By RENEE WEBB
Those who have been wounded spiritually and emotionally by an abortion are invited to embark on a healing journey provided by a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat.
For the first time, this retreat for post-abortive women and men will be held within the Diocese of Sioux City. The retreat is slated for July 28 to 30 and will be held at Domus Trinitatis in rural Carroll.
According to the local organizer, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the confidential nature of the process, Rachel’s Vineyard helps heal wounded hearts so the forgiveness of God can be embraced.
“It’s not a matter of Jesus forgiving them. It’s about them allowing the forgiveness and love to come into their heart and soul,” she said. “Because of the guilt, shame, secrets and darkness they keep themselves in, they often do not open themselves to receive forgiveness.”
The Rachel’s Vineyard retreat process was developed more than 20 years ago by Theresa Burke, Ph.D., and is currently offered in 48 states and about 40 countries.
The local organizer explained that great care is taken to ensure the same retreat process is used in every location. This retreat requires there to be a mental health professional – trained in post-abortive counseling – as part of the retreat team that also includes a priest and volunteers praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel at Domus Trinitatis.
“The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat offers a unique sensory-based treatment which integrates emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions. The healing journey uses creative ‘Living Scripture Exercises,’ and rituals which engage the mind, body and soul,” states the retreat guidebook. “This program provides a safe and effective recovery process for victims of trauma and those who have spent years in talk therapy, but who still struggle to move beyond their traumatic experience.”
The local organizer explained the reenactment of Gospel stories, the sacraments, prayer and group activities leads to discussions that provide for effective processing of grief which is enhanced by the uninterrupted weekend format.
“It’s grounded in Jesus Christ and the word of God,” she stressed. Participants will not only have time to mourn and grieve their children, but “will also be able to unite themselves to Jesus through the Paschal mystery of their own lives, rising with Christ in glory.”
As they mend their wounds, participants will learn how to affirm others at the retreat, how to build a spiritual relationship with their aborted child and ultimately how to live a fuller life.
“I am honored and truly humbled to be called to such a beautiful, healing ministry so infiltrated by the Holy Spirit,” said the local organizer, who noted they are seeking post-abortive women to be part of the retreat team. They are also in need of prayer shawls to be donated for the retreat.
The retreat culminates with a memorial service and Mass of Entrustment. Mothers, fathers, boyfriends, husbands, friends and other family members can be invited by the participants.
“This is encouraged because it restores family support back to a person who has been in secrecy, silence and shame,” said the local organizer, who has been involved in pro-life work for several years. “A lot of times the wound is so deep, that they want to share it with someone who shares their pain.”
She stressed the fact there is no specific timeframe on grief after an abortion.
“It can be immediate to decades later,” the organizer said. “Whatever your time span may be, please seek the love, compassion and healing that is waiting for you.”
Through the years, various religious leaders have endorsed the retreat, including a saint. St. Teresa of Calcutta often mentioned that Jesus came to call sinners, not the self-righteous. The saint said Rachel’s Vineyard brings God’s tender love and compassion to those who need his peace so much.
“The heart of Jesus is so tender, so full of love and compassion, so thirsting to love us and be loved by us. He has made our hearts for himself and, as St. Augustine says, our hearts are restless until they rest in him. I pray that all who use this book with the longing to be healed by Jesus, may find him, the source of true joy, peace and love,” said St. Teresa of Calcutta. “May Rachel’s Vineyard be an instrument of the thirst of Jesus to heal and restore to life, the fullness of life which Jesus promised, even now to those seeking his peace.”
For more information about the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat call (712) 943-5550 or email RachelsHelpersOfIowa@gmail.com. Cost of the retreat is $200.