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The Christophers: Becoming a Wounded Healer

Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,

The Christophers’ Board of Directors


Twentieth century Dutch Catholic priest, professor, and theologian Henri Nouwen wrote, “Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’”

These words reveal what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who, through His redemptive sacrifice, meets each of us in our suffering. When we join our struggle to His suffering on the cross, we allow Him to help us carry our burden and offer up to God all we are left to bear for the good of others.

Becoming a Wounded Healer is a Christopher News Note that explores the stories of those who have learned how to move beyond tragedy so they can shower blessings on those around them, such as U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills. After an I.E.D. explosion took parts of both of his arms and both of his legs, he was left with difficulty functioning and struggling with anger towards God.

Worried he would become a burden to his wife and their baby daughter, he found relief in the prosthetics that allowed him to function, and a revolutionary treatment helped ease his pain. Soon, he turned his sights to serving others and founded the Travis Mills Foundation, which helps wounded warriors and their families realize their full potential.

In a Christopher Closeup interview about his award-winning book Tough as They Come, Travis said, “I realized it’s not okay to just be a believer when things are going your way…As much as I was upset about the situation, God had a plan for me to keep going forward.”

Sister Ave Clark of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, NY, was a healer before she became a wounded healer. The founder of Heart to Heart Ministry, she offers pastoral counseling to parents who have lost a child due to miscarriage, those with post-traumatic stress, victims of crime, survivors of suicide, survivors of abuse, post-abortive women, those dealing with depression and grief, and many others. But when a 120-ton runaway train slammed into her car while she was driving in Queens, Sister Ave was hospitalized for close to a year, undergoing intense physical therapy to be able to walk again. In a Christopher Closeup interview about her book Heart of Courage, Sister Ave recalls feeling sorry for herself for the first few days in the hospital, asking, “Why, God?” But then she began to ask a different question: “God, what am I going to do now?”

She soon found her answer in the people who came to visit her while she was waiting for therapy, waiting for lunch, or waiting for dinner. Many people began to seek her out for conversations, and rather than traveling to churches to give retreats, she was bringing healing to those in her midst. She realized, “This is where God wants me. So, there was a struggle, yes, but I think that’s part of life, too. Struggles make us stronger, sometimes in broken places.”

We find strength “in broken places” because Christ meets us there, guiding us to join Him in redemptive suffering. So, let’s never be afraid to pick up our cross because that’s where we find Christ, where we learn to love like Him, and where He leads us to the hope of the Resurrection.


For a free copy of the Christopher News Note BECOMING A WOUNDED HEALER, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail:

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