Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In a few days we will celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Like every Feast, it is a celebration of Jesus Christ. This feast shows us that because of her unique role as his mother, Mary received from Jesus a full share, body and soul, in his victory over death. The feast is a reminder that in Christ, we all will share resurrection of the body.
Mary has it now, because in the human family, which God decided to join, there can be no closer bond than mother and child. They belong together; their destinies are intertwined.
That is one of the central messages of the pro-life movement. To love and care for a mother necessarily means protecting, loving, and caring for her child. Mothers can never benefit from the destruction of their children.

Rachel’s Vineyard Establishes Medical Board

MALVERN, PA – The biannual training conference for the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard, continued in Malvern, PA, Wednesday with the formal establishment of a Medical Advisory Board.

Rachel’s Vineyard utilizes the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and other professionals in the mental health field throughout the world. They assist both on the retreats and in the development and analysis of the effectiveness of this treatment model.

The establishment of a special advisory board now formalizes what has been happening all along, but brings the added advantage of being able to present to the medical and therapeutic community a more structured method of communicating about the issues of trauma and healing after abortion.

Some of the initial members of the Advisory Board are shown in the accompanying photo along with Pastoral Director, Father Frank Pavone. They are, left to right, Cynthia Dillard, Ph.D. (clinical psychologist), Martha Schuping, M.D. (psychiatrist), and Karen B. Stevensen, M.D. (psychiatrist).

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More Strategize Together at Leadership Conference

Malvern, PA – The second full day of the Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference took place yesterday, with clergy and laity from around the world meeting for workshops that dealt with the psychological and spiritual aspects of post-abortion trauma and healing.

There was also a strong emphasis on Tuesday on the public relations aspect of post-abortion healing. Catholic media expert and broadcaster Teresa Tomeo led a number of sessions urging the post-abortion leaders to use the media to trumpet the Church’s invitation to repentance and healing, and to educate society about how harmful abortion is.

One of the ways this is done is through the testimonies of the men and women who have decided to be “Silent No More” about their experiences. Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans for Life, and Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life, co-founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Both leaders also presented at the Conference, which is being attended by Silent No More regional coordinators from around the world. The partnership between Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More is a natural one. Both are ministries of Priests for Life, and many who share their abortion testimony found their healing in Rachel’s Vineyard.

A new version of the official guidelines for Silent No More leaders was issued yesterday, and a more deliberate strategy of collaboration between Silent No More and Rachel’s Vineyard was reviewed.

Among the activities at the Conference today will be a special meeting of psychiatrists and other medical professionals who are experts in the work of Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

What is Rachel’s Vineyard?

Rachel’s Vineyard is a retreat program for women and men who have lost a child by abortion. The retreat provides an opportunity to face the wounds of abortion in a safe, affirming environment of prayer and the support of others who have been through the same experience. Through the use of “Living Scriptures,” participants are invited to place themselves into the parables and other Scriptural events, and encounter Jesus Who heals them.

These retreats, of course, are not meant to substitute for the individual, ongoing counseling that comprises the journey of post-abortion healing, but they are a stepping stone towards making those sessions even more fruitful.

Rachel’s Vineyard is the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion, and is a ministry of Priests for Life. Find out more about it at

Rachel’s Vineyard Releases New Retreat Manual as Record-setting Conference Begins

Malvern, PA – Father Frank Pavone, Pastoral Director and Chairman of Rachel’s Vineyard, along with the founders of the ministry, Dr. Theresa and Kevin Burke, released the new version of the Catholic Retreat Manual yesterday to the 250 leaders present for the bi-annual Leadership Training Conference here. Bearing the Imprimatur of the Church, this manual is the official guide on how to conduct a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, and is updated periodically based on input from those who use it.

“We are pleased with the work that was done by so many people over the past year to make the new Catholic manual possible,” Father Pavone said. “As the largest ministry in the world for healing after abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard is committed to carrying out its retreats in a way that reflects fidelity to Church teaching as well as the highest therapeutic standards of the mental health profession.

“We are blessed not only with an excellent advisory board of bishops, but with a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other professional counselors who have been carrying out these retreats for many years.”

Workshops continue today, with participants from all over the world. A media training seminar, given by Catholic media expert Teresa Tomeo, will help participants today to utilize the media to spread the Church’s urgent invitation to healing and reconciliation after abortion.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

Largest ever Rachel’s Vineyard conference opened yesterday in Pennsylvania

MALVERN, PA – “The Biblical Concept of Healing” was the topic of the keynote speech yesterday morning as the 2011 Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Retreat got underway at the Malvern Retreat Center. This year’s full-to-capacity retreat, with more than 250 participants attending from all over the world, is the largest ever.

“The Rachel’s Vineyard model for healing after abortion is highly regarded everywhere, including the Vatican,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and the morning’s keynote speaker. Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry of Priests for Life. Father Pavone noted that Dr. Theresa Burke and Kevin Burke, co-founders of Rachel’s Vineyard, were invited to address the Pontifical Academy for Life this past February.

The Priests for Life pastoral team is attending the weeklong conference, which this year also offers special resources and workshops for regional coordinators of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Campaign co-founders Janet Morana and Georgette Forney will offer classes on public speaking, media and healing workshops. The campaign is for those who have been through post-abortion healing programs and have decided to speak out about their abortion experiences.

Among the highlights of the day’s gathering was a talk by Dr. Burke on “Understanding Repeat Abortions,” and a workshop led by Father Pavone and Mrs. Morana titled “Do Post-Abortion Healing and Pro-Life Activism Mix?”

Rachel’s Vineyard began in 1994 as a unique support group model for counselors treating women who were grieving the loss of their aborted children. Rachel’s Vineyard quickly became a grassroots national outreach. From 18 retreats in 1999, the ministry now offers 700 retreats annually, in 47 states and 25 countries, with many new sites in development.

Several Bishops have attended weekend retreats themselves. Attending this week’s leadership conference is Bishop David Choby of the Diocese of Nashville.

“With this year’s theme, Disciples of Love, Witnesses of Hope, we are sure all conference attendees will be inspired with new ideas, information, and strategies to assist and rejuvenate them in their vocation to do God’s work of healing in post-abortive women and men and building a culture of life,” Dr. Burke said.

Father Benedict Groeschel, founder of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, has had high praise for Rachel’s Vineyard. “I cannot think of another work of this kind so well done. A most difficult and painful human problem is engaged with faith, psychological insight and trust.”

Visit to learn more about the ministry and to view the conference schedule.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

Blest Are They Who Seek Justice

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice; they will be satisfied. This beatitude speaks to the heart of the pro-life movement. We seek justice first of all by seeking to be right with God and in all our relationships, and we seek justice by seeking to protect the rights of all, especially the weakest among us, our brothers and sisters in the womb. We are blessed not merely by believing they have a right to life, but by feeling the hunger and thirst, the longing and yearning, that they be protected and that this right be recognized and secured by law.

We also seek justice by working to extend healing and forgiveness to all who have been involved in abortion, that they, too, will be right with God and know His peace.

Let Us Pray for All Fathers

This weekend we observe Father’s Day. We thank God for faithful fathers who, like God Himself, give and protect life. Let’s also pray for fathers who are afraid to be fathers. Thousands of times a day, children are aborted, not because of a choice of the mother, but because of the choice of a father, who fails to show the faithfulness and willingness to protect the child he has helped conceive. At other times, fathers tried to stop the abortion, but the law excludes them from the final decision about the abortion. Men do suffer grief after the abortion of their child. Healing programs are available for these fathers.

Let us pray today for all fathers. When their child is unexpected, may they welcome that child and encourage the child’s mother to say yes to life.


The wound comes from well-meaning people. “Well, it wasn’t that far along.” “You can always have another child.” “Lots of people go through this.”

Miscarriage is a tragedy that so many people misunderstand. They are not quite sure how to console a friend or relative who has suffered this loss.

While there are no magic formulas, there is one fundamental truth that needs to stay front and center: a miscarriage is the loss of a child who is just as real and has just as much value as any other child of any age. A woman who has a miscarriage is a parent who has lost a child, as is the father of the child as well.

In a society which continues to have a legal and cultural blind spot for the unborn, many suffer from the illusion that miscarriage doesn’t grieve a parent as much as the loss of, well, a “real child,” and that is precisely what hurts so much. We can never console someone in grief if we imply, even remotely, that the person they lost wasn’t real.

Dr. Byron Calhoun, President of the American Association of Pro-life Ob-Gyns, has observed that prior to 1970, the loss of a child before or during birth was often treated in medical literature as a “non-event,” but that now there is a growing awareness of the grief associated with such loss. In fact, Dr. Calhoun has developed a hospice program for unborn children.

As the medical community advances in sensitivity and understanding of these points, so must we all. Our love, our compassion, our sharing in the grief of such losses, can bring healing to the parents who have suffered miscarriage. The naming of these children who have died is one significant way of acknowledging their reality. The counting of these children matters too, so that if a parent is asked how many children he/she has, the child who died before birth is counted as one of them.

I recall the first pro-life billboard that we set up in 1990 here in our community of Staten Island, New York. It depicted a developing unborn child. One of the first phone calls I received about it was from a woman who had lost a child by miscarriage. “I can’t tell you how consoling your billboard is to me. Thank you.” That was all she said.

Perhaps the reason it was consoling was that someone was saying publicly what she knew privately: that was a real child. The life of that child matters, no matter how short it was. The death of that child matters, no matter how many may not cry. And the love I have for that child matters, even if nobody else knows.

Lord, comfort all parents who grieve the loss of their children of any age. Take them into Your loving arms, and give us strength until the day You give them back to us in heaven. Amen.

Healing is the First Priority

Hundreds of people in our nation have worked in the abortion industry, whether in Planned Parenthood or in any of the many independent killing centers, and have stopped doing so because of a moral conversion. We at Priests for Life minister to many of them. And what is the first thing that they need? They need healing. The guided effort to face what they have done and to find spiritual and psychological wholeness must be their first activity and responsibility. Only after this crucial process and careful discernment with the help of the pro-life community should those who so desire begin to share their story on the speaking circuit. Let’s pray for all those who have performed abortion, and for their healing and peace. Find out more at