Phones started ringing at Rachel’s Vineyard headquarters in Pennsylvania as soon as Pope Francis announced that as part of the Year of Mercy, every priest throughout the world would have the faculties to reconcile to the Church those who have had an abortion. Some had buried their guilt for decades.
As the Year of Mercy begins Dec. 8, Rachel’s Vineyard will play an important role in helping women who committed abortions in the past to find forgiveness and healing. So will the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, co-founded by Janet Morana and Georgette Forney. This Campaign enables those who have found healing to give public witness to the mercy of God by sharing their stories.
Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More even have the pope’s seal of approval: In greeting Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard, in Rome, the Holy Father said: “Rachel’s Vineyard is very good. It is an excellent work! Go forward with that!”
And in meeting Janet Morana, the Pope similarly praised the work of Silent No More around the world.
Reporters, editors, talk show hosts and news producers looking for story angles for the Year of Mercy, and Pope Francis’s offer of forgiveness for those who have lost children to abortion, can localize their stories by interviewing a Rachel’s Vineyard or Silent No More team leader in their coverage areas.
To discuss interview possibilities, please contact Leslie Palma, director of communications for Priests for Life, at 347-286-7277 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis first became acquainted with Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry active in 49 U.S. states and more than 70 countries, including Argentina. It has touched the lives of more than 250,000 people; even prisoners in a maximum-security prison in Florida are benefitting from Rachel’s Vineyard’s unique approach.
“Pope Francis stresses forgiveness and inclusion, and these are both hallmarks of Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard. “It is very encouraging to know how enthusiastic he is about our work.”
His representative in the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, also expressed strong support of our work when he joined the gathering of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in front of the Supreme Court in January 2015. The papal nuncio addressed the gathering of men, women, and families who had been healed through Rachel’s Vineyard and were now sharing their testimony publicly. He said,
“I am glad to be here in the name of Pope Francis, representing him and the mercy of God to each one of you who are taking part in this March for Life. I want to share with you the joy that God has put into our hearts, because we love Him and we want to share with you the mercy He’s given to each one of us, especially those who ask for mercy. Pope Francis said that we should ask for mercy.”
Rachel’s Vineyard founder Theresa Karminski Burke, Ph. D., discovered how deep the need for healing after abortion is while leading a support group for women with eating disorders as part of her training for degrees in psychology and counseling. An impromptu discussion of abortion led several women to display signs of emotional trauma, but when Dr. Burke brought this up to her professor, she was advised not to talk to women about abortion. So, in 1986, she founded the Center for Post Abortion Healing, one of the first therapeutic support groups for post-abortive women.
Six years later she published Rachel’s Vineyard: A Psychological and Spiritual Journey for Post Abortion Healing, a unique support group model for counselors. In 1995, Dr. Burke expanded the curriculum into a format for weekend retreats. Soon individuals seeking healing began to travel from other states to experience the healing process.
Without a budget, office or advertising, Rachel’s Vineyard became a grass-roots national outreach. By word of mouth only, the retreats began to spread across the country, from 18 retreats in 1999 to 35 a year later. In 2003, Rachel’s Vineyard became a ministry of Priests for Life. Since then, Rachel’s Vineyard has grown to more than 750 retreats annually, with many new sites in development. The retreat manual is available in 22 languages.