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The Monthly e-Newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

October 2003 - Volume 2, Number 10

Welcome to Rachel’s Vineyard

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


Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries holds weekend retreats for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion. Our National Office is supported as a project of American Life League


Publisher: Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

Editor: Leslie Graves

Associate Editor: Catherine McHugh

Comments and questions: Theresa Burke or Leslie Graves


Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

  • Prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake, 1577



1. Rachel’s Vineyard in Ohio
2. "Meeting Jane Marie" wins award.
3. Short news notes
4. Dr. Phil interviews a couple tormented by abortion
5. Training materials and opportunities this fall
6. Retreats scheduled for October and November



Brenda Dama’s voice lilts as she describes how she got involved with the Rachel’s Vineyard team near Youngstown, Ohio.

"A woman who lived near Youngstown attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Pennsylvania in 2000," she said. "When she got back, she was very interested in seeing if there was a way to start the retreat in our area, so she put an announcement in our church bulletin looking for volunteers to help. I was the only one who came to the meeting from our parish. I wanted to help because due to having had an abortion myself I knew that there was a great need for this kind of program."

Br. Vit Fiala, a member of a Franciscan order who was in charge of a shrine near Youngstown, realized that an unused and rundown retreat house near the shrine would be ideal for holding the retreats, if it could be refurbished. The cozy house had a beautiful stone fireplace in the living room, a full kitchen, and plenty of privacy. It was set in lovely landscaping, including an outdoor Stations of the Cross.

Many energetic volunteers, paint cans, and nails later, the retreat house was ready for their first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in early 2001.

Meanwhile, three weeks before that first retreat, Brenda Dama reports that as she was looking over the retreat manual, "I realized that anyone who wants to be on a retreat team whether they are post-abortive or not has to go through the retreat first. I didn’t exactly panic, but as the retreat approached, I got more and more nervous about digging around in that area of my life."

Brenda says, "I don’t know why God chose this particular retreat to pour out so much of His abundant grace on me and others. That retreat was a profound blessing to me and as the years go by, I see more and more the beautiful ways that God has touched and transformed me because of that weekend."

Youngstown, Ohio is near Franciscan University of Steubenville, a well-known Catholic liberal arts college which U.S. News and World Report just recently ranked in the Top 25 of Midwestern Universities. A faculty member from the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s counseling department agreed to come to that first retreat to serve as their therapist. Eight retreats later, she is a vital part of their retreat team.

Men and women have attended the Youngstown retreat from Michigan, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and three different cities in Canada. Their next retreat is scheduled for November 7-9, and they have also scheduled five retreats in 2004.

There is also a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team in Cincinnati, Ohio, which held its first retreat in September 2003. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is sixty miles east of Youngstown; the Rachel’s Vineyard team in Pittsburgh will hold its next retreat the weekend of November 7-9.



by Catherine McHugh

"If I were to speak to any woman thinking about an abortion, I would put my arm around her and tell her about my abrupt alienation from my husband, my alcoholism, my drug addiction, the period during which I hated the church I had earlier loved, the dark life of sin. Then I would urge her to choose life. If I were to speak to any woman who has had an abortion, I would share with her my experience, strength and hope and urge her to call Rachel’s Vineyard."

  • An excerpt from Meeting Jane Marie.

"Meeting Jane Marie," one woman’s story about forgiveness, personal redemption, and meeting the child she lost to abortion, recently won "Best Essay, First Place" in the America’s Press Association Awards for 2003. America’s Press Association commented when the awards were announced, "Winning in a very competitive category, this essay appealed to the judges on numerous levels."

Originally published in the November 4, 2002 issue of "America" magazine, "Meeting Jane Marie" was written by Kathleen Mulhall Haberland after attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. It’s a wonderfully moving essay that describes Katherine’s personal journey of healing in which she is saved by relating to and connecting with her unborn child. Kathleen attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and discovered something that she needed to address, as she writes, a something she hadn’t addressed after 18 years in a recovery program. She discovered that "in all my searching, all my uncovering, all my discovering, all my discarding, I never once gave Jane Marie the credit she deserved as a child of a loving God".

"Meeting Jane Marie" is an excellent essay to give to people who need help understanding the format of the retreat. The essay was reprinted on BeliefNet and can be read online at this link: Meeting Jane Marie ardIDP689  



Mary Kominsky of the Rachel’s Vineyard-Staten Island team spoke before a crowd of 250 at the Legal Center of New Jersey in late September. Mary says, "I spoke about Rachel’s Vineyard and its impact worldwide. I talked about men and families also being affected. I also went into more depth about the actual procedure and how I was emotionally, physically and spiritually affected. When I received a standing ovation, I was stunned. All these people are involved in serious prolife work but they don’t know our story. They only know us as statistics. I told them that I am only one voice for all the others that cannot speak and will never speak about this, even though they have had healing after the weekend and continue the process. After the question-and-answer period, people came up to tell me their stories of a friend, mother, sibling and even themselves. The greatest impact seemed to be on the men. I had a few men that looked me straight in the eye and asked for prayers as the tears came streaming down their faces. ‘It happened so long ago,’ they said. ‘I don’t know what to do.’ I was at a loss for words. I hugged them and agreed to pray for them, that God will lead them. I can still see their faces and realized how deep these wounds are."

Christian therapist Judy Magnussen presented a workshop on post-abortion trauma at the 2003 World Conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors on September 27 in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Judy, "the purpose of the workshop was to help participants understand the long-term spiritual and psychological implications of an abortion decision, identify the two main issues in post-abortion recovery (guilt and grief), and understand the uniqueness of grieving the loss of an aborted child." Judy also shared about her own journey to healing, which included participating in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

Tell Them I Love Them Ministries is hosting "A Day of Hope and Healing" on Saturday, November 22 for men and women to learn more about God’s forgiveness and mercy after abortion. Featured speakers include Norma McCorvey (the former Roe of "Roe v. Wade"), Theresa Burke, and Linda Bartlett of Lutherans for Life. All are welcome to attend. The cost for the day is $45.00.

The first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Ireland is scheduled for October 31-November 2 at a retreat house near Cork City. Cork City is close to Dublin. Dr. Martha Shuping will travel to Ireland to train the new team. Dr. Shuping will also give several public talks about post-abortion trauma during a week-long stay in Ireland.


Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

  • Sir Francis Drake, 1577



By Catherine McHugh

On September 25, nationally syndicated television talk show host Dr. Phil worked with a couple who after two years had not consummated their marriage due to an abortion they chose earlier in their relationship. Michelle felt coerced into choosing between her child and her fiancé. She felt that the decision to terminate her pregnancy was forced upon her by her then new boyfriend, Tripp.

Since the abortion, Tripp, her fiancé and now husband, has suffered from erectile dysfunction. Before the abortion, they didn’t have any intimacy problems. When Tripp came to fully realize the pain and unhappiness he caused Michelle and how he had lost her trust, it led to a fear of failure that kept him from trying to have sex with his wife.

Dr. Phil, self-proclaimed no-nonsense psychologist, quickly linked their intimacy problems to their earlier abortion. Addressing the husband, "Is it any wonder that you felt tremendous guilt and shame over the decision and the pain it caused Michelle?"

Speaking to both of them, Dr. Phil asked, "The two of you got pregnant, the two of you went the route that you did, and don’t both of you have to own that decision?"

To read part of the transcript, go to this link: Dr. Phil interviews Michelle and Tripp

Several times during the show, the abortion was referred to as a bad choice.

It was evident that Michelle and Tripp both deeply regretted their choice. Dr. Phil encouraged them to forgive one another and try to get their marriage back on track, although he did not give them any advice on how to do that. Considering that the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association consider abortion a benign procedure and do not recognize the very negative emotional consequences that often follow after an abortion, Dr. Phil’s show was a milestone in communicating the reality that abortion can cause extreme emotional pain and psychological dysfunction.



To order the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat manual or the new companion volume, "Rachel’s Vineyard: A Guidebook for Gardeners," please click on this link to download and print an order form: Rachel’s Vineyard resources .

On Saturday, October 18 at 1:00 p.m. Theresa Burke is addressing the annual convention of the Catholic Medical Association on the topic of post-abortion healing. This conference is held at the Union League of Philadelphia. It is the Catholic Medical Association’s 72nd annual conference.

Immaculata University in Pennsylvania is holding a seminar on post-abortion syndrome on November 7 taught by Theresa Burke. For details, contact Theresa Burke at (610) 354-0555.

Clinical training on post-abortion trauma and healing with Theresa Burke, Ph.D, for all counselors, priests, pastors, deacons, church pastoral staff and ministers will be hosted by Epiphany Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, November 14, 2003 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Contact Kay Marie Geiger at 804-330-3137.

The Archdiocese of Minneapolis is holding a one-day training on Friday, November 21 for archdiocesan priests and seminarians on post-abortion trauma and recovery, which will be conducted by Theresa Burke and others. Contact Sharon Soderlund



NOTE: You may also call our national toll-free hotline at 1-877-HOPE-4-ME for information about schedules and dates.

The weekend of October 24-26, 2003:

Rapid City, South Dakota
Contact: Carol Kling 605 374 5639

Asheville, North Carolina
Local host: St. Barnabas Respect Life Committee
Contact: Shelley Glanton 828 684 4330
Contact: Paula Bolick 828 684 4330

Denver, Colorado
Contact: Edith Gutierrez 303 682 9185

Oregon, Illinois (near Rockford)
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Catherine Rennert 815 968 1157

Boise, Idaho
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Stefanie Downs 877 HOPE 4 ME

The weekend of October 31-November 2, 2003:

Sydney, Australia
Contact: Julie Kelly 02 9449 7980

Wilmington, Delaware
Contact: Mary Alice 877 HOPE 4 ME

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Contact: Denise Rowinski Mengak 570 822 7118 ext 307

New Orleans, Louisiana
Note: Retreat location is Crown Point, Louisiana
Contact: Melanie Baglow 504 889 2431
Contact: Woman’s New Life Center 504 269 8186

Hays, Kansas
Contact: Donetta Robben 785 623 7531

Miami, Florida
Note: Spanish retreat
Contact: Sr. Maria José 305 653 2966

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Contact: Susan Lepak 405 721 5651 ext 107

Cork City, Ireland
Local host: Holy Trinity Capuchin Friary
Contact: Dr. Rita O’Connor 061 468 570

Mesa, Arizona
Contact: Karen or Mary 480 466 0602

The weekend of November 7-9, 2003:

Omaha, Nebraska
Contact: Heather 402 871 4812

Dallas, Texas
Contact: Barbara Hennes 972 785 CARE or 214 221 3575

Youngstown, Ohio
Contact: Brenda Dama 330 519 8838
Contact: Br. Vit Fiala 330 799 1888

Linden, New Jersey
Contact: Michelle Krystofik 732 388 8211

Camden, New Jersey
Contact: Mary Anne Serra 866 4 RACHEL

Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact: Sue Brazo 269 683 4958 or 269 683 7831

Pecos, New Mexico
Contact: Rachel’s Vineyard 505 757 6600 ext 2550

Tupelo, Mississippi
Contact: Maria Steele 662 255 9636
Contact: Barb Baumann 662 231 1983

Medford, Oregon
Contact: Lori Eckstine 800 249 8074 or 541 521 5186

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contact: Ann Depner 412 456 6955

Palm Beach, Florida
Contact: Donna Gardner 561 746 7954

Sonoma County, California
Contact: Monika 925 798 7054

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Contact: Sr. Therese 505 757 6600 ext 242 or 243
Contact: Cynthia Wynn 806 793 1235

Wichita, Kansas
Contact: Janice 316 269 4673 or 888 456 HOPE

The weekend of November 14-16, 2003:

Gaylord, Michigan
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Beth Bauer 800 727 5147 ext 3533 or 989 705 3517

Madison, Wisconsin
Local host: Office of Family Life / Diocese of Madison
Contact: Leslie Graves 608 218 1264
Contact: Beverly Hartberg 608 821 3177

Providence, Rhode Island
Local host: Life & Family Ministry
Contact: Donna Warner 401 421 7833 ext 115 days / 401 785 9625 evenings

Hammond, Indiana
Local host: Rachel’s Hope, Diocese of Gary
Contact: Carolyn Kenning 219 374 5193

Birmingham, Alabama
Contact: Contact: Susan Wood 205 566 6736 or 205 957 1155

Auburn, Washington
Contact: Valerie Jacobs 800 822 HOPE

Jacksonville / St. Augustine, Florida
Contact: Elizabeth 877 HOPE 4 ME
Contact: Donna 877 HOPE 4 ME

Jackson, Mississippi
Contact: Judy Lindsay 601 624 9969

Rochester, New York
Contact: Sr. Betsy MacKinnon 585 258 3514 or 585 328 0648

Portland, Maine
Contact: Jeanne Bull 207 871 7464

The weekend of November 21-23, 2003:

Clearwater, Florida
Local host: Project Rachel, Diocese of St. Petersburg
Contact: Emma Boe 813 631 4370

Argyle, Texas
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Betsy Kopor 817 923 4757

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Contact: Pat Ryan or Cindy Samson 616 243 0491 ext 520

Kelowna, British Columbia
Contact: Janet Kormish 250 762 2273 or 877 683 CARE


We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

  • Sir Francis Drake, 1577


Comments about Vine & Branches may be directed to the Editor, Leslie Graves


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Rachel’s Vineyard is a project of American Life League
© 2003

Priests for Life
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