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The Monthly e-Newsletter of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries

August 2004

Rachel's Vineyard is on the web at:

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

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Rachel's Vineyard Ministries is a resource for clinical training, education and healing models. Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion are held in over 153 locations throughout the world. Rachel’s Vineyard welcomes, women, men, couples, grandparents and abortion providers. Our retreats are held in both Catholic and Interdenominational settings. It is a ministry of Priests for Life

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Help us spread the Good News! 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:

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The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

Kahlil Gibran

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An urgent Commitment
Something about Mary
Post Abortion Depression Research and Care Act
Sharing our Joys and Tears
Updates from Silent No More
Heather Rose
Upcoming Training Conferences
Upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Schedule (August-Sept)

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The elections of November 2, 2004 are pivotal for those of us working in post abortion healing. It is imperative that on that day we elect more public officials who understand the damage that abortion causes to the individual, to relationships and family life. We must elect those who are willing to do something to restore full protection to the lives of unborn children. The ability of Congress and the states, to make progress in this area is at stake in this election. People on both sides of the abortion controversy acknowledge that the makeup of the Supreme Court, and the fate of Roe vs. Wade, are key consequences of how we will vote this year. Those of us involved in post abortion healing and defending the unborn have carried out our work steadily whether the political climate was favorable or unfavorable, and that will always be the case. However, we should not fall into the error of putting our responsibilities on somebody else's shoulders, or of expecting government to do our work. Politics is not our salvation, God is. Yet while we don't want government to do our work, we demand that government do its own work, and that means, first of all, passing laws that protect the lives of all citizens, including the unborn and support legislation and initiatives to educate the public about post abortion trauma and support healing resources. Moreover, while government does its work, we must insure that it does not stand in the way of ours. And while God, rather than politics, is our salvation, it is also true that our response to Him includes carrying out our political responsibilities.

Elections are not contests between two or more candidates; they are contests between two or more teams. Because of the supreme urgency of this upcoming election, and because of how close so many races will be all of us involved in post abortion healing have a serious moral obligation to work, in each race, for the victory of the candidate who will do more than his or her opponent to increase protection for unborn children and support legislation that offers assistance to those wounded by their involvement in an abortion.

We strongly encourage you to make sure that persons in your family, Church, ministry and community are registered to vote and informed on the candidate's positions on the right to life and post abortion issues and to establish mechanisms to facilitate maximum turnout at the voting booths.

As has been said before, all our actions must be built upon a foundation of prayer. Starting on August 31, 2004, Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries, and Rachel’s Vineyard, are calling upon all Christians to offer a special novena of nine weeks of intense prayer for our nation as we prepare to elect our national and local leaders:
August 31 is exactly nine weeks before November 2, which is Election Day.

Gospel of Life Ministries, a pro-life outreach to the Protestant community, will soon launch a similar campaign.

For further information and Election Resources:

Fr. Frank Pavone- Pastoral Director Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, Priests for Life

Theresa & Kevin Burke- Founding Directors- Rachel's Vineyard Ministries

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Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him.

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)

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By Fr. Neal Joseph Wilkinson, SJ.

There's a story of Jesus' life that didn't quite make it into the Bible. We know the story of the time. He came upon the crowd about to stone the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. He said, "Let the one without sin cast the first stone." Everyone put down their rocks, and just then, He sees one rock go whizzing by. He immediately calls out, "Mama, stop it!"

Of course, such a story is ridiculous. Mary, the sinless Mother of Jesus understood that she was sinless only by the grace of God. Just as we are redeemed and saved from our sin only by the grace of God, Mary was preserved from sin only by grace. Her first thought on encountering any sin or any sinner would be the familiar refrain, "there but for the grace of God go I!"

The movie, the Passion of the Christ portrays a deep friendship between Mary and the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. We see that Mary has no fear of having contact with a sinner. Mary and the woman are shown loving and supporting each other as sisters in the moment of tragedy. Of course, in our tradition we call Mary our Mother, but in the order of grace, she is a beloved daughter of God and so truly our sister-completely dependent on God's grace.

Discussing this woman who sinned and repented, I think of my friends, my heroes, who have had abortions and in their repentance have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ just as truly as the woman of 2000 years ago. And like that woman, they know they have a friend and a sister in Mary. In particular there is appeal in the figures of Mary as pregnant, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Pietá, Mary as the mother of a child who has died.

The Gospels give us more insight into the figure of Mary. In the face of the frightening news that she was to be the mother of a child without a human father, she reaches out in generosity to her middle-aged cousin Elizabeth who was carrying her first child. This is kindness, love and generosity in the face of fears.

When Elizabeth greets her, we see still another aspect of Mary. She is more than a kind and good and loving woman; she is a prophet! When we hear her say that her whole being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, she goes on to say that God "Has shown the strength of His arm, and He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty."

There is power in this woman's words! Whenever the Church listens to Mary the prophet, she dedicates herself to the care of the poor and is attentive to their experience. God never approves when some starve and others have more than they need. The poor are those who are insignificant; they are the nameless and are not considered relevant.

My friends, the post-abortive women who have met Jesus, would all qualify as "poor" in this sense. Very, very few of them are able to tell their stories publicly. Because I have heard so many, let me share with you something of what I have heard.

Some Christians refer to them as having been "just plain selfish," or worse. Every woman's story is so complex that none of us has any right to dismiss it with a simple word like "selfish."

Other Christians loudly and forcefully proclaim, "There are other issues besides abortion." It is true that God is on the side of all of the poor of this world: the people of Darfur, women and children working for slave wages and in inhumane conditions all over the world. But there are desperately poor women in our midst who suffer in silence. The proclamation: "there are other issues" can sound insensitive and it can hurt these women. Some may hear it, as something like, "Other than that, how was the trip to Dallas, Mrs. Kennedy?" Instead of seeking to justify public figures who support abortion rights, how about a simple acknowledgment that such individuals are wrong about abortion, period.

Outside of the Church, women are often told, "You did the right thing; you had no other choice." But the grief and remorse they carry in their hearts tell them otherwise. We are a "happy" culture. We don't want to discuss painful and difficult issues. Many women settle for living with their pain because they are never invited to face the grief abortion brought to their hearts.

Some say, "No one forced them to have abortions." That is so untrue! Just listen to a few stories of manipulative, even coercive. Boyfriends not ready to be fathers or stories of parents who decided to terminate their daughters' motherhood. And these women trusted the US government, which warns about all manner of food and drugs and harmful activities, but allows abortion without comment. In their moment of crisis, women figure, "it is legal, so it must be safe; it won't hurt me."

If we hear of the difficult and seemingly impossible situations of women, we can understand why abortions happen. I believe that most everyone who supports abortion follows situation ethics. The problem, of course, with situation ethics is that it reflects only partial truth. We hear what happens a year, or five or ten, or twenty or sixty years later. A mother loses a child, or needs help and she thinks of the child she aborted and she cannot change the choice from so long ago.

While thousands of women and men have found healing from their abortions, maybe only a couple of hundred are speaking out about how wrong their abortions were, how they hurt them. These few women are considered a great threat by the pro-abortion forces. They are dismissed as "an antiabortion tactic."

In our Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for those who suffer after abortion, there is a monstrance shaped like Mary with the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ, in her heart. It has rich meaning for them to remember that a woman like them carried the real Body of Christ in her body.

When women give birth I've heard many describe it as a miraculous process, as somehow touching the divine. They feel closer to God. It should be no surprise then, that when women deny the life within they feel separated from God. And the separation goes on for years.

In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament they finally feel welcomed home. They have a special love for the Eucharist because they felt separated from it for so many years.

Today we celebrate God's victory in Mary. And it is she, the loving and generous woman who went to be with her cousin Elizabeth, who invites us to this table.

But Mary the prophet also stands with poor post-abortive women and men. She asks that any who were in positions of power and failed to act to stop abortion stay back and contemplate their position, just as women who had abortions often had to spend years in contemplation of their choice. How much sense does it make to invite someone forward for Communion who has some responsibility for keeping others away?

We must come back to Mary. We do her injustice if we fail to appreciate the fullness of her person. She is a loving prophet. When we proclaim the truth as Mary did, we always do so in a firm but loving manner. Mary never threw stones-and neither should we.

Fr. Neal Wilkinson, SJ has been active with Rachel's Vineyard since 1999 and has served on retreat teams in Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Minnesota. He is currently serving as associate pastor at SS Peter and Paul Church in Mankato, MN. He is on the Rachel's Vineyard e-mail buddy list, and can be reached at 

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Each year, 1.18 million women have abortions. Yet no long-term study has ever been done in order to assess the emotional impact of abortion on women. Those of us involved in post abortion ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard have witnessed first-hand the devastating experiences of loss, guilt, suicidal impulses, anxiety and depression in connection with their previous abortion. H.R. 4543 provides $15 million to the National Institutes of Health to research the emotional impact of abortion on women.

Representative Joe Pitts introduced the new bill HR 4543 which would provide funding of the development of treatment programs for women who suffer post abortion depression. It currently has 26 co-sponsors and is referred to as H.R. 4543—The Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act. The bill would expand activities of the National Institutes of Mental Health, as well as other Institutes, for activities related to post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis. The bill would authorize appropriation of $3,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2005 through 2009 for post-abortion conditions programming. It would also require the Secretary of HHS to provide grants to improve health care delivery services and access to care. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

To read the actual bill H.R. 4543 Click here

To link to other information on this bill: Talking Points on the Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care ...

Congressional Bill Would Foster Research on Post-Abortion ...


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Slowly, all through the universe, that temple of God is being built. Wherever, in any world, a soul, by free-willed obedience, catches the fire of God's likeness, it is set into the growing walls, a living stone. When, in your hard fight, in your tiresome drudgery, or in your terrible temptation, you catch the purpose of your being and give yourself to God, and so give Him the chance to give Himself to you, your life -- a living stone -- is taken up and set into that growing wall. Wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely ways, there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple. Oh, if the stone can only have some vision of the temple of which it is to be a part forever, what patience must fill it as it feels the blows of the hammer, and knows that success for it is simply to let itself be wrought into what shape the Master wills.

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), The Law of Growth [1902]

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Please pray for Donna Augustine’s family and the departed soul of her father Daniel Caprario. Donna’s dad lost a long battle with cancer on August 15. Donna has been active with Rachel’s Vineyard for many years in Philadelphia. She currently serves as one of the lead coordinators in Jacksonville, Florida. Let us pray together for her entire family during this time of separation and grief.

Please pray for a young woman "Caroline" who recently took her life because of unbearable heartbreak caused by a coerced abortion.

We thank God for all the many laborers he has sent into Rachel’s Vineyard, as leaders, teachers, and ministers of the Lord’s love and mercy. We extend a warm welcome to all the new retreat teams, especially the newest Rachel’s Vineyard sites in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and Madrid, Spain! We welcome several new sites in development this month: Marsha Tucker in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the first Rachel’s Vineyard retreats are being planned for Glasgow, Scotland by Linda Porter from British Victims of Abortion and in Canberra, Australia by Camille Corson

Please pray for Pam’s husband, Robert Montelongo. Robert suffered a massive heart attack and is recovering from a very serious quadruple bypass surgery. Pam Montelongo is a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard team in Los Angeles and has been working to help establish a new RV site in San Bernardino, California. Please keep Robert in your prayers for increasing strength and a full recovery.

Mary Alice Schonberger is the woman behind the Rachel’s Vineyard 1 877 HOPE 4 ME toll free national hotline. Please pray for Mary Alice’s mother, who was displaced after Hurricane Charlie ripped through her neighborhood in Florida. We pray for all those who are victimized by natural disasters, especially those who suffer the death of a loved one in storms and sudden accidents.

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For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

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Silent No More has started posting events for this fall on their website and encourage you to visit to see what’s happening in your area.

Chris Jackman and Stacy Lynn Massey are putting together a directory and network of all the abortion recovery programs available nationwide: ARIN, the Abortion Recovery International Network and directory: Their new website for the network is up, visit Remember, if you run an abortion recovery program they want you to get in contact with them and get your Program registered. Click here to link to their website page that has info about the directory:

Also, there is an exciting new way for you to share the truth about abortion with others using the medium of television. The story of Tilly, a novelette written many years ago by Frank Peretti has been produced into a docu-drama that you can purchase on VHS or DVD. The program can be shown on TV or in private settings and highlights one woman’s journey through denial and healing. Visit Or call 800-92-TILLY for details on how to order.

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Never again are we to look at the stars, as we did when we were children, and wonder how far it is to God. A being outside our world would be a spectator, looking on but taking no part in this life, where we try to be brave despite all the bafflement. A god who created, and withdrew, could be mighty, but he could not be love. Who could love a God remote, when suffering is our lot? Our God is closer than our problems, for they are out there, to be faced; He is here, beside us, Emmanuel. Joseph E. McCabe (1912- ), Handel's Messiah [1978]

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My daughter's name is Heather Rose

And she is safe and happy

Up in Heaven with our Savior Jesus

And she and Jesus have done

What I never thought they could or should

They have forgiven me

For the abortion that destroyed

Heather Rose before she got to breathe

I have come to see since meeting her

That as horrible as the abortion was

The greatest dishonor to my daughter

Was denying that she was once a part of me.

She was once, before our meeting

In heaven looking down on me

Waiting for the day I could

Let go of my guilt and shame

And give her, her name.

Now she is a part of me as she once was

In my heart I will always carry her

Along with her love and her forgiveness

That was only hers to give

I long for the day I go to heaven

And hold my sweet Heather Rose

I will walk in the hills of heaven

Hand in hand with my Heather Rose.

Vlh 6/14/04

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For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14 (KJV)

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Sept 17, 2004 Conference Diocese of Fargo
Post-Abortion Care for Professionals: CEU credits available
Contact: Rachelle Sauvageau,
Respect Life Office

Sept 23, 2004 Delaware Right to Life Banquet
Theresa Burke will be giving a keynote on post abortion healing
contact Moria Sheridan
302) 478-5469

Sept 24, 2004 Clinical Training for Archdiocese of Newark
Newark, NJ
Kevin and Theresa will be presenting
Contact: Michelle Krystofik (732) 388-8211 

Sept 29, 2004 Seminar on Post-Abortion Trauma and Healing with Fr. Shane Tharp
Catholic Charities Maine is sponsoring an educational training day for
clergy and parish ministers in Augusta on September 29, 2004. This workshop is offered to help enrich parish ministry and outreach to the post-abortive and their families. For more information take a look at our brochure "Come Back To Me" at  (link at bottom of first page)

Contact: Jeanne Bull

Oct 19, 2004 Diocese of Peoria, Illinois – Full
Day Clinical Training
CEU credits available
Contact: Jean Whelan: 309-671-1550

Nov 4-6, 2004 Rochester Clinical Training (Theresa & Kevin)
CUE credits available
Contact: Amy Crossed:
Project Rachel: Diocese of Rochester

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God is none other than the Savior of our wretchedness. So we can only know God well by knowing our iniquities... Those who have known God without knowing their wretchedness have not glorified him, but have glorified themselves.

... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

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August 6-8, 2004 -- Clearwater, Florida
Marian Servants of Our Lady of Divine Providence Retreat House
Contact: Emma Boe 813 631 4370

August 6-8, 2004 -- Cedar Falls, Iowa
Contact: Maria Shores 319 530 2597(mobile)

August 13-15, 2004 -- Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota
Contact: Nancy Blom
Contact: Gail Checco 888 329 3773

August 13-15, 2004 -- Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky
Contact: Gloria Santoro 513 588 9669

August 20-22, 2004 -- Auburn, Washington
Contact: Valerie Jacobs 800 822 HOPE

August 27-29, 2004 -- Fort Worth, Texas
Contact: Betsy Kopor 817 923 4757

August 27-29, 2004 -- Mendham, New Jersey
Contact: Linda Trignano 973-722-9961(Mobile)
Contact: Lori 973-670-8885 (Mobile)

August 27-29, 2004 -- Gaylord, Michigan
Contact: Beth Bauer 800 727 5147 ext
3533 or 989 705 3533
Contact: Diocese of Gaylord

Note: Catholic Version of Retreat

September 3-5, 2004 -- Sonoma County, California
Note: Retreat may be offered in Spanish
Contact: Monika 925 798 7054

September 3-5, 2004 -- Cork City, Ireland
Contact: Bernadette 087 859 2877
Contact: Dr. Rita O'Connor 061 468 570

September 3-5, 2004 --Lisbon, Portugal
Contact: Claudia Muller 91 735 4602

September 10-12, 2004 -- St. Roberts, Missouri
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Sherrie Stanley 816 690
Contact: Rachel's Vineyard Kansas City 

September 17-19, 2004 -- Dallas, Texas
Note: in Spanish
Contact: Jackie 972 679 4760

September 17-19, 2004 -- Fairfield County, Connecticut
Contact: Clarissa Cincotta 203 218 0291

September 17-19, 2004 -- Janesville, Wisconsin
Local host: Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Cheryl Ryan 608 754 0309

September 17-19, 2004 -- Youngstown, Ohio
Contact: Brenda Dama 330 519 8838
Contact: Br. Vit Fiala 330 799 1888

September 17-19, 2004 -- Richmond, Virginia
Contact: Kay Marie Geiger 804 330 3137

September 17-19, 2004 -- Newark, New Jersey
Contact: Michelle Krystofik 732 388 8211

September 17-19, 2004 -- Portland, Oregon
Contact: Lori Eckstine 800 249 8074 or 541 521 5186

September 17-19, 2004 -- Westcliffe, Colorado
Note: Catholic Retreat
Contact: Deb Jackson 719 783 9168

September 17-19, 2004 -- Asheville, North Carolina
Local host: St. Banabas Respect Life Committee
Contact: Shelley Glanton 828 684 4330

September 17-19, 2004 -- Tulsa, Oklahoma
Contact: Toni 918 585 8167

September 17-19, 2004 -- Sacramento, California
Contact: Kathy Conner 916 733 0140

September 24-26, 2004 -- Willimantic, Connecticut
Local host: Immaculata Retreat House
Contact: Mary Hayden 203 882 1326

September 24-26, 2004 -- Providence, Rhode Island
Local host: Life & Family Ministry
Contact: Donna Warner 401
421 7833 ext 115 days / 401 785 9625 evenings

September 24-26, 2004 -- Temecula, California
English Retreat: Contact: Jeanette Kristensen jkristensen@juno.com951 693 9477
Spanish Retreat: Contact: Ruth Delgado 951 672 1067 Se Habla Espanol

September 24-26, 2004 -- Portland, Maine
Contact: Jeanne Bull 207 879 1130 ext 770 or 771
or toll-free 800 CARE 002

September 24-26, 2004 -- Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Contact: Mary Alice 877 467 3463

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For the first two or three years after my conversion, I used to ask for specific things. Now I ask for God. Supposing there is a tree full of fruits -— you will have to go and buy or beg the fruits from the owner of the tree. Every day you would have to go for one or two fruits. But if you can make the tree your own property, then all the fruits will be your own.  In the same way, if God is your own, then all things in Heaven and on earth will be your own, because He is your Father and is everything to you; otherwise you will have to go and ask like a beggar for certain things. When they are used up, you will have to ask again. So ask not for gifts but for the Giver of Gifts: not for life but for the Giver of Life -— then life and the things needed for life will be added unto you.

Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

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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 •