Priests for Life - Healing After Abortion
Find Healing Resources:
Silent No More Awareness Campaign, A Project
of Priests For Life

Rachel's Vineyard,
A Ministry of Priests For Life

Testimonies from Women

Men and Abortion

Clergy and Abortion Healing

Research, Articles, and Presentations

Healing After Abortion Home
America Will Not Reject Abortion Until America
Sees Abortion

Prayer Campaign

Take Action

Social Networking

Rachel's Vineyard,
A Ministry of Priests For Life

Silent No More Awareness Campaign, A Project
of Priests For Life

Clergy Resources



The Monthly e-Newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

April 2004


"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing" John 15:5


Rachel’s Vineyard is on the web at:

Our national toll-free hotline is (877) HOPE-4-ME.


Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries offers weekend retreats for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion.  It is a ministry of Priests for Life

Please feel free to spread the word and pass along this newsletter to friends and colleagues. If you are receiving this newsletter because a friend forwarded it to you, details on subscribing (or unsubscribing) appear at the end.

Publisher: Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries
Editors: Catherine McHugh, Theresa Burke
Comments and questions:



1. An Easter Message
2. What About The Right To Know? The Mind and Heart of Bishop Vasa
3. The Gospel of Life is the Gospel of Mercy
4. Rachel’s Vineyard Summer Reunion - "Living Forgiven"
5. Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats move with God to Russia
6. Australian Conference - Turning Struggle and Grief into Hope & Healing
7. Rachel’s Vineyard Welcomes New Retreat Sites
8. Judges Refuse to Hear Oral Arguments
9. Training Conferences
10. Upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Schedule


"Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness" Mother Theresa


An Easter Message from Rachel’s Vineyard

We need not be shy about the work of God in our lives. For God HAS overcome. The Easter message means that Death does not have the final word. Cruelty and abuse do not have the final word. Shame and suffering don’t claim the last word. Depression, anxiety, vindictive angry spirited persecution do not have the final word. Our mistakes and shortcomings don’t dictate the end of what God desires for us. Not one of the "principalities and powers" which attempt to negate life has the final say. This is because God’s salvation is now, and is given freely not only to us as individuals, but promises to restore and rebuild our relationships, our communities and the entire world.

In this Easter Season let us live with radiant joy because we have special grace in the resurrection of Christ. And this is a Light which must not be hidden under a bushel, but which has been entrusted to us to shine forth to the whole world, a contagious and redeeming and exhilarating sense of God’s power within and among us, for the transformation of this world.



The Mind and Heart of Bishop Vasa

By Bishop Robert F. Vasa,
Diocese of Baker (Oregon, USA)

This past weekend I had the opportunity and the privilege to attend a special retreat which confirmed for me the reality and the necessity of my continued and unresolved grief and anger over the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision. The retreat is known as a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and is a part of the general abortion healing ministry of the Church, known as Project Rachel The Retreat is specifically designed to help post-abortive women begin to come to terms with the destructive nature of unresolved and sometimes even unrecognized grief in their lives. You see, the ‘abortion mentality America’ in which we live relies on the continuation of the denial of post-abortive grief.

Just as big tobacco relied on a continued denial of the habituating nature of nicotine and their knowledge of it; just as they denied the potentially harmful impact of cigarette smoke on the lungs and their knowledge of these harmful effects; so also the abortion industry (and it is an enormously lucrative ‘business’) thrives on the denial of the reality of the child and the reality of a mother’s grief. Thus the first stage of grief, denial, becomes the only stage experienced because this stage, and this stage alone, is the accepted and ‘politically correct’ response to post-abortive grief.

The women who came to the Retreat did not necessarily connect their various continued life traumas to their respective abortions but they had tried every other kind of therapy and something in their lives was still, ‘not right’. The book "Forbidden Grief" ( talks about the various manifestations of this unresolved grief. Many of the signs were clearly evident in the small group of women gathered at the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat; disrupted marital relationships, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, compulsive shopping, hopelessness, extreme shame and guilt. The ‘lie’ of the abortion industry that these problems could not possibly be connected to a past abortion keeps many women from probing and understanding the root of their various debilities. The pro-life sign: ‘Abortion hurts women’ is judged and discarded by the pro-abortion and the extreme feminist crowd as so much religious claptrap, but the women on this Retreat and those who walked a short distance with them know without a hint of doubt that it is absolutely true. Abortion hurts women and our societal denial of this truth allows an unsympathetic industry to continue to wreak its havoc on the lives of thousands of unsuspecting women every day.

The absolute silence of the abortion industry about the harm done to women is unconscionable. Worse, it is infuriating! Any legislative attempts to allow for a proper period of genuinely informed consent are shouted down as an infringement on a woman’s right to choose. What about her right to KNOW? What about her right to make a properly informed choice? Knowing what they know now, none of the women on the Retreat would make the same choice! I am extremely sad for them. I pray for them. I pray for all those women, millions of them, who have believed the lie and now live in denial, still trying to believe the lie while their lives crumble around them.

Any legislator or public person who protects or defends abortion, particularly those who claim to be Catholic, should first read "Forbidden Grief" and attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat—and then see if they could still be so glib about this right of a woman to make a totally uniformed choice of such grave consequences.

What a singular grief, a horrific grief, a forbidden grief, a hidden grief and it is suffered by millions and denied a million times over. I grieve with them and for them and sometimes that grief takes me to anger. Thank you to all who work to protect life and to protect women - not with the admixture of a conflicted interest in a tremendously lucrative industry, but selflessly and generously and with genuine compassion. Thank you. Persevere.


I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.

Mother Teresa


The Gospel of Life is the Gospel of Mercy
By Fr. Frank Pavone

I know of a woman who had 24 abortions. I often speak of her in my homilies, and point out that even for her, the doors of the Church are open. When she turns to the Lord in repentance, she will be welcomed back by Christ and the Church. In fact, she can even become a saint.

The Gospel of Life is the Gospel of Mercy, and Rachel’s Vineyard, along with the many other healing ministries of Christians, continues to be a concrete witness to that mercy. I am particularly happy to have Priests for Life partner with Rachel’s Vineyard, so that we can have more priests and pastors assist those who need healing, and reach more of those who don’t even know that healing is an option.

The Lord Jesus suffered for our sins. The open wound in his side is an open door to eternal life. As he opened his heart, literally and physically, on the cross, so we are all committed to open our hearts to the women, the men, and the families who endure the ongoing pain of abortion.

Many of you pray the "Chaplet of Divine Mercy." As you may know, St. Faustina, to whom this devotion was entrusted, said that the Lord gave it to her above all to ask forgiveness for abortion. "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." Let our devotion to his passion make us all the more committed to love those who need healing. The world needs to know that we who oppose abortion do not oppose those who have had abortions—rather, we embrace them with love.

Thank you for all you do to make that real!

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
President, National Pro-life Religious Council


"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’." Isaiah 30:21


Rachel’s Vineyard Summer Reunion "LIVING FORGIVEN" Retreat
By Edie Guiterrez

On an 80-acre retreat facility, located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Colorado Rachel’s Vineyard team is providing a celebratory weekend retreat for past retreatants, either alone or with their spouse. The entire facility is available for our exclusive use and includes a baseball field called "The Field of Dreams", a basketball court, a volleyball court, a "singing" meadow and plenty of space to hike, walk, or just loll around the well-groomed grounds. The large, covered patio with comfy sofas provides an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains. and overlooks two ponds: one for boating; one for fishing (no license needed). This will be a weekend, not for mourning and grieving, but for celebrating our God’s forgiveness and love and for living in the joy of the Lord.

This will be a wonderful time to meet Theresa Burke and her husband, Kevin, in person for they will be presenting us with new Living Scriptures and great ideas for spiritual growth and journaling. There will be a time for praying, singing and chatting. We also have four priests who have already signed up to be with us.

Since space is limited, the number of retreatants who can participate is 60. The fee is $150 per person, which includes meals and lodging. The retreat date is: Friday-Sunday, August 20-22, 2004, with arrival any time after lunch on Friday. The location is Trinity Mountain Ranch outside of Blackhawk, which is about 1 ½ hours west of Denver. There is no shuttle service from the airport to the mountains so anyone flying in will need to rent a car.

One caveat: the sleeping arrangements are not the best. There are 6 cabins with 3 bunk beds in each of them and the inside rooms have 3 bunk beds also. (Men’s bunk rooms and women’s bunkrooms). One cabin has 7 bunk beds for those who might be coming as a large group. There are plenty of bathrooms and showers, but retreatants need to bring their own sheets and towels. The facility will sleep more than 60, but we are limiting the number so that people won’t feel crowded. Since it will be in August, most of our time should be spent outside.

Rachel’s Vineyard retreat teams are asked to pass on this information to former retreatants, and have them contact Edith Gutierrez (303) 682-9185 or email for more information.

Aug 20-22, 2004 Living Forgiven Retreat for Rachel’s Vineyard Alumni Denver, Colorado

A Retreat for Rachel’s Vineyard alumni
Contact: Edie


Rachel Vineyard Retreats move with God to Russia

The arrangements for Rachel Vineyard Retreats in Russia have been finalized. Diana Szurley, of the Alaskan RVR team, will be leaving Anchorage on April 23. Her first stop will be in Magadan. She will facilitate three retreats plus a few workshops. Her next stop will be in Vladivostock. Diane will be conducting not only a retreat and training workshop, but plans are for her to speak at a university and to medical personnel. Please keep Diane in your prayers for both a safe and successful trip in bringing Rachel’s Vineyard to Russia.


" But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11-12


Turning struggle and grief into hope and healing
By Julie Kelly

The first national Australian conference on post abortion ministry went wonderfully. With the help of Father Peter Maher, the Australian team did a magnificent job. By the end of the two-day conference, everyone left filled with passion for their work and with a determination to get Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats up and running in their areas.

The conference brought together 25 people involved in this ministry from all parts of Australia. It was designed to meet the needs of those working with people hurt by an abortion experience. We addressed the issues of religious and pastoral ministers, as well as those working as professional counselors and those interested in using the resources of Rachel’s Vineyard. It was a time of interaction where all could learn from each other of the various ways the church could be a sign of healing and hope for those suffering grief and pain after an abortion. We discussed what we had learned from our various experiences, and the place of spiritual healing in the post-abortion healing process.

Fr Peter Maher quoted the following to highlight the holistic approach to healing used in counseling today that is reflected in our work:

"Spirituality may be defined as the capacity and tendency in all human beings to find and construct meaning about life and existence and move toward personal growth, responsibility and relationship with others. Spiritual experience and development is then operationalized as any experience or process in the life of an individual that creates new meaning and fosters personal growth as exhibited by the capacity to move beyond former frames of reference and risk change".

(p149) Myers, J. E., & Williard, K. (2003). Integrating spirituality into counseling and counselor training: A developmental, wellness approach, Counseling & Values, 47, 142-155.

During the conference, we highlighted the role of storytelling, ritual, psychodrama and the Sacraments as they are used in the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. Workshops allowed participants to look more closely at these issues and how we use various skills and practices from a range of professions. We were blessed that four of the twenty-five participants were priests, and a workshop on the unique role of the priest in the Rachel’s Vineyard process. The success of this first conference has those laboring in the Australian Vineyard looking forward to their next conference.


"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:16-17


"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10


Rachel’s Vineyard Welcomes New Retreat Sites:

In the love and unity of 1 Corinthians 13 we’d like to welcome a number of new ministries that will be offering the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats. Through the rapid growth of the Vineyard we are encouraged to pray as Christ did in John 17:

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me."

"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

Bernadette Goudling - Dublin Ireland

Pilar Gutierrez Vallejo—Madrid, Spain

Deb Erickson-Jackson—Westcliffe, Colorado

Iana Williams—Gainesville, Florida

Karol D. Meynard—Lafayette, Louisiana

Shelly Stone—Fargo, North Dakota

Shelly Stone—Valley City, North Dakota

Linda Trignano -- Mendham, New Jersey

Cheryl Riley & Mary Kominski—Staten Island, New York

Michelle Sawyer—Akron, Ohio

Laura Stanfill -- Ada, Oklahoma

Judy Magnussen—Ocoee, Tennessee

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one."


Judges decide against oral arguments in the case against abortion

A federal appeals court in San Antonio, Texas, decided against hearing oral arguments on the motion to reconsider the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion. The judges now will only review written arguments. Former Roe vs Wade plaintiff Norma McCorvey was hoping to get the chance to argue before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that her landmark abortion case should be reopened and reversed due to evidence found that the procedure may harm women. Though the judges gave no explanation why they decided against oral arguments, Allen Parker, director of the San Antonio-based Texas Justice Foundation, the group that represents McCorvey, felt that the cancellation might be in their favor. " They may just be urging us to go to the Supreme Court," he said.

Theresa Burke, the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, had submitted a 246 page affidavit for this case - and another lengthy expert testimony was compiled by David Reardon from the Elliot Institute. Both documents focused on the detrimental impact of abortion on women’s psychological and emotional health. The good news is that at least the judges are reading about what many women have suffered.

The Texas Justice Foundation and the National Foundation for Life are pleased with the initial accomplishments of Operation Outcry. To date, they have received hundreds of affidavits but invite many more post-abortive women to come forward to tell the courts how their lives have been shattered by abortion. Regardless of where or when the abortion occurred, whether three weeks ago or thirty years ago, each woman’s story is needed. Operation Outcry needs not only the accounts of those who were physically injured but especially the accounts of those who have experienced emotional trauma, pain, and suffering.

If you are post-abortive and would like to join this effort, please fill out the form (click here for Adobe Acrobat PDF file)

The completed, notarized affidavit forms should be mailed to the Texas Justice Foundation, 8122 Datapoint, Suite 812, San Antonio, TX 78229. You may make unlimited copies of the blank affidavit form to provide to anyone you know who has had an abortion. The Texas Justice Foundation is available to answer any questions. Women on staff, some of whom are post-abortive themselves, will help women fill out the forms. You can call toll-free at 1-877-247-7582. Additional information is available at See also


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33


Upcoming Training Opportunities- Speaking Engagements for Rachel’s Vineyard

Apr 14-17, 2004 American Association of Suicidology Annual Conference
Miami, FL
Theresa will be presenting on the link between abortion and suicide

Apr 17, 2004 Friends for Life Luncheon
Syracuse, NY
Contact: Joan Brown 315-488-4146

May 12-14, 2004 2 Day Conference Clinical Training (Theresa & Kevin)
10.5 hours continuing education credits approved (6.5 hours - day 1 and 4 hours day 2)
Sponsors: The Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Catholic Charities of Idaho
Contact: Kathleen Curtis
Catholic Charities of Idaho
Contact: Stephanie
Vineyard Christian Fellowship

Jun 21-25, 2004 International Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Training Conference
Greensboro, North Carolina
Contact: Dr. Martha Shuping, MD

August 10, 2004 Conference for Spiritual Directors and Pastoral Counselors
Dominican Retreat House, Elkins Park

Aug 12-13, 2004 Annual Summer Conference for Seminarian Life Link
Contact: Stephen Imbarrato
Seminarian Life Link
PO Box 236695
Cocoa, FL 32923

August 14 - 15 Weekend Conference for Spiritual Directors and Pastoral Counselors (Part 11)
Dominican Retreat House, Elkins Park


Upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Schedule: (April - May)

April 2-4, 2004 -- Boone, North Carolina
Note: Spanish retreat
Contact: Yaralitza Erives 336 495 0279

April 2-4, 2004 -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Contact: Susan Lepak 405 721 5651 ext 107

April 16-18, 2004 -- Fairfield County, Connecticut
Contact: Clarissa Cincotta 203 218 0291

April 16-18, 2004 -- Portland, Maine
Contact: Jeanne Bull 207 879 1130 ext 770 or 771 or toll-free 800 CARE 002

April 16-18, 2004 -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contact: Ann Depner 412 456 6955

April 16-18, 2004 -- Tampa, Florida
Contact: Emma Boe 813 631 4370 or 813 673 4670

April 16-18, 2004 -- Eugene, Oregon
Contact: Lori Eckstine 800 249 8074 or 541 521 5186

April 16-18, 2004 -- Council Bluffs, Iowa
Contact: Heather

April 16-18, 2004 -- Vineland, New Jersey
Contact: Mary Anne Serra 866 4RA CHEL

April 16-18, 2004 -- Dallas, Texas
Note: in Spanish
Contact: Barbara Hennes 214 366 4400

April 23-25, 2004 -- Cork, Ireland
Contact: Bernadette 087 859 2877
Contact: Dr. Rita O’Connor 061 468 570

April 23-25, 2004 -- Gaylord, Michigan
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Beth Bauer 800 727 5147 ext 3533 or 989 705 3517

April 23-25, 2004 -- Corpus Christi, Texas
Contact: Fr. Tom Goodwin 361 882 7912

April 30-May 2, 2004 -- Romeoville, Illinois
Local host: Joliet Diocesan Life Office
Contact: Kay Corcoran 815 838 7171

April 30-May 2, 2004 -- Monroe, Connecticut
Local host: Archdiocese of Hartford Project Rachel
Contact: Mary Hayden 203 882 1326

April 30-May 2, 2004 -- Asheville, North Carolina
Local host: St. Banabas Respect Life Committee
Contact: Shelley Glanton 828 684 4330
Contact: Paula Bolick 828 684 4330

April 30-May 2, 2004 -- Kelowna, British Columbia
Contact: Janet Kormish 250 762 2273 or 877 683 CARE

April 30-May 2, 2004 -- Stanwood, Washington
Contact: Valerie Jacobs 800 822 HOPE

May 7-9, 2004 -- Youngstown, Ohio
Contact: Brenda Dama 330 519 8838
Contact: Br. Vit Fiala 330 799 1888

May 7-9, 2004 -- Rapid City, South Dakota
Contact: Carol Kling 605 374 5639

May 7-9, 2004 -- New Orleans, Louisiana
Retreat location: St. Augustine’s Retreat House, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Contact: Melanie Baglow 504 889 2431

May 14-16, 2004 -- Janesville, Wisconsin
Local host: Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Cheryl Ryan 608 754 0309

May 14-16, 2004 -- Richmond, Virginia
Contact: Kay Marie Geiger 804 330 3137

May 14-16, 2004 -- Hays, Kansas
Contact: Donetta Robben 785 623 7531

May 14-16, 2004 - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Contact: Pat Ryan or Cindy Samson 616 243 0491 ext 520

May 21-23, 2004 -- Mt. Arlington, New Jersey
Contact: Marie Ryan 973 777 8818 ext. 264, fax -973 473 3353

May 21-23, 2004 -- Fort Worth, Texas
Contact: Betsy Kopor 817 923 4757

May 21-23, 2004 -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Contact: Mary Alice 877 HOPE 4 ME

May 21-23, 2004 -- Denver, Colorado
Contact: Edith Gutierrez 303 682 9185

May 21-23, 2004 -- Tipton, Indiana
Local host: Family Life Ministries, Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana
Contact: Jennie 765 477 7706
Contact: Carolyn 219 374 5193

May 21-23, 2004 -- Independence, Missouri
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Sherrie Stanley 816 690 8549
Contact: Rachel’s Vineyard Kansas City

May 21-23, 2004 -- Portland, Maine
Contact: Jeanne Bull 207 879 1130 ext 770 or 771 or toll-free 800 CARE 002

May 28-30, 2004 -- Sydney, Australia
Contact: Julie Kelly 02 9440 7980
Contact: Project Rachel Australia


For he is the living God And he endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed; His dominion will never end.  He rescues and he saves; He performs signs and wonders In the heavens and on earth Daniel 6:26-27


To subscribe to this newsletter: Send an e-mail to

Type SUBSCRIBE VINE & BRANCHES in the subject line or body of your e-mail.


Rachel’s Vineyard ® All rights reserved. © 2004

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •