a religious community, she worked in parish evangelization and book publishing before returning to school. She is now in a graduate program in English literature at the Catholic University of America.


  1. As a man, I left the seminary, I was featured in the book “Goodbye Good Men.” I had was a Navy combat veteran who earned a graduate degree before entering religious life so I thought I could manage religious life. Nothing prepared me for the hard-core unemployment, the lack of money or the psychological trauma upon leaving seminary. Thank you for addressing this topic.

  2. Avatar Philippa Martyr says:

    Wonderful article, speaking as an ex-temporary professed (I left an enclosed order in late 2007). I know that I and other ex-members of religious communities have usually carried a heavy burden of shame, and of feeling – and being made to feel – like a complete failure. This is partly caused by some religious houses’ ways of forming people, eg. ‘If you have a vocation and you leave, you will never be truly happy again’ (yes, this is an actual quote from my own experience).

    But it’s also partly caused by the perceptions of the community you return to: the too-proud parents who now have to explain to everyone that you’re back, the friends who moved on because they assumed you were gone for good. And of course the judges and juries who decide you were too weak, too sinful, too flawed, too crazy, too sane, too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too beautiful, too ugly, too smart, too dumb, too whatever to ‘succeed’ in the vocation to which you felt called.

    Above all, you have a lot of grief on top of the shame. The grief is real: you had something beautiful, even if it was really hard, but it’s gone now, and you feel that loss. You can miss your ex-sisters or brothers, and it’s very hard to stay in contact with them for the reasons Rachel Daly points out. The longer you are in the community, the deeper the grief. The grief of those who leave after perpetual profession is immense.

    It IS like being divorced, which is also something Catholics find hard to talk about. But no one leaves religious life for frivolous reasons. It’s usually come after a very long and agonizing process of realizing that you can’t do this any longer, even with the best will in the world, and even trusting in God’s grace absolutely. No one just flounces out. People who leave have suffered a great deal before they leave, and they suffer a great deal afterwards. There are Catholics who think this is good and a just punishment; usually the same ones who think divorced Catholics should be given a hard time because they let the rest of us down.

    I know my ex-sisters and I – all of whom are practising Catholics still, and who are what you might call ‘traditionally minded’ Catholics – were amazed to find much more kindness and understanding from so-called ‘liberal’ Catholics when we left. This may confirm some people’s suspicion that liberal Catholics are terrible people, but I can tell you that at the time, it was very welcome.

    • great answer. i can relate. it took me 10 years after leaving the convent to realize that I was in trouble spiritually and emotionally. I have been in therapy for almost 4 years and I couldn’t have made it this far without my therapist. I bothered me so much that I could not find help within the church….meainig within the diocese. Maybe they help seminarian but that is not the case with sisters. I believe that some times, they don’t even know that someone in their diocese actually entered the convent. Like you, I suffered trauma while I was in…and trauma when I left…sigh

  3. Same thing with men. I left the monastery two years ago and I still feel anxious and disoriented. It is exactly like breaking a marriage, a trauma to any real catholic. (I was married before my conversion, many years ago, so I know what I am talking about.) We really need pastoral care.

  4. I wonder if there is something similar for men. I was in a monastery for a number of years and experienced variious challenges after leaving.

  5. Thank you for publishing this, just recently passed the one year mark of being out after being in a contemplative community for 6 years ( temp prof). Keep feeling overwhelmed and disoriented. I’m considering moving closer to some of my other ex-sister friends because I feel like they are the only ones who understand where I’m at. They truly are like real sisters to me and I’m blessed to have them in my life

  6. Avatar Amelia Koch says:

    Thank you so much for this article and for those who have posted comments of personal experience. I am 10 years out after over 15 years in a new community of women religious. I never imagined going into it that it would all end so painfully. I ended up finding help outside the church through an organization ICSA, International Cultic Studies Association. They connected me with a Catholic counselor who was knowledgeable about what I was going through. ICSA also had a lot of info online that was helpful. I found Leonies Longing also, but it did not come close to reflecting the intense pain, confusion, anguish I was going through (and still do). I very much appreciate that this article has been published.

    • Hi Amelia. I often tell people that being in a religious community was like being in a cult and now I’m de-programming. An intelligent, well respected priest first put those words to my experience for me. Thank you for mentioning ICSA; it validates what I’ve been saying and makes me feel less isolated in this regard.

  7. Avatar Anne Marie says:

    This was really, really good! Thank you for sharing! To clarify, we are actually all “espoused” to Christ at Baptism, though with religious sisters also being an “eschalogical sign” of what we will all be in Heaven of having only God as our Bridegroom and are a visible sign to us of how we are each a “bride of Christ” in the Church. We are all called to a spousal relationship with God and His love for us is not less when we leave religious life. A few of the resources out there that may be beneficial in unbrainwashing us from some things we may have been told or led to believe: the Catechism of the Catholic Church (i.e. CCC 796), the book “Jesus Our Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told” by Brant Pitre, various things from this Abiding Together podcast episode on the renewal of religious life:, this post on Leonie’s Longing titled Hope O My Soul (as well as at least another post on the topic):, some Theology of the Body stuff, Danielle Rose’s song called The Saint that Is Just Me:, beautiful reflections that came to a former religious sister in prayer (that I won’t be sharing on here right now!), etc etc. For those of us ladies who discerned a religious vocation & entered a religious community, we may have had the opportunity to enter more into the mystery of God’s love for us as our Divine Bridegroom & the intimacy He desires to have with each person & our call to eternal life with God in Heaven – our vocation with a capital “V”. This is a gift He wants us to keep, go deeper into, and share with others. What I realized at some point after leaving a religious community that I had been in for almost three years was that what I actually was desiring deep down was/is to be forever with God in Heaven, not religious life.

  8. I wrote a response here as God seems to be highlighting the particular need for response.
    Thank you for taking time to write this.

    • Avatar Jeanne Marroquin says:

      This puts words to my experience of leaving religious life. I’m so grateful for Rachel’s article and for your sharing this powerful reflection Esther. It’s heart wrenching. I feel retraumatized BUT I feel seen, known, accompanied.

      • Jeanne, i feel a lot of this is coming to light because God is desiring to do a deep healing. At the beginning of the year Jesus asked me to take a deep dive not only into my own pain but also into the stories cf so many that know this deep and vulnerable pain. I suppose I could say I was “retraumatized” but it was because Jesus was not satisfied with me living any longer believing that He had rejected me. I had to face the pain at the very was a personal Holy Week given just to me. This resulted in God highlighting that those who identify with this pain and yet cry out to him are those that fill their lamps and wait at the deepest level. That they are those who echo most the cry of Eve having been banished from the garden. It is a blessed thing to have a wound that only God can heal!

  9. Avatar Anne Marie Schmidt says:

    A couple of other good resources came to mind early this morning! There is a book “Awakening Love – An Ignatian Retreat with the Song of Songs” by Fr. Gregory Cleveland (though I still need to read more of that one!) and the book/booklet titled “Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations. Contemplating Christ’s Love for His Bride the Church” by Debbie Staresinic. The meditation for the first luminous mystery even begins by stating: “In Baptism, the soul becomes the Bride of Christ. It cleanses us from sin and prepares us for the ‘wedding day’. ‘Baptism… is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath that precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church – 1617). There is an upcoming “Building a Eucharistic Marriage” marriage enrichment program at my parish and in the description it mentions one of the seven areas of focus being “Listening to the heart of our spouse as well as to the heart of our Heavenly Spouse – Jesus”. :). The Sacrament of Marriage is meant to be a sign of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church (with each member of the Church also being the “bride”!). As a certain former religious sister I know has beautifully written: “The Divine Bridegroom loves each spouse, every Christian, as if he or she were the only one He has to love…So when a man marries a woman, he shares in Christ’s spousal love for that person, and the same for a woman in relation to her husband. It shows that each person is worth an exclusive, all-attention love, which is the sort of love Christ shows each person. When someone marries, they share in and give witness to Christ’s spousal love for the person they marry. As for persons in the varied states of consecrated life, they give witness to the fact that Christ is also worth an exclusive love.”

  10. Thank you for your article – I have never recovered from the trauma of being sent out if the convent after 10 years of being in the convent – after Even being appointed novice mistress for 3 years after the founder passed – i was told to leave due to “obedience” well it was due to politics for sure. none the less what i went through and still go through 20 yearslater i s trauma because it is all attached to God and the relationship between He and I and the church – it is only by Gods loving grace that I am still a faithful church going Catholic today – thank you for addressing this . And to add a note when i returned to my home diocese and looked for help they said they couldn’t help me because i came from a convent in another diocese!

  11. I think I was one of the lucky ones and may offer a possible solution, though I understand how it isn’t the same in every order. I had done 4 years with the missionaries of charity. I was sent home due to health issues, which in some ways was a blessing. They usually are quite fast with the transition from convent to home. It felt like divorce for me, yet I was somewhat prepared. The sisters helped knowing what that would mean. My mistress guided me before I left letting me know that there will be a hard transition. Once home I had a house for the MCs there, they fully took me under their wing. Calling me to do things for them. Helping with catechism. They got me going and kept me sane. That’s a bit the MC way and to this day I know their just as much my family as my own. The order took the responsibility of easing me back and helping me, including finances in some ways. They still take care of me and are a true witness to their charism. I understand that’s not possible for every order but having the religious community ease you back I have thought greatly beneficial because of my familiarity with their life and a kind of reconciliation with Gods plan as I felt less rejected. Possibly if it’s within the order to do so, taking the initiative on their end to ease those with them back to life out in the world would help. Whether through preparation before leaving or in my case, keeping them involved and busy. Is this realistic? I don’t know, but it helped me. They even made sure I had a spiritual director to go to who had helped others that had left religious life. Maybe God knew I’d have been a basket case, who knows, but I truly wish others the same opportunity.

  12. I was just talking with a fellow ex-religious about my comment and felt I should say trying going to a missionaries of charity near you. Their kind of bossy but in the best kind of way. You show up and they don’t bat an eye. Just be aware if you volunteer yourself they will phone you to see if your free for many things. Driving across the country, I joke not. They have daily mass every morning 7:00am except thursdays it’s their day in, you can still go but I think it’s at 7:30 unless they say otherwise. Join in prayer if you want mid day at 12. Not every religious is perfect but I can’t see them messing with their fourth vow. If your lost come on down. Lol, because of their day mass they usually know a lot of priest and could recommend you someone. It may not help everyone but I hope it does. Their all the same wherever you go, so I fully expect the same encounter.

  13. Thank You for writing this article! Is there a way I can get in touch with the author? It really spoke to me.

  14. Avatar psychologist says:

    The exit “trauma” described by the author is probably an Adjustment Disorder (AD), which is a well-known diagnosis to psychiatrists and psychologists who conduct evaluations of high functioning adults. AD is classed under diagnostic domain of “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders.” AD is often found with acute anxiety or depression, that can last from 3 to 6 months. Most resolve on their own, but some deepen into other mental disorders. In addition to leaving a religious house or seminary, AD is common in divorce, sudden death of a close relative or friend, job termination, and other unexpected or abrupt major transitions in a person’s life; the more abrupt or unexpected the transition, the more likely AD will develop. An effective way to treat AD is to stay employed, or find a job, and seek counseling/medication for trauma-like symptoms, especially anxiety, and keeping in communication with a trusted friend. Counseling/life coaching can help maintain life skills. If persistent anger becomes an issue that interferes with long term recovery, there is Forgiveness Therapy that will help.

    • Psychologist, your “diagnosis” is lacking in empathy and compassion. This kind of response from professionals, priests, or other religious people can be retraumatizing in that it fails to provide an attuned response. It is unfair to generalize categorize or to label our experience. Some of us experienced spiritual, emotional, psychological abuse in community life. You haven’t met us in person. Calling our exit trauma experience an Adjustment Disorder is professionally irresponsible and could cause more harm than good.

      • I agree with Jeanne. It was far more than “Adjustment Disorder.” I did hold a very good job after leaving religious life, but while appearing just fine to everyone around me, I was far from it. God Himself saved me–upon returning to the Church after a 20-year absence–a confessor made the comment that I had made a mistake in not trying again. That started me on a path which resulted in my re-entering religious life and finding once again the joy and fulfillment that I thought I had lost forever.

  15. Ann in Ohio Ann in Ohio says:

    This is a beautiful and necessary article, judging by the many excellent comments. I’m also glad to learn about Adjustment Disorder.

  16. Avatar Anne Marie says:

    After reading the psychologist’s post, I am going to address a few things. Here it goes. No two experiences are exactly the same for women who’ve been in a religious community, though there can be certain similarities, and entering/being in/leaving can have A LOT more involved than the loss of one person or job. I’m not going to share much about that here, but this blog-post touches upon a few things anyway: Women who used to be in a religious community are in need of empathy, compassion, understanding, & need to feel welcomed by the Church. Having a formula or label put on all women in a particular category & their experiences could potentially be harmful. Furthermore, forgiveness is important & it’s an act of the will, but the healing of memories (such as from ways wounded by certain religious), of one’s image of God, and of being able to more quickly recognize & drop different lies can take longer. God may also lovingly go deeper & deeper over time, such as while before His perfect gaze of love in Eucharistic Adoration. As time went on after leaving, it has probably been in His Presence where I’ve received the most healing. God is so Good.

  17. Avatar Philippa Martyr says:

    Psychologist: It’s not just adjustment disorder. Some religious orders are run more like cults, and those who exit often have PTSD. Then you have to factor in the spiritual dimension, where the man or woman has had their entire relationship with God and the Church disrupted.

    The healing program Grief to Grace can be really helpful for ex-religious, because it addresses the PTSD and the spiritual dimension. It’s available in London, in several cities in the US, and in Australia. I’ve done the program myself and now help to deliver it.

  18. Avatar Philippa Martyr says:

    The international website for the program is here:

  19. Avatar A Priest says:

    Thank you for the honest and informative article. Other healing ministries in the Church that may be helpful to those who are hurting are Dr. Bob Schuchts and the JPII Healing Center ( and Unbound book and ministries with Neal Lazano (