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April 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 2


The Monthly E-Newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard,

a division of the American Life League

© 2002 - Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries


Publisher: Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

Editor: Leslie Graves

Information or comments: or


"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those

who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18.


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.



1. Note from the Editor

2. Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference in July

3. Praying for retreats and retreatants

4. Forthcoming and recent media coverage

5. Recent and upcoming clinical training/talks

6. "Forbidden Grief" now available!

7. A brief history of Rachel’s Vineyard

8. Prayer from a retreatant

9. *oaktrees*



Welcome to our second edition. And, thank you so much for the many notes of encouragement and support we’ve received. It means a lot.

From our mail we could see that many of you received the first edition of "Vine and Branches" because a friend forwarded it to you. You’ve requested introductory information about this ministry and we will make sure to include it on an ongoing basis. In this issue, for those of you who are just learning about Rachel’s Vineyard, there’s an article about prayer support of Rachel’s Vineyard and an article about the early history of Rachel’s Vineyard.

We enjoy hearing from our readers! Please don’t hesitate to write with any comments or questions you may have.

Blessings and peace,

Leslie Graves

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


"That reunion in the upper room was a defining moment in our relationship with God. Because with those simple words of blessing -"Peace be with you" Jesus let us know once and for all what God is really about: healing, not wounding or punishing, just healing, building peace, making people whole. He also let us know what we’re to be about, the very same thing, healing, building peace, helping to make people whole." Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.



The full program of this summer’s 3rd annual Rachel’s Vineyard National Leadership Training is now set.

The Leadership Training takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana from Wednesday, July 10 through Sunday, July 14.

There is an exciting line-up of speakers and workshop presenters. The Leadership Training includes four full tracks, each with twelve presentations: an Introductory Track, a Clinical Training Track, a Personal Growth and Aftercare Track, and a track on Spiritual Development.

The Introductory Track alone is a full-scale course on all the nuts and bolts associated with establishing a wonderful and thriving Rachel’s Vineyard ministry in your area.

Mental health professionals and clinicians will share a wealth of clinical information on healing post-abortion syndrome in the Clinical Track, including important presentations on men and abortion, traumatic re-enactment, flooding techniques and unblocking repressed grief, role plays for reconciliation, facilitation skills for group dynamics, how the abortion wound emerges during the childbearing years and much else.

For Personal Growth and Aftercare, Rachel’s Vineyard team leaders and retreat alumni will present a wide array of compelling and important information in presentations such as "Love and Boundaries: Learning to Care for our Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Needs", "Learning to Walk Again: Trust and Empowerment" "Learning to Live With Hope for the Future."

And there are also twelve full presentations focusing on Spiritual Development, such as "Gifts that Glow in the Darkness", "Journey to Emmaus-spiritual healing for grief and loss" and talks by Christopher West, an internationally recognized expert on John Paul II’s theology of the body and author of "Good News About Sex & Marriage" and the forthcoming "John Paul II’s Theology of the Body Explained".

The cost of the National Leadership Training for an individual is $100; for full-time students and religious the price is $29.00. The conference will occur at the beautiful Hyatt Regency at the Superdome. Room are $125/night, which you can share with up to three others.

Whether you want to learn more about how to plant the seed for a Rachel’s Vineyard, develop and strengthen your clinical skills, or participate in personal healing exercises, this National Leadership Training offers a vast array of opportunities.

For full information on the Internet, please go to: or

Or send an e-mail to Theresa Burke at and you can receive a file attachment of all the conference details.


The American Life League will also be hosting A Celebration of Life World Family Conference July 10-14, also in New Orleans at the same time as the Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Training. The ALL conference also includes activities with Cross Roads and Rock for Life, and the kick-off for a youth pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Toronto.

For information go to


"I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’" Isaiah 49:8-9



Prayer for retreats and for individual retreatants is so important. It takes courage to come to a retreat. There is a lingering fear of condemnation and judgment. Beyond that, for many people the time of their life during which one or more abortions occurred includes extremely painful memories. Many sustained a deep traumatic psychological wound in the abortion. The idea of re-visiting any of this can provoke enormous anxiety.

One of the women who answers the national Rachel’s Vineyard toll-free hotline at 1-877-HOPE-4-ME says that when people call her a month or two before a retreat, she always tells them, "The week before your retreat, you will think of two thousand reasons that you can’t actually go. Be prepared for that and know that many are praying for you and your complete healing." This level of anxiety before the retreat is extremely common and comes from wondering "what good can possibly come of dredging up those horrific memories?"

Rachel’s Vineyard retreat teams ask for individuals to pray (by first name only to protect confidentiality) for each retreatant. Many of these prayer partners write a letter to the person for whom they are praying. This letter will either be sent on (through the retreat team) to the retreatant or given to him or her at the retreat.

If you would like to participate in the vital work of prayer ministry, please go to the section of the Rachel’s Vineyard webpage that lists individual retreats and contact information. ( Simply send an e-mail (or call) any one of the individual retreat team leaders to sign up as a prayer partner or to otherwise participate in prayer ministry.

One retreat participant said, "At our retreat on Saturday afternoon, the retreat team read us a letter from a group of people from a local parish who had arranged to pray throughout the retreat for us. I couldn’t believe it and I was so moved. My shame was very overwhelming and to know that these people who I figured would be the kind to judge and hate me were in actuality praying for my pain and shame to be really made a difference to me."


"We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection." 2 Corinthians 13:8



Johnnette Benkovic is often called "the Catholic Oprah". She is the host of "The Abundant Life," a nationally syndicated television talk show produced through EWTN. Johnnette interviewed Dr. Theresa Burke and Maria Steele, who has gone through the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, on Tuesday, April 9. This television show will most probably air in either the second or third week of May. We will let you know the exact date in the May issue of Vine and Branches. Also, you can check out The Living His Life Abundantly webpage at

Theresa Burke will be interviewed on the nationally syndicated Catholic radio talk show "Kresta in the Afternoon" on Tuesday, April 23 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. If your radio station does not carry this show, you can listen to it live via streaming audio on the Kresta in the Afternoon webpage at

In an article in the March 28 Catholic Herald about a Rachel’s Vineyard that she had attended preparatory to future facilitation of the weekend, Beverly Hartberg wrote, "What I witnessed throughout the weekend was beautiful, mysterious, and awesome, not unlike the response of the apostles to what they envisioned on the mountain. I saw a transformation-of broken, hurting, regretful, and pain-filled lives-to lives open to the possibility of being accepted, forgiven, understood, and loved by the facilitating team, by each other, and by God". See this link for the full article:


‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ " Jeremiah 29:11



Note: Clinical Trainings are an excellent way to equip your community and team with the information and skills to create post-abortion ministry.

Jeanne Bull, Catholic Charities Maine / Birthline / and Project Rachel Coordinator writes: "At the end of Dr. Burke’s day with us in Portland, Maine in January 2002, I could see a path for creating a wide and equipped network for post-abortion healing, whereas before I had no idea how to realistically accomplish that. I also learned that there is a tremendous need for this work and that people will respond-both those who seek healing and those who want to minister but have not known how."

Clinical training April 1, 2002 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania sponsored by the Cross Roads Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Clinical Training April 16, 2002 in Metuchin, New Jersey. Contact Jennifer Ruggiero 732 651 8084

Dr. Burke will speak at the Dinner banquet of A Woman’s Concern Pregnancy Resource Medical Center (717-394-1561) on Friday, April 19 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Clinical Training May 3, 2002 in Newark, New Jersey. Contact Michelle Krystofik at 732-388- 8211.



"Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion" will be released by the publisher on April 19 and ready to ship on May 1.

Here are some comments about "Forbidden Grief" by those who have had a chance to read a pre-publication copy:

"Wonderfully and clearly written, full of stories that grip the attention...Forbidden Grief stands to become a classic on many levels: as a source of self discovery for the millions of women who have had abortions, as a learning experience for all the other lay readers, as a textbook for psychotherapists, and as a source of insight and research design for policy analysts who ponder the effects on society."-Patrick F. Fagan, former Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

"Once in a while a rare book comes along that wrenches every nerve in our bodies and seeks out every crevice of our souls. This is one of those books, and it must be read from cover to cover." - Diane Irving, Ph.D.

"An exceptional book. . .It is essential reading for social workers and other mental health professionals." -Tim Brandyberry, MSSW

"An outstanding book . . .Highly recommended for those who counsel." - Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Department of Psychology, New York University

"Every page of this book is filled with profound insights into the mind and emotions of those who have been wounded by abortion. . . . Every counselor, every member of the clergy, and every citizen concerned about how abortion is harming people needs to read this book." - Fr. Frank Pavone, Director, Priests for Life

To order a copy of Forbidden Grief, please call 1-877-467-3463 or 1-888-41-ACORN.

The hardcover cost is $24.95.


"To know that God works through those the world considers improbable, weak, and unworthy should be a great comfort. Sure, the world’s work may require these external signs of worth, but God’s work-the work of love, forgiveness and healing-doesn’t." Amy Welborn, writing in "Living Faith". (Ms. Welborn maintains a daily web log at



Dr. Theresa Burke opened The Center for Post-abortion Healing in Philadelphia in 1986. She was led to do this because as a graduate student, she had been assigned to work with a group of women who suffered from eating disorders. One night in group, a participant mentioned her abortion because her ex-husband was leaving daily messages on her answering machine calling her a murderer. Others in the group started talking about their abortions, in what quickly became a highly charged and intense environment. It was clear that these women had strong and unresolved feelings about their abortions.

Dr. Burke’s counseling experiences led her to create, with Barbara Cullen, a support group model to assist women in resolving their post-abortion feelings in a compassionate and non-judgmental process. This method addressed the spiritual issues through creative exercises and Living Scriptures - as a unique "therapy for the soul." This was called Rachel’s Vineyard and was offered as a 15-week recovery process through The Center for Post-abortion Healing.

In 1995, Dr. Burke’s personal time constraints as her family grew led her to offer the support group model in a weekend format rather than spread over 15 weeks. She and the other team members of this retreat noticed that the format of the weekend retreat allowed participants to enter much more fully and uninterrupted into the vital grieving process.

A group from Wichita Kansas heard about the retreat and asked Theresa to come and offer it there in 1996. That was the first Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat offered outside of the Philadelphia area. Rachel’s Vineyard became a division of the American Life League in August 1998 and has since spread to over 40 states, parts of Canada, Portugal, Australia, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico and South America.



This prayer was written by someone who attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in March 2002.

"Oh, beautiful Jesus, I never dreamed your love could be so wonderful. Why did I run from it

for so long? Why did I try to hold on to the water

in the brook instead of flowing with it and simply being in its living

water? I asked for a heart of compassion, and you

answered me. You healed my blindness toward others and myself. I know

that I am walking in your light of love, and I pray

that I would follow it wherever it takes me.

Give me the heart of a servant. Use me for your will and glory. Help

me seek humility in all I do-looking at the world

from your eyes and not my own. We are all broken and wounded and are

all in need of healing.

Help me to know your risenness today, in the present, in the here and

now. I don’t want to miss that moment of grace you

have in store for me today.

I pray for the men and women who found your love and forgiveness this

weekend at Rachel’s Vineyard retreats around the

world. Hold them close to you, love them tenderly, and fill them with

your peace.



A NEW RESOURCE: *oaktrees*

A group of people who have previously attended the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat weekend have created a new resource called *oaktrees* (after Isaiah 61).

*oaktrees* is a way for those who have attended the retreat to read and share reflections, prayers, stories and thoughts by email once a month for each of the first twelve months after attending the retreat. If you have attended the retreat and would like to be on the list to receive *oaktrees*, please send an email to Elizabeth Phelps at "".


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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Rachel’s Vineyard is a division of The American Life League

© 2002

Priests for Life
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