A Catholic Guide to Pursuing Wholeness in 2024

Three Christ-centered organizations provide care and accompaniment for well-being.

Well-being is achieved through encounters with Christ the Divine Physician.
Well-being is achieved through encounters with Christ the Divine Physician. (photo: Unsplash)

In a society permeated by anxiety and perplexed by rising levels of stress and  distress, Catholicism is uniquely  positioned to accompany those suffering spiritually, mentally  and physically. 

There are a number of Catholic organizations that provide care and accompaniment for those seeking wholeness in these healing ministries through encounters with Christ the Divine Physician.

Here are three:



 Founded by Catholic therapist Isaac Wicker and Catholic psychologist Matthew Breuninger, KNOWN: Embraced by the Heart of the Father is, as  Breuninger explains, “a 12-week, online Catholic identity-coaching program that helps participants experience themselves as beloved sons and daughters of the Father through encountering the love of God the Father.”

KNOWN was born  from what  Breuninger  describes as “our friendship and mutual passion  for integrating faith and psychology.” Describing his friend’s approach  to healing,  Breuninger notes, “Isaac’s love for walking with those who were experiencing  mental- health struggles began in college, where he encountered  difficult moments in his own personal mental- health journey and accompanied friends who were similarly  struggling.” When the two met at a Catholic psychotherapy conference, they  discovered that Wicker’s approach dovetailed with  Breuninger’s research on what he terms   “God attachment.”

 “If our primary attachment is insecure, almost everything is scary and we go about life anxious,” Wicker says. “From a stronger attachment to God, we come to know our own identity and safety and grow into our potential.”

KNOWN meets participants wherever they are at in their attachment to God. “The approach of KNOWN is practical and focused on giving participants the spiritual and psychological tools which allow the Father to find space in their lives and begin to heal their distorted images of h im and of themselves,”  Breuninger says. Routines like tech fasting from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and candlelight after 9 p.m. invite participants to make space for God to show up. 

Wicker says that a common struggle people face is “loving themselves and accepting love from others and  themselves. At the bottom of a lot of struggle tends to be a very harsh  critical view of who I am. The deepest wound is around someone’s identity:  W ho  I am, and am I good?  A lot of external anxiety and depression builds on this:  Am I loved? Am I lovable? Can someone know me  and love me?” Wicker sees his vocation as a therapist as a response to these  questions: “My primary work is to see people and love them. A lot of what I do  is delight in people and show them their goodness. To be able to see the depth  of love, the depth of courage  that happens when people suffer is amazing. I get to reflect that to people.” 

What is the hope for those joining the KNOWN program? “To be saints,” Wicker says. “But saints that are fully human, people who are so willing to be themselves,  loved by God. And that’s where I think things get so interesting — to discover yourself loved by God in whatever  circumstance you are in allows you to be dynamic, to make change, to be  yourself.” The experiences of recent KNOWN participants   echo Wicker’s hopes: “The closeness and love I felt during KNOWN was like   nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Kathy said, while Glenda shared, “When I gave   God an inch, he moved more in 12 weeks than I’ve seen him work in the most   guarded parts of my heart ever.”

Wicker and Breuninger are so passionate about KNOWN that they wish to make it accessible to everyone. If the price isn’t within one’s budget, they need only reach out and request  financial assistance. The next cohort starts Jan.  18 . (Visit  KnownbytheFather.com for more information.)


John Paul II Healing Center 

Founded by now-retired family therapist  Bob Schuchts and friends, the John Paul II Healing Center, in  Tallahassee, Florida,  was born of a “life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit” on a “Christ Renews His Parish” retreat. As Dr. Schuchts explains, “Many members of my family and fellow professionals also experienced deeper conversion to Christ during that season of life. These events deeply impacted our relationships with God and with one another and eventually led to establishing the John Paul II Healing Center about 15 years ago.” 

With a mission to “promote and inspire transformation in the heart of the Church, by healing and equipping God’s people for the New Evangelization,” the John Paul II Healing Center offers a variety of “healing and equipping conferences for clergy, religious, and laity” as well as “resources (books, talks, workbooks  and virtual conferences) to help facilitate Transformation in the Heart of the Church for everyone who desires deeper healing and conversion or wants to serve others in this way.”

Some of these conferences include the “Healing the Whole Person” r  etreats for those who are seeking healing from wounds;  “Undone” for women who are seeking freedom from sin and shame and  have a desire to grow closer to the Blessed Mother;  and “Unveiled” for couples seeking to strengthen their relationship. There are also retreats dedicated to serving religious and clergy. Each conference has a focus on freeing the person to be more fully alive in Christ.

Schuchts says that a common struggle he sees today is suffering because of wounds: “People everywhere are suffering and in need of healing from their soul wounds, which are the result of personal and relational sin. At the John Paul II Healing Center, we help people identify the root issues underlying their sins and daily suffering.” In offering “a safe environment, teaching which is faithful to the Church, and opportunities for encountering Jesus’ healing love,” the John Paul II Center responds to this suffering with compassion and hope in each participant’s restoration. 

“Our greatest hope,” says  Schuchts, “is for the Church to be fully alive in Christ as its leaders and parishioners receive their own healing and become conduits leading others into healing encounters with Christ. We also have the hope that every Catholic will experience the healing power of the sacraments.” A recent Healing the Whole Person retreatant, Sister Teresa  shared, “I powerfully experienced the Father’s delight in me,” while another  retreatant, Katherine, noted, “I experienced living with God, not just  checking in with him from time to time.” 

Schuchts invites everyone seeking Jesus’ healing to consider attending a conference or to find a book or talk from the  online store: “Jesus’ healing is for everyone who desires it. So, everyone is invited. We desire to serve the whole Church  and beyond — to all who come with an open heart to receive.” (Find more information at JPIIHealingCenter.org.)


Reform Wellness

 Founded by holistic nutritionist and wellness practitioner Jackie Mulligan, Reform was born of a healing experience Mulligan had in adoration in 2016. “I realized that to be wholly well I had to invite Jesus into the center of all aspects of my life, and to help others be well, I had to invite others to do the same, ” she says. 

The Christ-centered approach to Reform is made clear in the graphic of a  monstrance depicting the apostolate’s “Nine Wellness Pillars.” The pillars represent areas in which Mulligan  and her team help people (re)claim wholeness. At the center of the monstrance  is “Faith”; the other eight pillars form the rays  radiating from the center: “Stress  Management,” “Community,” “Personal Growth,” “Space,” “Functional Movement,” “Play,” “Nutrition”  and “Sleep.” 

As Mulligan explains, “A ll pillars are connected to and informed by Christ at the center; Jesus is the heartbeat of Reform.” Each person who comes seeking wholeness through Reform is helped to develop an individualized plan of growth in these areas. 

Reform offers a variety of ways for participants —   both religious and laity — to engage with the apostolate. “Reform Online,” Reform’s foundational online course, allows individuals to move through a self-paced online program detailing the pillars and gives them access to Reform’s wellness practitioners and online resources. There is also an option to take Reform Online around a particular topic, like the  “Body Image Cohort” that  began on Jan.  1  (and is  still open to those who would like to join).  Mulligan shares that Reform’s next step is to create a Eucharistic Wellness Center in Virginia, which the Reform website describes as “a place to nourish [retreatants]  souls with the Holy Eucharist, their bodies with whole foods, and their minds with solitude in nature. This is a place to learn how we were meant to live. It is a place to experience the fullness of life in Christ — a taste of heaven on earth” in the context of an in-person retreat experience. 

Bridget Vander Woude, Reform’s chief wellness officer, says that those who come to Reform experience struggle across various physical and spiritual realms: “Physically, some of the most common difficulties include stress, burnout, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, gut issues, autoimmune disease  and sleep dysfunction. Spiritually and psychologically, there is often anxiety or depression, lack of faith, self-reliance, striving for ‘success’ as the world has defined it, and an inability to fully surrender to God’s will.” 

For the team at Reform, helping participants maintain health and healing long  term is the goal, and the key to achieving this goal is rootedness in Christ. As  Vander Woude  explains, “We respond to these struggles by inviting others to consider their health as the state of their body and soul with Christ at the center. Without a Christ-centered approach to healing, change is not meaningful or sustainable because it is outside of h im. Through the framework of our nine Wellness Pillars we provide an integrative approach to considering all areas of our well-being as a whole person.” (More information about Reform can be  found at  ReformWellness.co).

Mulligan hopes that all Reform participants will “give Jesus prime real estate in their lives” and “be fully reliant on and confident in the Divine Physician.” She believes that Reform is truly for every person: “Reform is for everyone because wholeness and holiness are for everyone. No one is eliminated or disqualified from the universal call to greatness.” 

Deanne,  Miller, co-founder of SoulCore, says of her experience with Reform,   “Both as a presenter and  participant of Reform Wellness, I was able to witness the fully Catholic and Christ-centered approach Reform teaches through each of the pillars. Jackie, Dr. Bridget, and the team at Reform not only encourage stewardship and harmony of body and soul with tangible and attainable teachings, they are authentic witnesses of living out this very way of life.”

As Catholic speaker and co-author of Gift and Grit Sarah Swafford shared with the Register, “Jackie, Bridget and the entire team at Reform Wellness have poured their hearts, wisdom and desire for wholeness into an incredible program that has transformed many people’s lives. I am so grateful for the gifts I have received and continue to use every day on this Christ-centered journey.” 

Ary Scheffer, “Christus Consolator,” 1851

Human Wholeness Is Found in Christian Holiness

“The human body shares in the dignity of the ‘image of God’ — it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit.” (CCC 364)