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May 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 3


The Monthly E-Newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard

Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries:


Publisher: Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

Editor: Leslie Graves

Information or comments: or


" will grieve, but your grief will become joy." John 16:20



1. Quick note about upcoming national radio appearance May 17

2. How do Rachel’s Vineyard retreat teams get started?

3. A Pebble in the Pond/Guests at the Memorial Service

4. Publisher’s special offer on "Forbidden Grief"

5. Maria Steele writes about "The Abundant Life" airs week of May 27

6. Conference Update

7. Brochures available

8. Tract on Post Abortion Healing


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.



David Reardon and Theresa Burke will be discussing their new book, "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion" as guests on the "Janet Parshall’s America" nationally syndicated radio talk show on Friday, May 17, starting at 3:15 Eastern Standard Time. Janet Parshall is regularly honored by appearing on Talker’s Magazine list of The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Shows Hosts in America. To locate a station in your area that carries Janet Parshall’s America, go to and clickon "affiliates". You can also listen to the show via a live webcast through that webpage.



by Leslie Graves

As I wrote in the last issue of VINE AND BRANCHES, the first Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat for healing after abortion was held in 1995. In 2001, one hundred and five of the retreats were held, from Alaska to Florida (and in four other countries), with many others utilizing the Rachel’s Vineyard 15-week support group model. There are currently retreat teams in forty-two states.

Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries is often asked, "How would I (or a group I’m involved with) go about offering the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in our area?"

As Rachel’s Vineyard retreat teams have developed over the last seven years, we now have a wealth of experience to help you plant and nurture a beautiful, effective and fruitful Vineyard. By contacting the national office at 610-354-0555, or sending an email to Theresa Burke at, you’ll be planting the first seed for helping to grow this ministry in your area.

However, people are often interested to know how others started the process in their area, and how they got trained. Groups that sponsor Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats include:

  • Crisis Pregnancy, or Pregnancy Resource, Centers. Several large CPCs offer Rachel’s Vineyard as a wonderful resource for healing after abortion. CPCs have learned through long experience that many women in crisis pregnancies are already post-abortive, and are carrying deep wounds from the earlier abortion. Untreated traumatic experiences from earlier abortions can have a profound and damaging impact on future pregnancies, in many cases leading to repeat abortions. (In next month’s issue ofVINE AND BRANCHES, you’ll be able to read an inspirational interview with a CPC group that offers Rachel’s Vineyard.)
  • Project Rachel and Respect Life offices. Project Rachel is the name for the post-abortion outreach of the Catholic church. A number of dioceses include a Project Rachel office as part of their ministry offerings. The national website for Project Rachel can be located at . Some dioceses have a separate Respect Life ministry, which usually have a wide variety of responsibilities.
  • Church based Ministries are also offering the Rachel’s Vineyard programs. The benefits of church based ministries is that it offers a very personal outreach with a large base of support from interested volunteers and other groups that help with food and other necessary materials. Rachel’s Vineyard has recently published an interdenominational Retreat manual available for other church communities who wish to offer this healing process.
  • Offices of Family Ministry (these offices are highly experienced at offering ministry through retreat programs such as Marriage Encounter), larger parishes, and even some long-established Prayer Circles are all groups that sponsor Rachel’s Vineyard retreats.
  • And, another way that retreat groups have formed is by older groups growing to such an extent, with many volunteers, and much word of mouth from previous retreatants, so that a new team will "shoot off" from the original group, much like a vine sends runners through fertile soil.

How do groups receive appropriate training in offering the retreat? Training opportunities will be explored in VINE AND BRANCHES on an ongoing basis.

A particularly appealing and convenient way to develop a solid foundation of skills and knowledge for offering the retreat that is available this summer is to attend, or send a small group to, the four-day National Leadership Training in New Orleans July 10-14. Full information is available at


"Knowing sorrow well, I learn to help the distressed."-Virgil



(The following thoughts were shared by a participant on the Rachel’s Vineyard leadership e-group in a discussion of the Memorial Service that occurs on Sundays during the retreat.)

"I will relate how this has affected me personally- -on my retreat, I asked my mother and brother to come to the Memorial Service. My Mom was the grandmother of eight aborted grandchildren through three children and my brother had been involved in three relationships that ended with abortions.

That day was horrifying for me - the thought of all of this coming out - so to speak - I remember when someone told me my mother had arrived - I thought I was going to hyper ventilate - there was so much pain and anger-we talked a little before the memorial service - and a lot afterwards!

During the memorial service one of the husbands who came for his wife, who was not the father of this aborted child, got up and went to the podium with her. He embraced this child and spiritually adopted it in front of this room full of strangers and the greatest display of love I have ever seen between a husband and wife.

Back to my family - as a result - conversation was really opened up and six months later my sister and her husband went on a RV retreat. The family healing was spreading,... six months after that - I went again in support of my Mom - the ripplegets bigger. At each weekend outsiders came and the result was always incredible.

My family continues to heal and this past Divine Mercy Sunday, my 81 year old grandmother moved in with my family and now helps me do a lot of the behind the scenes work for our next retreat here in the Harrisburg, PA diocese. My sister and her husband who I was estranged with for many years, now live 15 miles away instead of 240 miles and is an active part of the RV ministry here. Both of them help each retreat weekend.

So much of the success of this weekend is because we have to be humble and let GOD do his thing! "



Acorn Books is offering FREE SHIPPING on any book orders received by MAY 15. If you order your copy of "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion" by Theresa Burke, PhD with David Reardon, PhD directly from Acorn Books by May 15, the publisher will waive the shipping fee. "Forbidden Grief" is available in hardcover at $24.95 per copy.

Contact the publisher toll-free at 1-888-41-ACORN.

Acorn Books has also created a webpage where you can read the Introduction to Forbidden Grief online. Click here


"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."-Psalm 126:5-6



by Maria Steele

(Maria is a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard Ministry team in Mississippi. See note at end of article for information about when the show will air.)

Theresa Burke along with some of her other Mississippi friends and I recently traveled to Birmingham, Alabama for a taped broadcast at EWTN’s Birmingham studios. EWTN is a national Catholic television network. The interview was done by Johnette Benkovic, the founder and host of the EWTN talk show "The Abundant Life."

The taping was done in three segments, which included Theresa Burke, Dr. David Reardon of the Elliott Institute (via satellite) and ... me, Maria Steele from Tupelo, MS. I was there to talk about my experiences as a post-abortive woman who has been on a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.

Before saying any more, let’s begin with Theresa’s flight to Birmingham. Some of you may know that Theresa does not particularly enjoy flying. She loves the outdoors, such as skiing and biking, as long as she does not go airborne on the slopes. We failed to tell Theresa that the southern skies can be quite treacherous, especially through the hills of Alabama. That’s why we folks from Mississippi traveled by vehicle. The winds blew ferociously as Theresa’s plane attempted to land. At dinner, Theresa led us through a traumatic re-enactment of the plane rocking from side to side during its landing approach. Theresa said that it was the closest she has ever felt to dying.

On her safe arrival, we greeted her with a Mississippi "happy". For those of you that may not be aware of what a "happy" is; well, to say it more plainly, and with not near as much emotion, it is simply a gift. She loved her "ceramic" cross. We felt it necessary to catch her up to speed on the most current slang from the South, i.e., nabs, and fixin’ to, to name a few. That way she would always know what others were really talking about. We were all able to stay together in a quaint guest house called the Madonna house behind the EWTN production studios.

Besides me, the team from Tupelo included Barb Baumann and Emily Holman. We all enjoyed a wonderful dinner together at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. In the morning, we all ate breakfast at the television station’s dining room. We had a lovely buffet, complete with grits. The EWTN staff was very hospitable. (That’s because they’re from the South.) During our breakfast, Emily Holman serenaded us with beautiful melodies which she had created herself. We had a little old man sitting next to us that kept asking for an encore. We sang Amazing Grace among other tunes, but were forced to cut him off when he asked her to sing an Elvis song after he found out we were from Tupelo, the home of Elvis. Her music definitely kept our minds off the impending camera lights!

Theresa and I comforted each other, neither of us having ever been on television and really having no idea of what to expect. Not to mention, I had a little more than a small case of laryngitis, with no signs of getting any better. The interview began with Theresa. She was a hit! She spoke with such poise and grace. Dr. Reardon was next. He did a wonderful job in presenting various facts about abortion and trauma. And then I followed, telling my story to the whole viewing audience. Myvoice, threatened with laryngitis, withstood the interview. The show is going to be incredible!!!!!!

Johnette wishes to bring Theresa back to the show in the future to talk more about Rachel’s Vineyard. She was absolutely thrilled about the interview. Unfortunately, Emily was not able to sing her song, "Sometimes I Wonder" . Hopefully, she will be able to share this in the future, or who knows, maybe on Oprah!!

On a more serious note, the whole experience was anointed by the Holy Spirit. We were able to do the interview in one taping, which we were told is extremely rare in TV land.


The "The Abundant Life" segment described above, featuring Theresa Burke, Maria Steele of the Mississippi RVR team, and Dr. David Reardon will air the week of May 27.

It is an hour-long show and it will air four times on EWTN (times listed are in Eastern Standard Time)

Monday, May 27 at 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 28 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 30 at 10:00 a.m.

Friday, May 31 at 5:00 p.m.

Have your friends and ministry partners over for coffee and enjoy watching the show together!


Special quote selected for Maria and Theresa:

"I hate myself on the screen. I want to die ... my voice is either too high or too gravelly. I want to dive under the carpet ... I’d love to be tall and willowy...I’m short." Elizabeth Taylor



Reminder: We’re only 8 weeks away from the Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference July 10-14!

We have arranged a special room rate for the conference of $125 per night (for up to 4 people in the room) at the Hyatt in New Orleans.

The "cut off date" for this rate is June 6, 2002. Any reservations made after June 6 are not guaranteed to get the special rate. Please guarantee your reservation with a major credit card. Quoting from the Hyatt contract "any reservations not guaranteed will not be held beyond 72 hours prior to arrival."

The Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference is being sponsored by the American Life League - so please register with American Life League when you reserve your rooms.

More information can be obtained on our website or e-mail Theresa at for a complete list of courses and faculty.



Please contact Kevin Burke at if you’d like to help circulate Rachel’s Vineyard brochures. The brochures are free and can be placed anywhere in your community to let others know about our weekend retreats for healing after abortion.



One resource that you may find helpful is a simple pamphlet, written by a person who has effectively dealt with her past, and found victory in her relationship with Jesus Christ. Written by Sydna Masse, Founder of Ramah International Ministry, this pamphlet relates to the pain caused by abortion and shares important steps that must be taken for healing. Sydna discusses the common problem of holding in the pain and guilt, and the lingering, recurrent memory of the tragic event. Sydna also shows that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and fellowship with understanding people who minister to post-abortion individuals are both necessary for true healing and self-forgiveness.

To view the full content of this resource online simply go to or contact The American Tract Society at 1-800-548-7228.


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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