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July 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 5


The monthly e-newsletter of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries.

Rachel's Vineyard is a division of the American Life League.
© 2002 - Rachel's Vineyard Ministries


Publisher: Rachel's Vineyard Ministries
Editor: Leslie Graves
Previous editions of VINE AND BRANCHES are archived on the web at
Please see directions for subscribing or unsubscribing at the end of this message.


"God didn't pull you from the river to drown you in the sea."

- Donna Partow, "Living in Absolute Freedom"




  1. Report on July 10-14 Rachel's Vineyard International Leadership Training
  2. The Dr. Laura radio show features "Forbidden Grief - The Unspoken Pain of Abortion"
  3. Theresa Burke scheduled to appear in online chats in August
  4. Reclaiming the Gift of our Sexuality: Living Scripture exercises available soon
  5. Ordering the Rachel's Vineyard Retreat Manual - SPANISH Translation
  6. Mary Walsh book review available at Catholic Exchange
  7. Training tapes and materials available
  8. "In the Garden of the New Creation"-a workbook for after the retreat




by Leslie Graves

One hundred and fifty Rachel's Vineyard team members, facilitators and friends from thirty states and six countries braved the sultry heat of New Orleans from July 10-14 in our 3rd annual International Leadership Training Conference.

I don't want to inspire jealousy in the hearts of those who were unable to attend this conference! was a wonderful experience. A huge amount of credit goes to Kevin and Theresa Burke, Katie D'Annunzio, Michelle Krystofik and her team from Newark, as well as the staff of American Life League who coordinated the hotel and conference space needs.

There were many compelling presentations including a keynote by Kevin Burke, MSS/LSW, entitled "The Scandal of Service," which captured the heart and soul of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries; Christopher West, of The Gift Foundation ( presented Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body; and Judie Brown addressed our group after being honored for the tremendous financial support given through American Life League that has helped Rachel's Vineyard continue developing resources for other groups involved in post-abortion ministry. When I met Judie Brown at this conference, she embraced me, and I was able to say something I've wanted to say for a while: "Thank you for caring about my child for all those years when I didn't." I did have to go through a few Kleenexes before I could choke it out. (With God all things are possible.) I know that I am far from alone in my sentiments.

Kevin and Theresa Burke introduced a deeply moving Living Scripture meditation on "Healing the Gift of Sexuality." There were three full days of purely introductory presentations on how to establish a fruitful Rachel's Vineyard local retreat team, running alongside three full days of workshops designed to enhance our clinical understanding. Highlights of the clinical track were provided by Dr. Vincent Rue, who presented on complex PTSD; and other workshops presented by Dr. Catherine Coyle, Terry Lennox, RN, Fr. Tom Goodwin; another three days of workshops were oriented toward understanding aftercare, and to providing the attendees with opportunities for spiritual and personal growth.

The International Leadership Training was held concurrently with the "Celebrate Life" conference, sponsored by American Life League, and VitaFest, sponsored by Rock for Life. Crossroads, a group of youth who walk across America each summer in witness to the sanctity of human life, stopped in New Orleans after journeying from southern Florida, then continued their pilgrimage up to World Youth Day in Toronto.

In a concluding homily, Fr. Bill Sheridan, a Rachel's Vineyard priest from Newark, NJ, spoke of the parable of the seed that falls on either rocky soil, shallow soil, or fertile soil. He asked, "What makes soil fertile?" reminding us of what we add to our gardens to create rich soil: Sometimes the ugly and painful "garbage and manure" experiences of our lives can be the fertilizer for our spiritual growth and conversion.

It's a blessing to work with so many people who understand on such a deep level the transformative power of God's grace.


"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes."

 - William Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"




Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who wrote the foreword to "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion," by Theresa Burke, Ph.D., with David C. Reardon, Ph.D., featured the book on her nationally syndicated radio show on July 15. She spoke of the ongoing emotional issues that may haunt post-abortive individuals, and urged her listeners to seek healing to prevent ongoing issues such as relationship problems and potential difficulties in bonding with subsequent children.

Dr. Laura had arranged with the publisher that free copies of the book would be given away to the first twenty-five people to contact the publisher. Over 250 people responded within fifteen minutes, often including comments such as, "Does God reallyforgive those women who have had abortions? You can guess why I am asking," and, "My oldest sister had an abortion 6 years ago and til this day she and her husband regret it with all their heart."

Dr. Laura is also featuring information about the book on her website the week of July 15-19, at <A HREF="">Dr. Laura</A>, with a link through to ordering information on


"I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you."

- Isaiah 46:4




Theresa has been invited to discuss healing after abortion in two online chats in August.

On August 8, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (Eastern time), she will be a guest on the Christian Women Today channel. This chat is open to the general public. Anyone is welcome to participate or observe. To find the chat, you would go to <A HREF="">Christian Women Today

Magazine - chat, devotionals, relationships and more</A> and click through to the chat area.

On Tuesday, August 13, starting at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Theresa will be a guest in the chat room hosted by a web page called "Post Abortion Stress Syndrome" at <A HREF="">Post Abortion Healing Help, and Post Abortion Stress Syndrome Support</A>. In order to participate in this chat, you must be post-abortive and you must register with the site (it is free and confidential). This website describes its mission as follows:

"So with all these women undergoing this common medical procedure, why isn't there more support for women after an abortion, to discuss their experience? Why so few support groups to talk about your physical and emotional issues afterwards? The fear of political or religious backlash, and the fear of negative reactions from friends or family keeps most women silent about anything they feel after their abortion..."




A beautiful Living Scripture meditation has been created by Kevin and Theresa Burke to help couples whose sexuality has been impacted by abortion and/or a history of sexual abuse. Additional homework exercises for marrid couples are suggested based ongentle systemic desensitization with communication and other practical guidelines for married couples who wish to overcome aversive, negative, and damaging attitudes and physical sensations as well as understanding traumatic triggers related to sexual relations.

The Living Scripture is very appropriate for anyone with a history of sexual abuse or who for whatever reason experiences shame, emptiness, numbness or disconnection around their sexuality, regardless of whether they are post-abortive. The Living Scripture can be used by couples, or in small faith-sharing groups, bible study groups, or at Rachel's Vineyard reunions or get-togethers. These exercises and many others will be available in "From Grief to Grace," a compilation of new aftercare meeting designs and Living Scriptures, which will soon be available for Rachel's Vineyard Ministries.

Additionally, those in the Midwest who have struggled with shame over their sexuality, who do not feel connected to holiness in this part of their life, or who simply want to learn more about Pope John Paul II's theology of the body are encouraged to attend a presentation, "Naked Without Shame," on August 23-24 in Chicago by Christopher West of The Gift Foundation. See this link for additional information: The GIFT Foundation ® - More Information


"May the wine go straight to my lover,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.
I belong to my lover,
and his desire is for me.
Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside.
Let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom-
there I will give you my love.
The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my lover."

- Song of Songs 7: 9-13.




Thanks to the professional efforts of Josephina and Tony Guerra, the Rachel's Vineyard Spanish Manual is now complete. We would also like to thank Lisa Cannon for her contribution to this endeavor, and certainly, we are indebted to American Life League for their financial support of this project.

The Spanish Manuals are $20.00 plus shipping and handling.

Orders for the Rachel's Vineyard Spanish Manual can be sent directly to Kevin Burke at or contact him at 610 354-0555.




A review written by Mary Walsh of "Forbidden Grief" is available online at the Catholic Exchange website (click here for the link: Book Review: Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion)




Each of the presentations at the 3rd annual Rachel's Vineyard International Leadership Conference was professionally audio taped. Audio tapes of each of the presentations are available for sale, and are a rich source of introductory, clinical, and aftercare information. For a list of the tapes, along with pricing and ordering information, go to and follow the links.

Complete course descriptions are also available on the Rachel's Vineyard web site at




by Martha Shuping, MD

"In the Garden of the New Creation: A Rebirth of the Self in the Spirit," by Debbie Woodhams, MA, LPC, is a self-esteem book for women that was written by a therapist who facilitates Rachel's Vineyard retreats. The book deals with self-esteem and shame issues that may have been present even before the pregnancy loss issues. The book will be helpful to women who are post-abortive or to any women with issues related to shame or self-esteem.

Here's what Debbie says about her book on the order form:

"The Scriptures promise us peace and joy as new creations in Christ. However, our feelings don't always reflect that truth. Growing into our new identities is a process of growth and struggle. 'In the Garden of the New Creation' is a self-help manual designed to explore the psychological and spiritual aspects of self-esteem and emotional growth.

"Self-esteem is an important issue in dealing with unplanned pregnancies and post-abortion healing. The myth that most women have abortions out of self-centered 'convenience' has been exposed through programs like Rachel's Vineyard and Project Rachel. Too often women who have abortions are thinking of everyone but themselves. Maternal needs are suppressed in the face of overwhelming pressure from boyfriends, family members and society. It takes a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem to sayno to those pressures and to demand respect from others. Shame and fear often impede our growth and our decision-making in times of crisis."

"In the Garden of the New Creation" takes a look at what's really going on in our lives as we struggle to claim the new identities that we have been promised. Designed to be used over a 12-month period, it can be utilized individually or in groups. It is available in a notebook format, convenient for journaling.

The book is published by Tablor Garden Press and regular price is $25.00.

**A $5.00 discount is available to readers of VINE AND BRANCHES if you place your order prior to August 15.** Shipping is additional. For more information or to place an order, go to You can also contact Debbie Woodhams if you have questions at:


"I pray that you, being rooted in and established in love, may have power, 
together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is
the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you
may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

- Ephesians 3:17-19


Questions or comments about VINE AND BRANCHES, The Rachel's Vineyard e-Newsletter, may be directed to the editor, Leslie Graves, at


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Rachel's Vineyard is a division of American Life League


Priests for Life
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