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VINE AND BRANCHES

The Monthly e-Newsletter of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries

May 2005

Rachel's Vineyard is on the web at: www.rachelsvineyard.org 

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

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Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion are held internationally. Rachel’s Vineyard welcomes, women, men, couples, grandparents and abortion providers. Our retreats are held in both Catholic and Interdenominational settings. Rachel's Vineyard Ministries is a resource for clinical training, education, and healing models.

Rachel’s Vineyard is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization. All contributions are tax deductible.

We work in close partnership with Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries.

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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.

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CONTENTS

Help us Find Our Mothers

Help us Train More Counselors

Song of Mercy

A Note from the Pastoral Director

In Concert "Tatiana Live" Benefits Rachel’s Vineyard

Excellent New Music

Welcome Victoria

Save The Dates for Leadership Conference

New Rachel’s Vineyard Sites Are Planted

Upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Schedule

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HELP US FIND OUR MOTHERS

(FATHERS AND GRANDPARENTS TOO!)

By Susan Gliko

It was Saturday night at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat in Rapid City S.D. We were preparing for the upcoming Living Scripture, Meeting the Children with Christ. The flowers had arrived and inventory was done. There were only enough flowers for the mothers who had lost children to abortion or miscarriage. There were not enough flowers for Lyle Seavy, who was trained by Project Rachel about post-abortion healing. He had traveled from Billings, MT to learn about Rachel’s Vineyard. Lyle is not post-abortive himself but has a heart as big and as gentle as Saint Joseph.

Lyle needed to enter the retreat process as a participant to find some part of his life that was aborted in some way. He was trying hard to enter each Living Scripture but was having difficulty staying focused; the Holy Spirit was stirring deep within his soul. The lights were turned off and Lyle listened to the Scripture reading in John 14 where Jesus tells us that in His Father’s house He has prepared a place for us and since He has prepared a place for us, He will come back for us. Then he heard Isaiah 30 which tells us that with our own eyes we would see our Teacher. He then heard the team pray for the Holy Spirit to anoint each one of us.

He was told to sit back get comfortable and breathe in the mercy of our Lord and breathe out any feelings of darkness -- breathe in the tenderness of Jesus and breathe out any fear -- breathe in the hope of Jesus Christ and breathe out any despair and feelings of shame. With music playing softly in the background, the meditation led him through a dark forest. He was surprised at how clearly he was seeing everything in this meditation and actually felt twigs break beneath his feet and branches catch on his clothing.

He emerged from the dark forest into a sunny, flower filled meadow. In the distance he saw Jesus surrounded by all the children. His heart was moved with the reality of all of those children. They were so happy and full of life. Lyle stood off to the side as Jesus began to introduce the children to their mothers and his heart was moved with merciful compassion and quiet joy at watching the bond of mother and child be restored by our dear precious Lord.

Then suddenly Lyle noticed two little children, left unattended with no mothers. They looked at him standing off to the side watching the mothers and children hug and hold each other. With flowers in their hands they ran up to him, gave him the meadow blossoms and said, "Help us find our mothers."

It was at this time the team found they had two extra flowers. They double checked to make sure each mother had received a flower representing her lost children and they all had. They decided to give the extra two flowers to Lyle, who still had his eyes closed, with tears streaming down his face.

When he was handed the flowers, that God had multiplied, Lyle exclaimed, "Two children came up to me, gave me flowers and asked me to help them find their mothers!"

As he shared his experience in the meadow with Christ and the children, we all wept. Several of the women begged Lyle not to quit searching for the mothers of those children.

This event was the confirmation that shed light on Lyle’s discernment of whether he was called to this post-abortion healing ministry of Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. He has been called. The children from heaven have asked him to "Help us find our mothers."

The third retreat will soon be held in Montana. With each retreat Lyle sees those children. They have not yet found their mothers.

Lyle holds a master of science in counseling, and is a nationally certified counselor, certified mental health counselor and licensed professional counselor. He is working on his Ph.D. in healthcare administration from Cappella University.

Rachel’s Vineyard not only helps mothers find their children but also fathers, grandparents and all the others deeply wounded by an abortion experience. For more information about Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, check out the web at www.rachelsvineyard.org or call 877-HOPE-4-ME.

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"It is love that converts hearts and gives peace."

Pope John Paul II

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HELP US TRAIN MORE COUNSELORS LIKE LYLE!

Imagine how much good Lyle will accomplish by helping children find their mothers, fathers and grandparents through Rachel’s Vineyard! With your help, we can train even more counselors like Lyle to minister to those deeply wounded by abortion. Please support our efforts with your prayers and assist us by sending a tax-deductible donation of $1,000 . . . $500 . . . $100 . . . or even $25 to defray our training and retreat costs. Your donation will bring healing and light to your family in Christ. It will be the means through which they can breathe in the mercy of our Lord. Click here: http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/support/support.htm to contribute via credit card or PayPal or send an e-mail directly to me at t.burke@rachelsvineyard.org and I will forward a postage-paid envelope.

Also, if you would like to receive an expanded, print edition of each Vine & Braches newsletter, send me an e-mail with "Subscribe: Newsletter Print Edition " in the subject line – be sure to include your mailing address too.

Love and Peace to You in this Springtime!

Theresa Burke, Ph.D.
Founding Director, Rachel's Vineyard Ministries
PO Box 195
Bridgeport, Pa. 19406

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Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the day of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23:6

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SONG OF MERCY

By Trish Short

There have been several significant milestones in my ongoing healing journey from the tragedy of two abortions. The two that have had the most profound effect have been attending two Rachel's Vineyard retreats and also, being introduced to a powerful, healing prayer entitled, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Ten years ago, when I first came to acknowledge the abortions, there was a complete manic quest for atonement; I could not do enough to try to earn forgiveness. I was completely burned out, well over 200 pounds and spent most weekends in bed, curled in the fetal position. I had no close friends, my husband was loving and steadfast, but inside, I was dying. I could not forgive myself for the abortions; I punished and shielded myself with the weight, and could not look in a mirror.

One day I was asked to testify before the Senate Health Care Committee in support of The Woman's Right to Know Act. It was very traumatic as it was the first time I had ever given a testimony about my saline abortion. I traveled home that day with a gentle, older woman, from our local Catholic Church. She told me she felt I was still suffering with tremendous shame and condemnation from the abortions and told me she knew of something that would help me. She said, 'Please, promise me you will go to a Catholic bookstore and ask for the prayer booklet called, 'The Chaplet of Divine Mercy.' This woman had such a great peace and joy shining from her eyes, sadly, it made me recognize that I did not. Even though I was not a Catholic, I bought the booklet. When I knelt by my bed and prayed it for the very first time, something inside me broke... The words of the prayer, powerfully and universally Christian, offered up the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father, to beg His mercy over our sins and the sins of the whole world. Reciting the words shattered the darkest depths of my soul and my heart was opened, I could finally accept the cry of Jesus from the cross, "It is finished." The Divine Mercy prayer helped to ignite all of Scriptures promises within me. Now, forever etched upon my heart the truth broke free, I knew I was forgiven, that my children were alive and waiting for me!

I am a producer, singer/songwriter and eight years after I first prayed this Mercy prayer and acknowledged my two sons lost to abortion, I was asked to put this prayer to music. Two years ago, we released, 'The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song' on CD, we also sing it on TV and it airs worldwide on EWTN, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:00am & 3:00pm EST, it has become an international best seller. The prayer is sung by myself and two other pro-life artist friends and we are all different denominations; Assembly of God, Catholic and African Methodist-Episcopalian between us. We came together as Christians in a spirit of unity, because we had all experienced God's mercy. Gratefully we sang, hoping to take this great message of God's mercy to a hurting world. 70 pounds and many sizes lighter, I no longer carry that crippling shame and condemnation, because mercy is what I was finally able to receive. That God has allowed me to sing this prayer, extending his mercy by imploring it's powerful words, reminds me that as a Christian I am called to intercede, to care for others. Yet, every time I sing or pray it, I know it is also a personal prayer. I watch as it continues to heal and restore my life, and I see that it will forever be for me, a song of mercy.

If you would like to order 'The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song available on CD - contact Trish Short: 410-526-7497

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Forgiveness should not merely be passive; it should be a lively act of love.

Elisabeth Leseur

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A NOTE FROM OUR PASTORAL DIRECTOR

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Lucille Dippolito. She is the mother of 20 children! It was a delight to listen to her describe the joy that comes amidst the hardships of raising such a large family. She summed it up in one simple, wise statement: "The more children, the more love!"

Since my meeting with her, I have also met a mother of 25 children, and in the course of my travels, often enough meet moms who have given birth to ten or more.

For many Churches, a special observance of Mothers’ Day is one of the key life affirming activities they carry out during the year. Perhaps a rose is given, or a special blessing. Whether your Church has such an observance or not, let’s all pray together, with special intensity, for all mothers on this Mothers’ Day. Let us pray in particular for mothers of children who have died. They are, and always remain, mothers - even into eternity. Mothers are so important that even God decided He should have one. Mrs. Dippolito was right: "The more children, the more love." Let our love continue to grow for the mothers and children, living in this world or the next.

Fr. Frank Pavone

Note: The testimony of Lucille Dippolito, and other mothers of large families, can be found at www.priestsforlife.org/testimony/motherslargefamilies.htm

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IN CONCERT "TATIANA LIVE" Benefits Rachel’s Vineyard

By Maria Shores

A great many concerned and caring people have deep convictions and feelings about abortion; feelings that tug at our hearts and sometimes even anger us. This message is to those who not only sacrificially give their time and resources to save lives, but also passionately long to shine hope and mercy into the dark night of human pain experienced by parents and families who have lost a child to abortion.

We are excited about our first fundraising event—the "Struggles and Graces" concert with Christian singer Tatiana, May 13 at 7:00 pm at River of Life Church, 3801 Blairs Ferry Rd., Cedar Rapids, IA. This concert is a story of hope and healing after abortion. We ask that you encourage your friends and churches in Iowa and surrounding states to support this important event. Tickets are $11 per person and are available at the door, or by contacting Maria at (319)665-9588 or maria.shores@rachelsvineyard.org.

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EXCELLENT NEW MUSIC

Susan Wood was responsible for starting the Rachel’s Vineyard site in Northern Alabama. However, her talents go much further than the organization of a new ministry. She is a very talented and soulful musician, and we congratulate her on her recent release of her latest recording entitled "She Speaks."

"She Speaks" is the first Catholic Christian music CD by singer/songwriter/musician Susan Wood, who has been seen on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and Backstage. Capture the essence of Mother's love at its purest and the essence of holy childhood with this unique and beautiful collection. From the inspired title song, "She Speaks" to an unforgettable tribute to the angels in "Angels Lead the Way," this recording is not to be missed! Not one song on this recording sounds like the previous. It will hold your interest and your heart. The final song, "Lullaby for Baby Jesus", is a powerful finale and was inspired as Susan contemplated what Mary's thoughts might have been in the days leading up to the birth of Jesus, the days following his birth, and what her thoughts and feelings might have been when there was no room for them in the inn. A fascinating and soulful composition! This extraordinary artist will warm your heart and lift your spirits with her hauntingly rich and mellow voice.

For ordering information, visit Susan’s website at www.elijahsway.org. You can also find "She Speaks" distributed by Heartbeat Records, Amazon.com, CD Baby, and Tower Records.

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WELCOME VICTORIA!

Victoria Taylor Naoe is a native Long Island, New Yorker and has lived in Pennsylvania since 1985. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother of three. Victoria has worked in the Legal Professional field, since 1992. She is a lector at her church, Visitation BVM, Trooper, PA and also involved with the Charismatic Prayer Group at her church.

When Victoria made her first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat she received an immense healing and grace from her weekend. She said the experience was "life changing". Her attitude was that she felt the urgency to help in any way possible to let more people know that they don’t have to deal with Post-Abortion Trauma alone. Rachel’s Vineyard is there to help you get through it because there are so many other men and women who are keeping this a secret, and they don’t have to any longer.

Victoria recently joined our team at the Rachel’s Vineyard National office as an Administrative Assistant. She will also be helping on the Rachel’s Vineyard Hotline. Victoria shares an enthusiasm and eagerness to help spread the Good News through Rachel’s Vineyard. As someone who has experienced it firsthand, she shares her own prayer with all of us.

Certain sins have been difficult for me to release. Lord, I ask for the strength and courage to accept the grace You are giving me to overcome my pain.

I had been in darkness most of my life, but now because of Rachel’s Vineyard, I have come into the light. I no longer feel afraid!

I didn’t know you then Lord, but now, I give you my heart, my soul and my love.

Victoria Naoe

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Deliver me from my "secret sins" Lord, and set me free through knowledge of the truth.

Johnnette S. Benkovic – Grace-Filled Moments

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SAVE THE DATES FOR LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE:

November 13-18, 2005, is the week for the Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Retreat. Detailed information will be posted in next Month’s June issue of Vine and Branches.

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Here I am Lord, Send me!

Isaiah 6:8

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NEW RACHEL VINEYARD SITES ARE PLANTED

Rachel Vineyard continues to grow like an abundant and fruit producing vine! This month we welcome another 8 retreat locations. Dynamic and enthusiastic individuals are being called and gifted from all parts of the world to help in this beautiful movement of the spirit.

We have been blessed by the organizational efforts of our New Retreat Site Coordinator, Michelle Krystofik. Michelle has been doing a fantastic job of assisting and keeping track of new teams as well as assigning training mentors to each site. If anyone is interested in starting a new retreat site, please contact Michelle Krystofik: mkrystofik@comcast.net

We extend a warm welcome to all the new Rachel’s Vineyard retreat sites preparing to plant and spread seed for this ministry. We are blessed to have so many workers in Rachel’s Vineyard, and so many individuals who are willing to serve as trainers and mentors. Real faith and real religion is always redemption in the here and now. Everyone working in Rachel’s Vineyard can attest that we witness and serve as conduits for the spirit of the Living God. We have experienced first-hand that God forgives and restores. He has blessed us with a strongly based hope for the future and hereafter, and our vocation is to share that reality with others. The presence of faith, hope, and love makes each and every opportunity to incarnate the Living Christ in our ministries an exciting adventure!

Please keep these special individuals and new locations in your prayers!

Vladivostoki, Russia: Christina Paulova

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Sr. Mary Carole Curran

Aberdeen, Scotland: Dawn Williams

Steubenville, OHIO: Sharon Maedke and Sr. Maria Pio Wiggins

El Paso, TX: Maria Acosta

San Jose, California: Mary Peter McCusker, RSM

Launceston, Tasmania: Anne Sherston

Venice Florida: Marina Kopko

Belfast, Ireland: Lynn Coles

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We love because it is the only true adventure

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Upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Schedule (Click here)

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New Website:

The site address is: www.TellMyAbortionStory.com.  Under the "Read A Story" section are stories of regret from women who have had abortions.

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To subscribe to this newsletter: Send an e-mail to Katie@rachelsvineyard.org 

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

Publisher: Rachel's Vineyard Ministries

Editor: Theresa Burke, Ph.D.

Comments and questions: t.burke@rachelsvineyard.org 

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Rachel's Vineyard ® All rights reserved.

© 2005

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org