Archive for February, 2015

Fr Ben Cameron: The Call to Holiness for All Touched by Abortion Loss

Friday, February 27th, 2015

 

Fr Ben Cameron

Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion:  An interview with Fr Ben Cameron of the Fathers of Mercy

 Kevin: Fr Ben can you share about your own call to priesthood and the Fathers of Mercy?

 Fr Ben: I grew up in a Catholic family in Kokomo, Indiana, that was not especially strong in the Faith during my early years.  Through the influence of a Catholic friend, my Mom began praying the rosary for my Dad to return to the sacraments (he hadn’t been to the sacraments in around 12 years) — and he did return to the sacraments within about a year’s time.  Later, we began praying the family rosary every night, which provided an anchor for our family in a spiritual sense.

I attended a Baptist high school where my Catholic Faith was attacked on about a daily basis, which led me to embrace and study it much more.  This led me to decide to attend Christendom College, where I began to really learn my Faith and to deepen my relationship with God through daily Mass and involvement with a lay apostolate called the Legion of Mary.  Through all of this, God was preparing my heart for my vocation to the holy priesthood.

After I finished college, I began to actively discern what God’s will was for my life, and I kept being drawn toward the priesthood, and toward being a religious order priest in particular.  So when I looked at various religious communities, I was very attracted to the Fathers of Mercy because of our emphasis on the Mercy of God, on preaching the Truth of our Catholic Faith through parish missions and retreats, and our emphasis on serving in rural and/or neglected areas.  I joined the Fathers of Mercy in 1992, and was ordained a priest on May 31, 1997.

Kevin: When did you come to see post abortion outreach as having a special role in your priestly ministry?

Fr Ben: Through my mission work, I began to see just how many people are wounded by abortion, and I knew that I wanted to be able to help them better than I could at that time.  This realization led me to ask my superior for permission to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat — just to learn more about it…or so I thought!
I made my Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Philadelphia in October 2004.  God began working on my heart about the ministry.  I knew that women and men in our area (Western Kentucky) would have to drive around 5 hours to Atlanta to make a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, so I prayed about it, and then asked my superior if I could start Rachel’s Vineyard in our area.  With his blessing, and the permission of the Bishop of Owensboro, I started the Rachel’s Vineyard site and team in Western Kentucky, and we have been holding the retreats there since 2006.

In the meantime, I attended the Leadership Conference in California in 2005, and gave a couple talks there, and then I was asked to speak and serve as chaplain at the Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conferences in 2007, 2009 and 2011 as well.  I have also had the honor of helping to revise the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Manual, and of giving assistance to the formation of other RV teams in the South as well.

Kevin: Can you share what are the special challenges and blessings of ministering to those with abortion loss?

 Fr Ben: One of the biggest challenges for me is to be able to give the work of Rachel’s Vineyard as much time as I would like to.  I am a full-time mission preacher and retreat master, and have administrative duties in the Fathers of Mercy as well (at this time, I am the Assistant General and Mission Director of the community).  The blessings are abundant:  I have the great privilege of witnessing the power of Our Lord’s Merciful Love in healing those women and men who have been wounded both spiritually and emotionally by abortion.  Every time that I serve on a retreat, it is an honor for me to do so, and I wish that every priest would make the time to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat — he would receive some form of healing in his own life, and he would see the power of the Lord Jesus to heal in an up-close and personal way

Kevin: Fr Ben you are founder and spiritual director of the Confraternity of our Lady of Mercy for those seeing to continue to grow spiritually after attending an abortion recovery program.  Can you explain to our readers what a confraternity is and what inspired you to create the Confraternity of our Lady of Mercy for this purpose?  Why is this important to those who have experienced abortion loss?

 Fr Ben: A Confraternity is a spiritual family.  The word comes from “Con” (In/With) and “Fraternity” (Brotherhood), so it means that we are in brotherhood with one another.  In the Church, there are many confraternities, all formed around special purposes.  From my experience working with Rachel’s Vineyard, I felt like there was a need for something more for the people after they made their retreats.  I kept praying about it, and the idea of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy literally hit me like a bolt of lightning one day during Eucharistic Adoration.

After further discernment with some of my spiritual fathers and mothers, we discerned that this idea really was something that Our Blessed Lord wanted me to carry through, and so the Confraternity was founded in 2010.  The main idea of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy is that while God wants to forgive the sin of abortion (in the Sacrament of Penance), and calls us to a deeper healing of those wounds caused by abortion (Rachel’s Vineyard and other post-abortion healing programs)…God has an even bigger goal he calls us to.   God is calling each and every one of us to the perfection of love — to holiness — and it is through the holy ones, the saints, that God always changes the world for the better.

Who better for Our Lord Jesus to use to transform our society, to bring about victory over our modern “Culture of Death” than women and men who were once in the grip of that culture?  God wants women and men who have had abortions in the past to become Saints!  It is important for each post-abortive person to embrace that call from God, and the Confraternity exists to help them to do so.

 Kevin: What has the response been like to the Confraternity and what are your reflections on the role of the Confraternity in the ongoing healing and recovery after abortion?  Please share about the group’s spirituality and practices.

The Confraternity had a slow start, but our first four and a half years we have grown to about 150 members worldwide.  Our members come from about a dozen countries thus far.  A number of the members have given me great feedback about how the Confraternity has helped them to embrace their call to holiness and to be more intentional about daily prayer, regular confession, Eucharistic Adoration, daily Mass attendance, etc.  I think that post-abortion healing and recovery is, ultimately, a life-long journey with Christ Jesus our Lord, and my hope is that the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy will help many women and men as they make that important journey.

As far as our spirituality:  it is really just the perennial spirituality of the Church, applied to our particular situation. We have a strong focus on the Holy Eucharist and the Mercy of God, and we try to live those realities more intentionally in our daily lives, and to share the Mercy of God with others by the way that we live.

Our members make a commitment (which is free-will and does not, in any way, bind under sin) to spend 15 minutes in prayer each day through either the Holy Rosary or Lectio Divina (slow, meditative reading of Sacred Scripture).  On a weekly basis, they strive to attend one extra Mass, to spend one hour in Eucharistic Adoration, and to pray one Chaplet of Divine Mercy for those who have had abortions, but have not made their peace with God yet.  Our members also strive to use the Sacrament of Confession on a monthly basis, and to make a short retreat once each year.  Again, failure in any of these practices does not involve sin — but it does give us a “baseline” to strive for as we embrace our personal call to total transformation in Christ Jesus, which is holiness.

Kevin:  What are the requirements to join the Confraternity and how can someone who is interested learn more?  Is it only for mothers and fathers of aborted children or can grandparents and siblings be considered as well who have been through a program like Rachel’s Vineyard to mourn the loss of their grandchild or siblings.

Fr Ben: To join the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, all that is required is to be willing to try to follow our “plan of life” (regarding prayer and the sacraments), and to enroll through the “Membership” page on our website (ConfraternityofOurLadyofMercy.org).

Membership is open to anyone who has been in any way touched by abortion:  mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings of aborted children; doctors, nurses and others who have participated in or encouraged abortions.  Membership is also open to those who have not been touched by abortion, but who wish to join with us spiritually and by prayers and sacramental life to be a support to our post-abortive members.

We have over 20 communities of cloistered nuns and active sisters who are “Special Prayer Partners” of the Confraternity — including all of our members in their daily lives of prayer and sacrifice as women dedicated to God by religious vows!

Does Secret Abortion Grief Silence Some African American Clergy and Politicians?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

 

David Williams

David Williams worked for 10 years with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) ministering to college students in Northeast Ohio, serving as a traveling speaker and also as a chaplain for one season with the Cincinnati Bengals.  In 2013, David decided to devote more time to his God-given passion to preach. Along with speaking, David mentors college students and ministers with Pregnancy Resource Centers to be a voice for the unborn and mentor men who have been effected by or whose partners are considering abortion.

In this interview David shares his perspective on how the Shockwaves of Abortion are impacting the African American community.

Kevin: David thanks so much for sharing your experience and insights with us today.   What’s the best place to start as we try to understand how the Shockwaves of Abortion are impacting the black community?

David: People want to understandably jump into the powerful moral, political and religious debates around this contentious issue in our society. But I think we can often fail to realize the historical perspective as we think through the issue of abortion.

To understand the unique vulnerability of the African American community to abortion, we need to look at how traumatic slavery was for the black family. Families were systematically and cruelly dismantled according to the business needs of the slavers. Men would be torn from their wives and children. They were bred like animals to create the optimal labor value for the slave businesses. Women were routinely sexually abused, raped and separated from their children. Many mothers would abort their unborn children rather than have them born into slavery.

Kevin: David how does this historical experience of systematic abuse of the black family connect with the high rate of abortion among African Americans?

African Americans were not looked at as human beings created in the image of God but something less than that. Because of this they were seen as nothing more than property to be done with however their ‘masters’ saw fit. This sinful, ungodly system of slavery, which lasted for over 200 years in our nation, I believe not only oppressed, devalued and traumatized African Americans but also ingrained in us certain mind sets about marriage, family, sex and abortion.

Now in our nation, babies in the womb, who are created in the image of God, are viewed as less than human. They are seen as nothing more than the property of the woman, who happens to be a mother, to be kept or discarded according to her choice. This is very similar to the way that African Americans were viewed during slavery. Even though laws in our nation have changed that have freed and given equal rights to African Americans the mindset among some that blacks are inferior (racism) is still alive and well. When you combine these facts it does not surprise me that the majority of abortion providers are in urban centers and that over 30% of abortions are by black women (though they comprise only 13% of women).

Kevin: Planned Parenthood and their supporters say that their tax-funded services are essential in poor minority communities.

David: The abortion industry and their allies think the solution for the high rate of out of wedlock pregnancies and other social problems in poor minority communities is abortion and more birth control. What they fail to see, or ignore is that this attacks us in those areas of historical traumatic vulnerability. Those that have a previous history of trauma are more likely to experience more serious post abortion reactions such as debilitating anxiety/depression, substance abuse and/or to act out their grief and pain in dysfunctional relationships.  Obviously this feeds the very problems the pro abortion forces say they are rescuing us from. But the truth is, we are being exploited and targeted in a very direct way by the abortion industry.

Kevin: David in your public speaking ministry and other work you have a lot of contact with Black Pastors, church and ministry leaders. Given how important the church is in many poor minority communities, why have church leaders been largely been silent or even pro-abortion in their preaching and pastoral ministry?

David: I often have an opportunity to share about my own abortion loss and healing in my speaking ministry. I am finding more and more that this opens up the door for pastors and other church leaders, educators and laymen to share about their own shame, guilt and pain from being involved in an abortion decision. I recently spoke with a church leader who had an abortion with his wife over 20 years ago. They were never able to have children. This is a very deep wound. After sharing with him he expressed an interest in getting connected to a group for healing at a Pregnancy Resource Center. I am finding that his response is rare. Most Pastors, church and ministry leaders that I speak with are reluctant to go through a healing program and to be public in any way about this secret in their past.

Kevin: How does this impact a Pastors being able to preach and minister to his people about abortion and abortion loss?

David: As men we can all struggle with the sin of pride. We understandably want to appear together, strong and in control. It’s hard for men who are used to being looked up to as morally sound, virtuous and holy men and church leaders to let their guard down and open up this wound to a deeper healing…let alone publicly share such a shameful secret.

Kevin: How might these secrets keep our ministry leaders and other leaders in our black communities either silent about or complicit in the high abortion rate in African American communities?

David: Until you receive the grace from God to put aside that pride, that fear of losing control, fear of the powerful feelings associated with that abortion loss…you naturally “don’t want to go there.”

I believe that as long as we live with these secrets acting as if all is well then we miss out in experiencing the healing grace and forgiveness of Christ. I think that this circumvents our ability to freely and fully minister God’s word to others. The thought becomes “who am I to speak up about abortion when I also am guilty and wounded by it.” This keeps too many silent. Thus abortion continues to ravage lives in the African American community and leave in its wake multitudes of broken women and men who sit in church feeling guilty, condemned and afraid to confess what they’ve done and seek healing.

The fullness of the gospel message is compromised when our leaders fail to address this issue in their own lives.   It communicates that “my position, image and ego are more important than letting Christ take full possession of my life”…especially those areas that are most shrouded in secrecy and shame.

Kevin: I have heard you share that some ministry activity can be driven by a need to atone for the death of their child or children lost to abortion.

David: Yes, and this can be an unconscious thing. But when you don’t do the grief and healing work around that loss, this can lead to acting out and ministry burn out. Equally important, by not dealing with these vulnerable wounds, we leave ourselves open to exploitation of these emotional vulnerabilities by Satan. Secret wounds can feed secret acting out of unresolved emotional pain, grief, guilt and anger from abortion; pornography viewing, extra-marital affairs, workaholic tendencies, anger issues and health problems can all be at least in part related to an unresolved abortion loss.

Kevin: But what a blessing for men, especially our spiritual leaders when they can take that courageous step and reach out for help.

David: Jesus is telling us to put aside our pride, our privilege and our positions for a time and learn to open ourselves fully to his grace and Lordship of our lives. I can tell you from personal experience, you will be richly blessed. You will come to more fully realize the will of Christ in your life. If you are minister/pastor or other church leader, you will be freed to preach the Gospel of Life and the Gospel of the healing power of Jesus over abortion wounds. You will have the privilege of being used by God to lead others to forgiveness, healing and hope. Your ministry will be empowered and blessed in ways that you could never imagine prior to taking that step.

Kevin: What was an essential part of your own healing journey that led you to this powerful ministry of public testimony, ministry to those facing unplanned pregnancies and men suffering after abortion?

David: Brad Mattes of the Life Issues Institute had a key role in this and it reveals the power of men ministering to and with love challenging one another.

For a number of years I have frequently shared parts of my story with teens and college students. Though I would mention the abortion that my girlfriend had when I was 19 I had no idea of how deeply I was wounded by it. In 2013, I was asked to share about the abortion experience at a Pregnancy Resource Center banquet in Cincinnati, Ohio where Brad Mattes was in attendance.

A few days after the event Brad and I had a phone conversation where he asked me a question which at the time I thought was weird. He said to me, “David how have you invited Jesus to heal you from the effects of your past abortion?” My initial thoughts were…I am ok that was so long ago (22 years) and I have been a Christian for 16 years.  But I said to him “I have not specifically done anything to heal from the wounds of the abortion.”

He then asked me if he could send me a book Fatherhood Aborted and if I would be interested in going through a post-abortion bible study with a male peer counselor. I told him that I would be open to both. As I read the book and went through the bible study I began to see the effects and the deep hurt of the abortion in my life both prior to and after coming to know Jesus. I would have never made the connection.

As I went through the bible study, I began and continue to experience God’s forgiveness, grace and healing in ever increasing measure. It has impacted my relationship with my wife, children and ministry in ways far beyond anything I could have imagined. By God’s grace He has called me to be a champion for the unborn, to minister to those in the midst of crisis and broken by past abortion. (Genesis50:20)

 David lives in Orlando with his wife Terea* and their four children. He also has a son, Sukari (20), who lives in Pittsburgh and a daughter Miriam who he looks forward to meeting in heaven.

David Williams Contact Information:

Website: www.davidwilliamsspeaks.com

Email:  davidwilliamsspeaks@gmail.com 

Men and Abortion Network

 

 

 

 

 

A Grandmothers Story of Abortion Trauma and Family Healing

Friday, February 20th, 2015

 

Mother Daughter 2

My Daughter Lisa age 19 approached her grandparents in their kitchen one evening after dinner.  “I have a friend that is pregnant,” she said “and the boyfriend and his family want her to have an abortion…what do you think she should do?”

When I spoke to my mother about the incident, she said her response was to have the child.  We both agreed that she was testing the waters…and that she was likely pregnant.  As time passed it was clear that behind the scenes (with the coercion of her boyfriend and his family) there were plans being made to take the life of my daughter’s unborn baby.

Lisa told me one evening a few weeks later that she was staying with her boyfriend over night and they were going skiing the next day.  I immediately suspected that there was no ski trip planned, but an appointment at an abortion clinic.  As I sat at my desk the next morning at work, I felt a powerful urge to do something to try and save the life of my grandchild.  I prayed for the Holy Spirit’s assistance and called the first abortion business in the area.

Miraculously, Lisa was in the waiting room and the receptionist put her on the phone.  She was crying and confused and said she had to go.  I spoke to the receptionist and made it quite clear that given my daughters current state of mind and her mental health issues that if they went through with the procedure I would immediately initiate a lawsuit.  Thankfully they cancelled the procedure, and the baby was safe.

My daughter has struggled since age 15 with periods of emotional and relationship instability and impulsive behavior at times that is likely an inherited condition triggered in a powerful way by the challenges of adolescence and perhaps the use of prescription drugs and alcohol.   Given the stress of the pregnancy, her own struggles with the decision and the coercion from boyfriend and his family…she reacted to my intervention with rage.  In time she calmed down and appeared to be moving toward an acceptance of the pregnancy as she shared with her father about the pregnancy.  (I divorced her father when my son was 6 and Lisa was 1, as he was a serial adulterer and physically abusive.)

A Tragedy Unfolds

Lisa was having regular visits with her gynecologist.  Tragically, Lisa once again gave in to the pressure to abort and her own fears of motherhood and scheduled an abortion at a nearby hospital.  Fr. Dominick, our parish priest was stationed at Assumption Church in Emerson, New Jersey at the time.  I explained the situation and he immediately rushed to the hospital to try and persuade Lisa to change her mind.  He gave her a rosary, blessed by Pope John Paul, and spoke of what a gift this child would be to the family and how loved a son/daughter, grandchild and great grandchild they would be.

Lisa walked away from the priest in tears and went into the procedure room to allow the doctors and nurses to assist in the destruction of her unborn baby.  I called my sister-in-law and she shared that the procedure was complete…and my grandchild was dead.  I cannot explain the level of grief and anger that flooded my heart and soul.   I was filled with rage at the hospital and all involved with the procedure.  But I was especially so deeply hurt and angry at my daughter for participating in the death of her child…and my precious grandchild.

Reaching Out from the Pain

My mother and father have always been very close to my children and they were aware of the abortion. They were deeply grieved by the loss of their great-grandchild and for Lisa. My Mother shared that when she learned of the abortion she prayed immediately and asked her dad (my grandfather, Adam) in heaven to receive the baby since the child died on my grandfather Adam’s birth date.

Shortly after the abortion I went to talk to Fr. Dominick.  He suggested I consider a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend healing program to help me find a deeper healing of my loss as a grandparent. In the aftermath of the abortion and having to wait approximately one month to attend the retreat, I reached out to Sydna Masse at Ramah International, a ministry for those suffering after abortion.  Sydna was very kind and helpful and she connected me with Karen, a grandmother who suffered the loss of a grandchild to abortion.   This was so crucial to my continued healing because it kept me from being alone and isolated with my powerful feelings of grief and anger.

The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat was a powerful experience of healing for me and really went to the heart of my post abortion trauma and grief and helped me to find peace and closure.  I formed a number of close friendships from that experience and we remained in touch at support group meetings and social events loving and supporting, and praying for one another.

During this period I would pray during Eucharistic Adoration and beg Jesus to call my daughter to healing.  I could see how she was suffering terribly after the abortion.  She knew of my Rachel’s Vineyard experience and my friends from the retreat.  Lisa would react with cynicism and mock my “abortion friends.”  But beneath that defensive behavior, she was hurting and in need of healing.

A Miracle Unfolds

Six months after the abortion, my son asked Lisa to be the Godmother of his baby boy.  This event triggered a release of her pent up post abortion grief and pain and Lisa suffered a nervous breakdown requiring hospitalization.  She recovered from the breakdown, but remained deeply wounded.

Two years after the abortion she met a man with an abortion in his history.  He encouraged her to consider the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.  When Lisa told me she was considering making a retreat, I was overjoyed.  She expressed some reservations… “Did they already know her story? Would I be able to name my child?”  I let her know that on my retreat I told my story…not hers.  I assured her that the name I gave my grandchild was a temporary one and that she as the child’s mother would rightly provide the name God would put on her heart.

I was blessed to be able to attend the memorial service on Sunday of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat with Lisa when retreat participants honor the child with a special ceremony and Mass and entrust the children to the Lord.  When I opened the memorial service program I looked over the list of names of the babies being entrusted.   I knew right away the name Lisa had given my grandchild…Dominic Leonard.  Lisa named the baby after the priest, Fr. Dominick who had been so kind to her and who tried to stop the abortion…yet even after the abortion continued to reflect the love and mercy of Christ to my daughter.  She gave the baby the middle name of Leonard after my dad, who Lisa loves dearly.

This memorial service was deeply painful but it was the suffering of the cross with the knowledge and faith in the resurrection, and the peace, hope and joy that not all is lost.  We know now that Dominic is alive with the Lord.  We grieved and honored the child together as mother and daughter… as mother/grandmother. This was a time of great grace and healing to our relationship which had been so deeply damaged.

For the next 6 years I had the privilege of serving in various capacities on the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats offered by the Archdiocese of Newark. It was such a blessing to serve with the amazing retreat team under the guidance of the former site leader and assistant director of Respect Life, Michelle Krystofik.

A Message to Grandparents

Mother Daughter 1

This past February 2nd was the nine year anniversary of Dominic’s death.  My daughter and I were both able to acknowledge and support one another.  I am so thankful to God that we were able to heal of this family wound together.  I know that without this healing my daughter would have continued in her descent into self destructive behavior and our relationship as mother and daughter would have remained critically wounded.  While challenges remain in our lives, we continue to try our best to discern God’s will for our lives and our families.

In closing I want to share a special message to any grandmother/grandfather of a child lost to abortion.  Even if your daughter or son is not ready or willing to attend an abortion recovery program, please do this for yourself.  Not only will this be a powerful experience of God’s healing and peace, it will open the door for additional grace and healing in your family.

– Leann Domico-Vasquez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve Confessed My Abortion…Why Can’t I forgive Myself?

Friday, February 13th, 2015

 

Seeds and Soil

Have you or someone you care about gone to Sacramental Confession or confessed to their minister/pastor the sin of abortion…yet they still struggle to forgive themselves?   Some will confess the sin multiple times hoping to find freedom from the guilt and pain.

This is common and is associated with the need for many women and men to go through a more intensive grieving and recovery program/process so they can find the deeper emotional and spiritual healing they hunger for.

The grace of confession and the forgiveness of Christ and the Church are certainly effective and a great blessing.  But it is important to keep in mind that abortion can be a very deep and intimate wound.  We need to build on the grace and healing of that confession which can serve as a kind of tilling of the soil in our hearts and souls setting the stage for additional healing and recovery work that the Lord in his mercy wants for us.

Fr. Ben Cameron, CPM is the Assistant General of the Father’s of Mercy and through his preaching and pastoral ministry reaches out to those suffering after abortion loss. Fr Ben serves as the spiritual director at Relevant Radio and on a recent radio program touched on this important issue.

Fr Ben shares in this  program a beautiful message of healing and holiness and touches on this issue of forgiving oneself and the benefit of an abortion recovery program.  Fr. Ben shares how God wants to reach out with his mercy to those impacted by the Shockwaves of Abortion. You will also hear in this program a number of callers, women and men who have experienced abortion loss that address some key issues in the healing and recovery journey.

Here’s a link to the program:

http://relevantradio.streamguys.us/IL%20Archive/IL20150127.mp3

I invite you to also consider the book Sharing the Heart of Christ which offers an easy to read overview of some key issues in recovery after abortion such as repeat confessions and self forgiveness.  The book is an excellent resource with preaching and counseling information and tools to help clergy, ministers, and counselors and lay people to reach out more effectively to the millions of women and men impacted by the Shockwaves of Abortion.