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March 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 1


The Monthly E-Newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard

© 2002 - Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries


Publisher: Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

Editor: Leslie Graves

Information or comments: or


"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19



1. Welcome from the editor

2. God’s Love has no language barriers: a cracked pot in Portugal

3. Interdenominational version of retreat manual available in March.

4. First Spanish Language Retreat offered by Project Rachel-Portland.

5. Clinical Training/talks/other presentations about Rachel’s Vineyard

6. A Fireman at the retreat

7. Recent Media coverage of Rachel’s Vineyard

8. Status of "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion"

9. National Leadership Conference in July



Welcome to our first edition. As Theresa Burke wrote in her note introducing this newsletter, our goal is to share news about the development of what began as a small seed, and through God’s power, and the loving service of so many generous laborers in the vineyard, has continued to bear generous and abundant fruit.

May I also express my gratitude for your interest in Rachel’s Vineyard? If you are not actively involved in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team, you can’t imagine how important it is to us to be aware of your prayers, interest and support.

My name is Leslie Graves. I’m the editor of this newsletter, a married mom with three kids, and a retreat team member in Madison, Wisconsin. Please contact me directly at if you have any questions or comments.

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.

Blessings and peace,

Leslie Graves

4125 Cherokee Dr., Madison, WI 53711; 608-218-1264



Msgr. Richard McGuinness, the Director of the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of Newark, and Michelle Krystofik, the Associate Director of that office, were invited by The Family Life Office of the Diocese of Lisbon to assist them as they offered their first Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend Retreat.

Msgr. McGuinness, Michelle and her team have been offering a beautiful retreat several times a year since 1997. Michelle wrote this about her experience at the first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat held in Portugal:

"As we all gathered, you could feel the Lord’s presence and the peace of the Holy Spirit. The woman who was facilitating her first retreat, Claudia, was naturally anxious. However, as she lit the Christ candle, symbolizing Christ’s presence in the room, her face was filled with peace and tranquility. It was a miracle to behold! Claudia sat with her RV manual in Portuguese and I sat at her right hand with my manual in English. I speak absolutely no Portuguese (except for one word I learned while I was there -- obrrigada -- thank you!) but I didn’t need to. I was able to follow along and guide Claudia whenever she needed help or was unsure of herself. It was really a beautiful synergism of love. There were also two people from Spain on the retreat, who spoke some Portuguese, but as the Lord planned it, Msgr. McGuinness speaks excellent Spanish!

At some points on the weekend, three languages were being spoken, English, Portuguese and Spanish. It didn’t matter what language we used, the  Lord’s language of healing and love was all that we needed. We experienced God’s mercy, love and forgiveness through the visible transformation of those in attendance.

This was a tangible sign of God’s presence. The Paschal Mystery was once again revealed, unfolding before our eyes. We suffered together as we walked to Calvary, we were present at the Crucifixion and we rose with Jesus at the Resurrection! Language made no difference. Jesus the Healer transcends all human constraints!

Being a part of this unique and beautiful experience also led to a special gift of healing and freedom for me. I came home understanding in the deepest parts of my soul that I am not in control. Jesus uses cracked pots like me to do HIS work. And it is HIS alone! I’ve never felt so free or confident that it’s not about me or anyone else who runs a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. If we get out of the way He will perform his miracles, we just have to let him do it....and it doesn’t matter what language or what country, the healing process of Rachel’s Vineyard works. Why? Because it is of God and His love has no barriers or boundaries."


"When God sends a new dawn, He sends it for everyone."-Cervantes



The long-awaited Interdenominational version of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat manual will be available in March. Many thanks to Terry Lennox, Adele Harrison, Camille Harrison, Chela Gomez, Cynthia Wright and Jeanette Kristensen; members of the Temecula Californian retreat team who assisted in the revisions. Since its very beginning, Rachel’s Vineyard retreats have been attended by Christians of all denominations. It is a great blessing to have a version of the retreat manual available for sponsorship, team development and hosting by other Christian denominations and groups. Twenty-eight manuals have already been ordered including an order from England. You can place an order for the Interdenominational Manual with Kevin at or by calling 610-354-0555 or sending a fax to 610-354-0311.


"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners." Isaiah 61: 1



Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries sponsors an interactive e-mail forum for retreat team members who have served on at least one retreat. The list includes novice team members and highly experienced lay facilitators and mental health professionals. It is a way to share insights, experiences, information, support and prayers. Kelly Fitzpatrick of the Catholic Charities/Project Rachel office in Portland shared with that list their experience in hosting the first exclusively Spanish-language RVR retreat in January 2002:

"Thank you for your powerful prayers for the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat led totally in Spanish by Antonia Valdes, who does our Project Rachel in Spanish. The retreat she lead is apparently the very first Spanish-only RV in all of North and Latin America. The wonderful folks in Kansas City report that they had one in English, with an interpreter working for much of it for an Hispanic couple, and we hear there are many others doing Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion ministry, and preparing for retreats, in the Hispanic community all over.

Theresa Burke had dedicated volunteers working up to the very last moments translating the bulk of the manual and since Antonia is an experienced retreat facilitator and since God’s hand was very busy, the whole retreat was quite beautiful. It was just like the ones in English - except for the language and some of the cultural additions like an Hispanic menu - and priests from Latin America.

The next retreat in Spanish will probably be in another four months, since we plan to alternate English / Spanish retreats every two months as long as we have the resources and the retreatants. Miracles were very profound and I saw the women reach in very deep to do their work and they each were fully present for receiving God’s loving mercy. This retreat was truly an amazing example to me (I was the kitchen and spiritual support for this retreat. I mostly washed dishes, and did some mothering when asked, since I only know English) of how God always reaches us exactly where we are at, loving us too much to leave us there. These retreatants have had some of the more difficult extreme experiences that our women bring to the ministry. They received dramatic blessings and they have begun healing journeys that are just as powerful.

    Love in Christ,

    Kelly Fitzpatrick, Catholic Charities Project Rachel  
    of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon"



++Clinical Training’s++

Theresa Burke offers a one day Clinical Training that helps prepare the soil for the retreat to take root and thrive. It will equip those on the front lines in your community, mental health workers, physicians, health care professionals, crisis pregnancy workers and lay volunteers with a vast knowledge regarding post abortion trauma, pregnancy loss, and unresolved grief.

A Clinical Training was hosted by the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida on January 15-17, attended by 52 people. Theresa was also able to meet with the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat follow-up group in Florida, which is called Rachel’s Joy.

Here is what Donna Garner, Associate Director for Post Abortion Healing and Reconciliation in the Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Palm Beach, said about this clinical training:

"We got incredible feedback and many priests, religious and laity that want to help. One huge benefit to our ministry was meeting so many priests who want to participate. Our time with Theresa was AWESOME. She is so knowledgeable, and of course has had extensive hands-on experience. This is invaluable to those just getting started. It is evident that she loves the Lord, which comes through to everyone she comes in contact with. The training itself was thorough, to the point, informative, up to date, timely and even fun, because Theresa laughs at herself! She is very down-to-earth and people are able to relate to her. At the end of the training, we were exhausted but ready to go! We felt very energized and equipped with the information and tools to use at the retreat."

Theresa also gave a Clinical Training in Romeoville, Illinois on February 20, hosted by the Diocese of Joliet. The training was attended by 115 participants from four different states, and was followed by the first team meeting of the new Diocese of Joliet Rachel’s Vineyard team. And, Theresa gave a presentation and training on Rachel’s Vineyard and post-abortion trauma at Epiphany Church in Richmond, Virginia on January 23-24.

Theresa was also honored to give a presentation on February 2nd at a conference, "Friendship, Forgiveness, Freedom", in Rhode Island sponsored by Canticle Magazine and The Alliance of Catholic Women.

In addition, appearances too numerous to mention here were made in January and February by many others involved in Rachel’s Vineyard to churches, confirmation classes, young adult groups, RCIA , Bible study and prayer groups, and so on. If you would like to arrange such an appearance, please contact your local Rachel’s Vineyard team. You can locate a contact name and number for your local team through the national Rachel’s Vineyard webpage at



After the events of September 11, team members across the country wondered what effect that shattering and numbing event might have on upcoming retreats. One team leader shared this experience. Details have been changed as necessary and permission obtained from those involved to share this story, which occurred at a retreat on September 16, 2001.

"There was a lot of pain this weekend and a lot of healing and joy. One woman who was there told me that it was her husband who encouraged her to attend this weekend. He told her that when he was in college, his girl friend became pregnant with his child and had an abortion. She told him afterwards. He told his wife that he knows the pain that he has been in all these years, so he can only imagine what his wife’s pain was from her earlier abortion.

When it came time for his wife to read her letter at the Memorial Service, he came up with her. She moved aside and he spoke from his heart about his baby. They were together, sharing their tears, sorrow and their support for each other.

We were all very moved. What was even more moving was that he did this standing there in his formal fireman’s uniform. This was just five days after the New York tragedy. Since September 11th, he had been wearing the formal uniform whenever he went anywhere, to be united in spirit with the firefighters that were going to NY from the surrounding areas.

To see him standing there, in that uniform, after what happened just five days earlier and to see him crying and pouring his heart out about his baby - well, all I can say is, we all cried. His witness about missing his baby was so healing for the women. To see a man cry over his lost child, and standing there in that uniform so soon after the tragedy was so moving. Afterwards, he went over, said good-bye and put his baby in the cradle. When we had Mass, after communion, we sang God Bless America. There was a small flag in the chapel and he held it and the tears rolled down his face. He really was a gift."

(Note: Couples and single men often attend the retreat with wonderful results.)



Here are some highlights of recent coverage. If you are interested in a complete list of radio and TV appearances, and magazine and newspaper articles, please send an e-mail requesting that information to:

In January, Theresa and Kevin Burke were interviewed about RVR on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Decision Today program. This radio show is archived on the Decision Today website and you can still listen to it by clicking through to this link:

(Scroll down to January 22 for the exact link you will need to listen to the program; the interview starts at minute 1:00 and goes until about minute 5:50.)

Also, in January, Theresa was honored to appear on Dr. Greg Popchak’s Heart, Soul and Mind radio show, which is nationally syndicated and also available through webcast (but not archived). Dr. Popchak is a therapist and author of several books, including "Parenting with Grace" and "For Better..Forever: A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage." (See: for more information.)

Theresa was interviewed by Tim Wildmon on American Family Radio’s "Today’s Issues" in late January. This show is syndicated on over 200 radio stations.The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette carried a lengthy article about post-abortion healing in their Sunday, January 20 issue. A Rachel’s Vineyard retreatant says in the article:

" ‘There is not one iota of judgment or guilt-throwing in that program,’ she said. ‘I think they helped me to surface my own guilt and they helped me get past it. I think I had carried a lot of guilt, but I lived with it by burying it...the memorial Mass was heartbreaking and necessary’, she said. ‘I had never, never thought about those children until that program. Now I pray for them and to them. They are real to me now, as painful as that is. I finally acknowledged them as human beings.’" (For the complete article, click here:



Hard-cover copies of "Forbidden Grief" by Theresa Burke, Ph.D. with David Reardon, Ph.D. will be published and available in late March 2002.

Copies are $24.95 plus $4.00 S&H. To pre-order copies, please send a check for $28.95 to Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, 743 Roy Road, King of Prussia, Pa. 19406.

The Rachel’s Vineyard webpage has a new page about "Forbidden Grief" at this link

All proceeds from the book go to support post-abortion ministry and research. Mental health professionals, post-abortive men and women, policy analysts, and others have praised "Forbidden Grief" very generously. You can read many of those comments on the "Forbidden Grief" websites noted above.

Here also is a recent comment about the book from an English doctor, Trevor Griffiths. I chose this comment because Dr. Griffiths has no involvement in abortion from a policy perspective and prior to reading "Forbidden Grief," had never considered the question of post-abortion grief. He is the author of a general work on repressed grief, "Lost and Then Found." Dr. Griffiths wrote:

"This book is a masterly, sensitive and thorough opening of a difficult subject that many prefer not to face. I see this deeply quiet suffering re-emerge in some of my patients years after the events. To find my own experience reflected in case after case presented anonymously in this book is a reassurance to me that I am not just conjuring up fantasies. The sensitivity displayed by the authors in presenting this material leaves one in no doubt that their intention is to get proper counseling and support for women who feel trapped with their grief.

[Through my practice] I particularly recognize the subjects of lifestyle deterioration and relationship problems covered in the chapters entitled, ‘Something Inside has Died,’ and ‘Paradise Lost’. It is as if for some a dream of self-control has been torn to shreds. But of course, even those who retain high levels of self-control may find that in their quieter moments, and at anniversaries, they still remember.

"We have a new taboo, the collusion of silence about grief and death. Our culture has lost the skills to recognize and manage grief emotions. This book is a major contribution to fill out an honest roundness of our humanity. "

Dr Trevor Griffiths, MA(Oxon), MBBS, MRCGP 
Author, "Lost and Then Found: Turning Life’s Disappointments into Hidden Treasures".



The third annual Rachel’s Vineyard International Leadership Training Conference will be held from July 10-14, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Conferencematerials can be e-mailed to you by sending your request to Theresa Burke,

More information about the Leadership Training will be provided in the April issue of this newsletter. Registration & Conference Information is also posted on our website


Questions or comments about Vine & Branches: The Rachel’s Vineyard Newsletter may be directed to the Editor, Leslie Graves, at


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"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with

healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth leaping as calves from the

stall." Malachi 4:2-3


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