Should I Tell My Parents About My Past Abortions?

March 1st, 2015


Vineyard Home

In 2004, at the end of April I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat for healing after abortion.  I had scheduled a visit with my parents for Mother’s Day weekend just two weeks later.  What was I thinking?  My mother knows me so well that I knew I couldn’t hide from her that something overwhelming had occurred in my life.  I was so raw from the retreat that I really didn’t want to tell my parents, but I knew that I couldn’t hide it from my mother.  So, what to do?

I had never told my parents about my three abortions.  Now it looked like I was going to have to break 36 years of silence.  I was afraid and nervous.  Would they judge me?  Would they criticize me for the choices I had made? Would they be angry?  Would they reject me?

I prayed hard for days.  I asked for advice from others who were walking this healing journey.  It was suggested that I make sure my intentions were honorable.  I had to ask myself for whose benefit was I breaking my silence – me or them?  After all of this, I decided to share my story with them.

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9, 2004, we sat down at the dining room table in my parent’s home.  I told them that I needed to tell them something hard.  Through my tears I managed to share my story with them.  I told them that they had four grandchildren in heaven – three aborted and one miscarried.  Both of them cried along with me.  My father said that he was so very sorry that I wasn’t able to trust them enough at the time of my crisis pregnancies to tell them and ask for their help.  My mother sobbed quietly and asked me what their names are.

When I could breathe again, I realized that they hadn’t judged me, they weren’t criticizing me, they weren’t angry.  They did not reject me.  They loved me even more.  And they welcomed their four missing grandchildren into our family.

My mother needlepointed a beautiful pillow with four roses on it – one for each of her grandbabies.  She gave me the pillow.  She told me that she talks to all four of them on a regular basis.  She asks them to pray for their family.

Since 2004 both of my parents have supported my involvement with the Rachel’s Vineyard ministry in Oregon.  They have prayed for every retreat that we have had here in Oregon.  They have contributed financially to our ministry.  They have told me that it is one way they can honor their grandchildren.  Their support has meant the world to me.

If they were a bit younger, I think my mother would have gone on a retreat with me.  But when I first started my healing journey she was a young 80.  Now at 91 and Dad at 93, they continue to love and support the work I do with Rachel’s Vineyard.  I am so blessed to have such loving parents and loving grandparents for all of my children.

As a member of the Oregon Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team I have had the privilege and joy of witnessing grandparents attend retreats.  Some have come with their daughter and some have come for their own healing at the loss of a grandchild.  All of these grandparents found a measure of healing and grace in their lives.  They were able to grieve the loss of their grandchildren, and were able to begin the process of forgiving their children for the abortion and themselves for not having supported the unplanned pregnancy.  It has brought me great joy to share the pain, heartache, healing and joy of these grandparents.  I always carry my parents in my heart during the retreat process, which brings me immense peace.  I share some of their stories with my own parents in the hopes that they will also find healing.

If you are a grandparent who has lost a grandchild to abortion, I urge you to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat to find the love, support and healing that will bless your life.  If your son or daughter has experienced abortion loss, please gently and lovingly share information about abortion healing programs and offer to participate in the retreat or attend the special services at the close of the retreat weekend with them.  Abortion recovery programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can help heal families and repair years of damage.

Susan Swander, Oregon





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

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 (

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?

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:



Men and Abortion Network






A Grandmothers Story of Abortion Trauma and Family Healing

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?

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:

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.


Can You Preach About Abortion With Truth…and Mercy?

January 27th, 2015

Peter Preaching

When you journey with women and men through an abortion healing program like Rachel’s Vineyard, at some point in the weekend you are likely to hear expressed some anger and regret at the silence about abortion from their church leadership.

Leslie shares:

If I had heard a message from my priest talking about how abortion impacts women, men, relationships and families…I may have been able to get help much earlier in my life…I may have been able to save my marriage and my children from living for years with this wound that was festering in my heart and soul.  That pain led me to do things and try to cope in ways that hurt not only myself, but those I loved the most. 

To be fair, our church leaders struggle with the same thing many of us do in our families, workplaces and churches:

-                 How do we address this sensitive topic in a way that does not hurt or alienate those that have been part of abortion decisions – especially those that have experienced the procedure and lost a child to abortion…yet does not compromise the moral truth that abortion is a grave sin against God and the dignity of the human person?

Is this even possible?

In fact Catholic and Protestant church leaders who have served in post abortion ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard, often have found the perfect balance of truth, justice and mercy in their preaching.  This balance is rooted in their experience of accompanying those wounded by abortion on their journey to healing.

Fr. Pat Scanlan P.P. has been serving in Parish ministry since his ordination in1977 for the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland and has been a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat team in Cork since 2003.

The following interview with Fr. Pat is from the book Sharing the Heart of Christ:

Fr. Pat, how long have you been involved in post abortion ministry?

Since my ordination to the priesthood in June 1977, I have met with many women and some men who have been wounded by abortion. Almost invariably they were crying out for forgiveness and healing.  In my experience the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation marks a decisive step in their journey towards recovery. Yet I have always felt that they needed something more. What that something was, I was not so sure.   Yes the sin had been forgiven, but they had a deep need for healing and restoration.

 How did you get involved with Rachel’s Vineyard?

 In the summer of 2003, I had a phone call from a good friend Bernadette Goulding who shared with me her excitement at having discovered a movement called Rachel’s Vineyard. Everything she said convinced me that this was the answer I had longed for over many years.  I agreed immediately to become involved. 

The first Rachel’s Vineyard weekend in Ireland was held in Cork in October 2003. We were very fortunate in that from the outset we had the blessing and support of my bishop… I have participated in about fifteen weekends since that time.

Can you share from your experience serving as a member of the Retreat Team?

Being involved in these weekends certainly ranks among the most rewarding experiences of my priesthood.  The essential role of the priest on a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is to be present… to them as they journey through their pain and grief towards hope and healing the priest is making present the gentle compassionate Christ who cares deeply for his wounded sisters and brothers.

It is not an exaggeration to say that on each weekend we experience miracles of grace. The participants usually arrive bowed down by too many years of grief and self –loathing. Slowly, gradually as they enter into the process of the weekend they get in touch with, express, release and reconcile deep painful post abortive emotions.

 The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is made available to those who want it on Saturday night, is a beautiful experience for both penitent and priest. Both begin to realize the truth of the statement “The church is a hospital for sinners and not a hotel for saints.”   As they leave to return home on Sunday afternoon, many of them will have experienced the Mercy of the Lord at a very deep level. A grace that is truly amazing has touched wounded hearts and made of them beloved disciples who will in turn become instruments of his compassion to others. Some, because of their new found freedom, will in due course speak out and become part of a grass roots movement that will one day replace the present Culture of Death with a Culture of Life. I feel I am one of the most privileged of priests to have had this experience so many times and I encourage all priests, deacons, and seminarians to “come and see” at least once.

 How has your work in post abortion healing impacted your preaching?

Prior to my involvement in Rachel’s Vineyard I often felt a bit scared at the prospect of preaching the Gospel of Life. I was conscious that in any congregation there may be one or more who had experienced abortion, and I was never sure how to effectively proclaim the truth while at the same time witnessing to compassion. The truth without compassion is a lethal weapon particularly for wounded souls. Compassion without the truth is a cruel deception. Now I actually enjoy preaching the Gospel of Life. I know from my experience of Rachel’s Vineyard that the Gospel is truly Good News for these women and men, who have fallen victim to one of the great lies of our time. I usually tell my congregation that what I want to share is what I have learned from women and men, who have had abortions and how the Good Shepherd is waiting to embrace, heal and forgive them. I share in a gentle compassionate way   that abortion wounds the lives of mothers and fathers. I know that if there are women present who have had abortion they will identify, and realize that the church wants to help them. I have had people come to me afterwards to find out more about Rachel’s Vineyard.  For the remainder of the congregation, when I then proceed to present the church’s teaching on the right to life of the unborn it is but an obvious and positive conclusion to be embraced, once they have heard a little about post abortion syndrome. 

The Harvest is Plentiful!

You can see in Fr. Pat’s feedback the awesome possibilities for ministry and evangelization if we can expand the outreach in our churches to those suffering this loss.   Sharing the Heart of Christ is a great resource for Priests, Deacons, Counselors and Laity in ministry to those suffering after abortion.  The book provides a brief overview of some key issues in ministry to those with abortion loss, but also pastoral concerns and sample homilies to assist in preaching about this topic with truth, sensitivity and mercy.

Here’s what Bishop Robert Vasa had to say about the book:

Sharing the Heart of Christ provides an assurance of hope for genuine healing and peace for those afflicted with many manifestations of unresolved post-abortive guilt, grief and shame. This work helps us further understand the nature of the abortion trauma, the reason for its persistence and the possibility of healing. It is a book filled with hope. Here we learn how the healing power of God’s grace coupled with sound psychiatric principles can and does, in the midst of a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, produce an abundant harvest of healing and peace. I had the privilege of participating in a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat several years ago. The power of the experience continues to have an impact upon me. May God bless and reward your good work. - Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa, CaliforniaShare this blog with your minister, priest or pastor today…better yet get them a copy of Sharing the Heart of Christ.



The Fruit of Abortion Healing: Blessing the Churches with Fervent Disciples

January 20th, 2015

Mary at Tomb

The Fruit of Abortion Healing – Blessing the Churches with Fervent Disciples

When a woman or man participates in the death of their unborn child, part of the damage from the Shockwaves after the procedure can be seen in a deep wounding of their relationship with God and the church.  Deborah grew up in a loving and faith filled family.  She loved God and had always had a personal relationship with him, but now that relationship seemed torn… Deborah shares:

 [After the abortion]… “I found it difficult to go to church, and slowly I started not going,” she said. “I felt like an outcast. I just didn’t feel I deserved God’s love at that point, so it was really hard going to church.” (From the Colorado Catholic Herald)

A key component of the Shockwaves Initiative is spreading the Good News that these wounds can be healed and the Church is waiting with open arms to welcome them home.

Emma Boe is the Project Rachel Director and Rachel’s Vineyard Coordinator of the Diocese of St Petersburg Florida.  Emma shares:

One of the wonderful fruits of abortion healing that I have seen is the large number of our alumni who respond to a call to serve in their churches as catechists, pro life volunteers, lectors, homeless shelters etc.  

When a spiritual and emotional healing program safely opens the abortion wound to the light of Christ, there are miraculous encounters with the Lord.  One of the fruits of this healing is the number of alumni that become involved in Church ministry and service.

There is a vast mission field of mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends family and abortion providers who have participated in, or have been deeply affected by the death of an unborn child.  All would greatly benefit from the forgiveness and healing of Christ and his church found in post abortion healing programs like Rachel’s VineyardFrom this act of mercy, forgiveness and healing will emerge men and women on fire with the Gospel and ready to serve God’s people according to their gifts and calling.

Visit the Shockwaves website and learn more about how you can partner with us in sharing the truth about abortion loss and the Good News of healing.

Silences in the Churches About the “Shockwaves of Abortion”: Deadly for the Unborn…and their Parents

January 6th, 2015

Silence in the Churches

In January 2015 Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion will be launched with a press conference and a historical event at the steps of the US Supreme Court after the March for Life with a visible and dramatic representation of the vision for this year long initiative.

The Shockwave Initiative will reveal how abortion impacts not only the child, the Mom, and the Dad, but entire families, including grandparents and siblings. Moreover, the wound extends to friends who were involved in the abortion decision/procedure, to the abortionists and their staff, to pro-life people who tried to stop the abortion but couldn’t, and to entire communities.  The Shockwaves initiative presents a vision and resources for communicating this in a new way to our churches, families and nation devastated by abortion loss.  (Be sure to visit our Shockwaves Website for an in depth introduction to the initiative.)

Because January is also when many Churches observe Sanctity of Life Sunday  the Shockwaves Initiative will focus in a special way this month on Churches and pastors.

Silence from the Churches and silence from our Pulpits about abortion can at times wrongly  communicate the following:

-                  This is not an area of concern of the Church and it’s best to just move on from that abortion experience, leave it in the past and never talk about it.

-                  Abortion healing is not an important part of Church ministry…like feeding the hungry.  The Church doesn’t care or want to get involved.

-                  The only message of the Church (if they actually ever hear a pro life message) is perceived as one of condemnation of abortion (and hence in their mind a condemnation of all who have abortions.)

Truth is,  the silence of the Churches enables the denial, the isolation and suffering of those with abortion loss.  This silence and lack of awareness and understanding allows the after-abortion symptoms to continue to extend out from the wounded heart of the mother and father.  This has a powerful impact on personal, emotional, and physical health, as well as marriage and family life…and the mission of the Church.  Half of all abortions are repeat procedures, related to unresolved trauma from first abortions.  Education within a message of hope and healing can be life saving for thousands of unborn children and their parents.

Be Not Afraid! Break the Silence

The Church is greatly diminished in its mission by this silence…and greatly empowered in its mission when proclaiming the Gospel of repentance, healing and restoration in Christ. 

Abortion has gravely wounded the Body of Christ.   When we expand our understanding of those impacted by this loss…a large part of our church communities have been directly impacted by abortion

  • All those impacted would benefit from hearing the truth proclaimed with love and compassion.
  • It is important that people learn of the common symptoms and issues people struggle with after this loss and the personal, marriage and family impact.
  • God’s people desperately need to hear the good news of abortion healing in the Lord. A testimony at an appropriate time in your church service is a personal and powerful way to reveal the suffering after abortion and the effective healing programs that are available.
  • Shockwaves will feature an excellent internet based healing resource,, that generates trusted abortion healing programs in one’s area by entering a zip code.

[The month of January is a perfect time to share a message of hope and healing. Go to the Shockwaves website where you will find Sample Sermons, Bulletin Inserts and a downloadable brochure.]

Led Zeppelin – Sexual Revolution and Abortion

October 28th, 2014

Led Zeppelin IV

The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know.

- The Battle of Evermore from Led Zeppelin IV

This week marks the second wave of Led Zeppelin releases including remastered and expanded versions of the British rock legends’ fourth and fifth studio albums, 1971′s Led Zeppelin IV and 1973′s Houses of the Holy. Led Zeppelin’s unnamed fourth album, often referred to as “Zoso,” went on to sell 23 million copies in the U.S., making it the third most successful album ever.  Led Zeppelin IV features some of the perennial staples of classic rock radio including the epic “Stairway to Heaven.”

Like many young men journeying through the jungles of adolescence in the 1970’s, Zeppelin became the soundtrack for my own coming of age. Composer Jimmy Page layered walls of guitar orchestration married to the musical alchemy produced by his hand-picked fellow band members; the mystical lyrics and wailing unrestrained libido of lead Singer Robert Plant; accomplished musician and composer John Paul Jones; and the one who laid down the Thunder of the Gods, the late drummer John Bonham.

The music of Led Zeppelin reveals some key and sometimes paradoxical messages of their music but also reflected in the lives of many of their generation. On the second Led Zeppelin album you find the anthem of male sexual conquest “Whole Lotta Love.”  You also find at the close of side two, a tender love song Plant penned about his wife at that time, “Thank You.”  On their fourth album you hear the sexual braggadocio of the blues/rock masterpiece “Black Dog” followed by the poignant, nostalgic and spiritual tones of Stairway to Heaven…ear numbing anthems of sexual revolution…and the longing for the innocence and simplicity of the hippie ideal.  This paradox was also reflected in their lives as country gentleman and family men when home and a horde of sexual barbarians when travelling with the band (though many of these accounts while based on some truth are now thought to be highly exaggerated.)

The power and mystique of Led Zeppelin is not only based on their talent as composers and musicians but also came from being plugged into the zeitgeist of their times. This was an age of a naïve trust that the advancement of personal liberation and exploration was the greatest ideal of an evolving mankind.  At the same time the youth of this period chased a longing for deeper emotional intimacy and spiritual communion in the shark infested waters of sexual liberation, drugs and social revolution.

The sexual, social and musical revolutions of the 1960’s and 70’s produced some amazing music. What Led Zeppelin and the other musical and social architects and promoters of sexual revolution failed to understand, is the connection between unrestrained sexual liberation and social chaos, disease and death.  But look more closely at the music and lyrics of Zeppelin (some which borrowed themes and imagery from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) and you will find that there were deeper and darker battles being waged between lust and love, light and darkness, heaven and hell:

The Sky is filled with good and bad mortals never know…The dark Lord rides in force tonight, and time will tell us all. Oh, throw down your plow and hoe, Rest not to lock your homes. Side by side we wait the might of the darkest of them all.– Battle of Evermore

St Paul wrote something similar a few thousand years earlier:

  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians, 6-12)

Led Zeppelin was a powerful musical focal point for the emerging social and spiritual forces being unleashed during this time period. They not only gave a voice to those forces, but along with other musical groups of that period they helped till the spiritual and social soil, fanning the flames of the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960’s and beyond.

Zeppelin reigned at a time when the “powers of this dark world” St Paul speaks of seduced and manipulated political, religious and legal leaders to embrace the end-game of the sexual revolution… legalization of abortion in 1973.  Since that time over 55 million of our fellow citizens have been lost to abortion…and countless men and women have been deeply damaged by the participation in their death.  

The power and beauty of the music of Led Zeppelin remains and transcends the sometimes darker influences on some of the band members and their lifestyles, especially when touring.  Lead Singer Robert Plant is known for his preening and sexual posturing when performing with Zeppelin, but he also wrote some of their more compelling lyrics.  The continued allure of Zeppelin is that the beauty, power and message of their music at times reached out to awaken the listener to consider that there was something more beyond the silly sexual posturing of Plant and the whole sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle.

The lyrics of the classic Stairway to Heaven, remind us that as we continue to rip apart the fabric of western civilization…we better take some time to assess the costs of unrestrained individualism and sexual liberation:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run There’s still time to change the road you’re on.Stairway to Heaven

Fifty Five million dead…millions more wounded.

Let’s hope and pray…there’s still time to change the road we’re on.




Synod on the Family: Abortion Is a Stealth Missile Attacking Marriage and Family

October 6th, 2014

Holy Family

The much anticipated Extraordinary Synod on the Family opened Sunday at the Vatican.  In the opening mass for the Synod Pope Francis shared this with the assembled Bishops:

Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.

The Popes comments reflect the urgency of the situation and the challenges facing the family. We do not have the luxury of a synod that merely debates “beautiful and clever ideas” that are disconnected from the real world experience of families in our contemporary society.

The issues central to Churches in the developing nations (where the majority of Catholics reside) will often differ from those in the Western world, where we find a preoccupation with possible changes on ministry to Divorced Catholics.   There is a danger that in our focus on this contentious issue…we are missing the very large and very influential elephant in the family room.

Understanding the Impact of Abortion on Marriage and Family Life

With the continued pressure from Western nations to expand the access to abortion in African, Asia and Latin America, it is essential for the Synod to be aware of the  relationship between the symptoms of complicated grief after abortion and marriage and family life, especially here in the United States.   A failure to understand and learn more about this intimate connection between abortion and the challenges facing couples and families…would be a tragic missed opportunity for the Church and its leaders.

Since 1973 the United States has experienced an unprecedented historical event…a self-inflicted population reduction of over 55 million of its people through the availability of widespread legal abortion. What we have learned during this time is that abortion not only takes the life of an innocent child, it also has a powerfully toxic effect on relationships, marriage and family life.

Sharing the Heart of Christ

This should be no surprise. Sharing the Heart of Christ is an excellent resource for clergy, counselors and laity in ministry with those suffering after abortion. In this book we learn that abortion is very much a “relational wound”:

 These symptoms of post-abortion loss do not occur in isolation and can significantly impact marriage and family life. Abortion creates a relational and spiritual wound. A healthy marital relationship is marked by a deep bonding between husband and wife with a foundational trust that leads to vibrant and satisfying emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.   Abortion is a traumatic death experience that is closely associated to relational/sexual intimacy, creating a profound fracture of trust that strikes at the heart of a relationship.  Because of the nature of this wound, secrets, [trust and anger issues] and extra marital affairs are not uncommon for persons with abortion in their history. – Sharing the Heart of Christ: Chapter Two Cultivating the Seeds of Trust

Later in that same Chapter you will find this following excerpt from an article originally published in the Fairfield County Catholic.  As you read this brief account, consider how essential this information is to the Synod on the Family, where in the United States alone, there have been over 55 million abortion procedures:

Fairfield County Catholic (FCC):Why don’t you begin by explaining the circumstances that drove you to an abortion?

Mary: Joe and I were both in college, and had been dating a couple of years. The first time we had intercourse, I got pregnant. I came from a large family and my parents, who were devout Catholics, made a lot of sacrifices for my education. I was too ashamed to tell them I was pregnant. There was no one to reach out to.

FCC:Couldn’t you reach out to your boyfriend?

Mary: I told Joe I was pregnant, and that I would have to get an abortion. I was waiting desperately for him to say something, to tell me we’d manage somehow. It never happened.

Joe: I knew it was wrong, but I was silent. I never stood up for the baby. I prejudged her, and decided that her mind was made up. I was angry with her for choosing an abortion. 

FCC:Most couples break up after an abortion because the guilt and pain are so great. Yet you stayed together and got married. You were clearly very much in love. How did the aftermath of the abortion affect your marriage?

Mary: We still loved each other, and we were committed to our marriage. My feeling of anger at Joe was pushed down for so many years that I didn’t even recognize it. But it was there all the time. I took my anger out on him without ever recognizing where it came from. 

Joe: There was a lack of trust in our relationship. I blamed her for the loss of the baby. I did things that purposely hurt her. I drank a lot, I gambled, I did a lot of things to escape into a private world where I wouldn’t feel pain. 

FCC:You are both practicing Catholics, raising your children in the faith. Didn’t you talk to a priest about what happened?

Mary: After years of this, it became apparent that it was something I had to deal with. I had confessed my abortion to three priests over the years. After the fourth priest, I began to accept that God could forgive me. 

Joe: There were years and years of anger and heartache and being distant from God… I think men are so proud, they don’t see what they’ve buried. It was all kept inside and it was destroying me. I deliberately did things to keep my own self-esteem down. I considered suicide. At one point, I remember walking downstairs with a gun and a suitcase; Mary stopped me. 

FCC:What happened when you went into the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat?

Mary: It felt confidential, safe, welcome. There was an overwhelming sense of peace knowing that so many people were praying for us. Everybody there, although each story was different, the pain was there. With them, we were able to let our guard down. 

Joe: I didn’t want to go to Rachel’s Vineyard to begin with. I walked in there on a Friday evening thinking, “I’m going to re-live all this stuff I’ve been avoiding for so long.” I think men are reluctant to go to these things openly and be part of it. 

FCC: Why was this retreat so effective, when you had both already been to Confession and received absolution years ago?

Mary: My big breakthrough came when I was able to express my anger at Joe. He had never realized that the abortion had any connection to our behavior. We were able to forgive each other, and to have our baby forgive us. 

Joe: I sat there and literally cried during some of the sessions. I was able to express my anger of myself at my total lack of courage…I feel reborn. I’ve been accepted by God, by my wife, and, most of all, by myself…

FCC: Where do you go from here?

…Joe: I’d like us to be as close as we can possibly get. I’d like to re-kindle a courtship, to walk hand-in-hand, spend more time together – and more time together in prayer.

The Family Impact

In many of the testimonies of women and men after abortion loss, you will find similar themes; mistrust, displaced anger, resentment, difficulty with intimacy and sexual dysfunction.  When a mother or father has an abortion in their past, and it is drawing upon so much negative emotional energy…does this impact parenting and family life?

It would be impossible that it would not have a significant impact.  All of us know how challenging it is to maintain a healthy marriage and family life in today’s culture.  It is all the more daunting when a mother and/or father are deeply compromised in their capacity for healthy communication, trust and intimacy because of an abortion loss.  Keep in mind that nearly half of all abortions are repeat procedures. Also consider that many grandparents, siblings and extended family may have been involved in some way in the abortion decision/procedure of their family member and depending on their role in the child’s death can also suffer emotionally and spiritually.

As I read these words of the Pope from October 4th,  I thought of the millions of couples with an abortion in their history:

 May the wind of Pentecost blow on the Synodal works, on the Church, on the whole of humanity. May it loose the knots that impede persons from encountering one another, may it heal bleeding wounds, and rekindle hope. May it grant that creative charity that make us love as Jesus loved. Then our proclamation will rediscover the vivacity and dynamism of the first missionaries of the Gospel. – Pope Francis’ Discourse Saturday October 4th at the Vigil of Prayer for the Synod on the Family

Let all Catholics and Christians of every denomination join our Holy Father in this prayer. May the Holy Spirit inspires the leaders of the international Catholic Church, so that they may be convicted of the importance of healing the “bleeding wound” of abortion and so protect and strengthen our families, both in the West and in the developing world.