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The Monthly e-Newsletter of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries

September 2003 - Volume 2, Number 9

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


"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

  • Matthew 11:28-29



1. Rachel’s Vineyard in Australia
2. "A Guidebook for Gardeners" now available
3. Documentary about post-abortion recovery debuts in Minneapolis
4. Training opportunities this fall
5. Short news notes
6. Retreats scheduled for September and October



Julie Kelly flew from Sydney, Australia to Seattle, Washington in February 2000 to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, 44 years after her abortion.

When Kelly returned to Sydney, she approached the bishops of the three dioceses in Sydney and told them of the great need of women who are suffering post-abortion trauma. The bishops were very supportive, and the first retreat in Australia was held in Sydney in December 2000.

There are now six other dioceses around Australia in various stages of introducing Rachel’s Vineyard, as well as two in New Zealand. There has already been a retreat in Melbourne and one will be held soon in Adelaide.

The most enjoyable aspect of Kelly’s ministry, she says, "is seeing the blossoming of post-abortion counseling that’s happening in a number of centers. I also really love presenting on the subject and have the chance to do that in lots of different arenas. This week I was guest speaker at my old alma mater where I started my counseling training 18 years ago. It felt great."

Kelly and the clergy who work on the Australian retreats are in the planning stages of a national conference on post-abortion healing and reconciliation for priests, counselors, and pastoral associates that will be held in February 2004.

With the permission of those involved, Kelly has shared with "Vine and Branches" an exchange of letters that resulted from a recent Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Australia.

Dear Ron,

You do not know me, but you have touched my life tremendously by your kindness and generosity. My name is Linda. I am 26 years old and I have spent the past seven years torturing myself after making the painful decision to have an abortion when I was only 19 years old.

I know that some women who have made such a choice apparently suffer no ill-effects—whether these effects be physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual. It was, however, very different for me.

Following my abortion, I fell into an awful spiral of self-destruction. I became severely depressed to the point of wanting to take my own life. I still wonder now how I managed to stay alive. I lost all joy in living and I began to punish myself in various ways - from taking drugs to becoming dangerously anorexic and then bulimic. I became a workaholic, trying in my job to heal others but finally even felt that I could no longer do that.

All of these things I suffered in silence and no one knew my pain. No one. My parents were horrified when years later I revealed to them what I had gone through. Many special friends still cannot understand why I did not turn to them for support. I have always buried my own needs in order to look after others.

A few months ago, I finally felt as though I was getting my life back together when ... WHAM ... I found myself curled up in bed, feeling the same pangs of torturous pain that I had suffered seven years ago. I spent an entire night alone, crying softly and wanting to end my own life. It was as though the past had come back, saying loudly, "Deal with me now! You must share your pain in order to heal. You can no longer carry this burden on your own."

I spent the next morning sobbing with my mother, telling her how close I was to ending my life. She mentioned Rachel’s Vineyard. I phoned and met with Julie Kelly that afternoon, with no idea how much that visit was going to change my life.

Ron, I have carried the huge burden of having had an abortion for seven years. It has nearly killed me. And suddenly, there I was with this gentle woman who had suffered a similar experience and who was helping others recover from the pain. She was like a life-line in the midst of a dark storm. I remember thinking to myself, "I don’t know what I can do to take away this pain. I don’t know how to make it stop." And then Julie mentioned Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. To my astonishment she said that the next retreat was in three days time and there was one space left! It was like a gift from heaven, as though God himself had reached down and said, "Here is your salvation. Here is how you will heal this pain."

I did not have any money to pay for such a retreat but Julie assured me that there would be a way for the expenses to be covered. Ron, your donation arrived the day the retreat began. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your generous gift has changed and touched my life. There I was, on the verge of an emotional collapse, when along came a series of guardian angels to lift me up. You are one of these angels.

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat was one of the most special gifts of my life. The work that Julie is doing is phenomenally powerful and touching to the spirit. And you, Ron, are a similar gift in my life. You may have thought your gift to be a simple donation of money, but believe me, it was much more than that. Your kindness, in many ways, helped to save my life.

Although I know your gift was given with no intention of being repaid, I also know that life works in some amazingly mysterious ways, so it is my hope that your gift will be repaid to you in some precious way when the time comes for you to receive.

With love and deep gratitude,

And here is the reply she received:

Dear Linda,

I was so deeply touched by your letter. I wish I could write the correct words to express my feelings. Maybe if you were sitting alongside me on a plane going to, say, Perth, I could find the right words.

I want to thank you for your letter, but I also want to tell you that you were wrong when you said you could no longer "heal others" (I take "heal" to mean "help"). Your letter has helped me more than you could imagine. My wife and I wept as we read your words. I would love to be able to explain better but you will just have to take my word for it.

God bless you, Linda, and Rachel’s Vineyard, too.




"Rachel’s Vineyard: A Guidebook for Gardeners" is an eight-chapter manual designed to help local groups as they go through the steps of starting a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in their area.

"A Guidebook for Gardeners" was written by Leslie Graves with the help of dozens of experienced retreat team facilitators and coordinators.

Comments from readers include "I wish I had had this when we started…it would have saved me a lot of time," and "Wonderful! I already feel like I know exactly what I need to do next."

"A Guidebook for Gardeners" is divided in two volumes. Volume One includes the first five chapters. These chapters cover all the practical tasks involved with starting the retreat, such as finding a retreat facility, choosing and training retreat team members, budgeting the retreat, getting the word out, coordination tasks, and much more. Volume Two is about facilitating the retreat itself.

Volume One is available for shipping now. Volume Two will be available in October.

According to Graves, "Our goal was to provide a simple, practical and complete description of everything a team needs to know as they work toward offering their first several retreats. ‘A Guidebook for Gardeners’ might best be viewed as a supplement to the Rachel’s Vineyard Manual. The Rachel’s Vineyard Manual is indispensable while ‘A Guidebook for Gardeners’ might make your job a little easier."

She also noted that "the guiding assumption in each chapter is that a team is starting out entirely from scratch. At the same time, discussions and ideas about aspects of the retreat are included that may be helpful even to those who already have a lot of experience with post-abortion ministry and the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat."

The cost of the complete 200-page "Rachel’s Vineyard: A Guidebook for Gardeners" is $30.00, which includes shipping. Ordered separately, each volume is $20.00. Teams are welcome to order either Volume One or the entire Guidebook now. If they order the entire set, they will receive Volume Two in mid-October.

To order a copy of "Rachel’s Vineyard: A Guidebook for Gardeners," please send a letter with your name and address, and a check made out to "Rachel’s Vineyard", to Katie D’Annunzio, Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, P.O. Box 195, Bridgeport, PA 19405.

If you would like to simultaneously order the main Rachel’s Vineyard manual, please indicate that and enclose an additional $25.00.

For additional information via email about "A Guidebook for Gardeners" or "The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Manual," please send an email to Kevin Burke <> .


"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

  • Luke 6:37-38



On August 1, Cheryl Riley, Mary Kominsky and Theresa Burke sat down in a television studio in Minneapolis and talked intimately for several hours about post-abortion trauma and healing, both from a personal perspective (Cheryl and Mary) and from the perspective of many years of clinical experience and retreat work (Theresa).

"Suffering in Silence," a powerful 60-minute documentary, was created from this interview, along with additional footage of other couples and individuals affected by abortion. Copies of the tape will soon be available for local groups across the country, and it has already aired several times on MCN Channel 6 in the Twin Cities area.

According to Sharon Soderlund, the Respect Life coordinator for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis, "Each person who was interviewed did a fantastic job, and the camera work, sound, editing, etc., were tight. What a huge difference ‘Suffering in Silence’ will make in reaching all the women who have suffered so long in isolation, feeling hopeless and unforgiven."

"Suffering in Silence" would not have been possible without two key people. Jeanne Krieg, a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, is a television producer. Jeanne served as the executive producer, pulling together all the many different talented people needed to create a production of this caliber. Kalley Yanta is the on-air anchor and host of "Suffering in Silence." Kalley is well-known in the Twin Cities area as their former ABC network affiliate news anchor. In addition to her work on the screen, Kalley played a vital role in pulling together people and footage for the project.

Details about how to obtain a copy of "Suffering in Silence" will be available in the October 2003 edition of "Vine and Branches."



A two-day Rachel’s Vineyard Introductory and Clinical Training with Kevin and Theresa Burke will be held in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area on October 15-16. CEU credits are available. Catholic Charities of Western Washington and the Archdiocese of Portland Oregon are sponsoring the event. For information, please contact Valerie Jacobs, MA at 800-822-4673 or Paula Lang, LCSW at 503-238-5196, ext. 226.

A one-day clinical training will be held on October 9, 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta. Contact John McDonald at 780-469-2323 for more information. CEU credits available A one-day clinical training will be held on October 10, 2003 in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Contact Julie Kohler at 403-218-5506 or 800-566-6150. CEU credits available.

A Clinical Training on Post-Abortion Trauma and Healing with Theresa Burke, Ph.D, for all counselors, priests, pastors, deacons, church pastoral staff and ministers, hosted by Epiphany Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday, November 14 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 .



On October 2, a post-abortion conference for lay, clergy and mental health professionals, "Recovery of the Heart: Healing the Hidden Pain of Abortion" will be held at the Swan Club, Shore Road, Glenwood, NY 11547. Workshops include: Men and Abortion, Eating Disorders, Clergy Workshop and "What’s Out There: An overview of ministries in the greater New York area." The conference will run from 9 am to 4:30 pm. A banquet dinner with a keynote and entertainment will follow. Cost for both events including continental breakfast, lunch and dinner is $125. For the conference only $60, banquet only $65. The conference is sponsored by Lumina .

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 September 2003 edition of Touchstone magazine includes an article The Nightmares of Choice , by Rachel McNair, about the psychological impact of abortion on abortion providers.



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

September 12-14, 2003-Fairfield County, Connecticut
Contact: Clarissa Cincotta 203 372 4301 ext 314

September 12-14, 2003-Montello, Wisconsin
Local host: Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Cheryl Ryan 608 754 0309

September 12-14, 2003-Portland, Oregon
Contact: Lori Eckstine 800 249 8074 or 541 521 5186

September 12-14, 2003-Miami, Florida
Note: Spanish retreat
Contact: Sr. Maria José 305 653 2966

September 19-21, 2003-Youngstown, Ohio
Contact: Brenda Dama 330 797 8951
Contact: Br. Vit Fiala 330 799 1888

September 19-21, 2003-Richmond, Virginia
Contact: Kay Marie Geiger 804 330 3137

September 19-21, 2003-Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Contact: Susan Lepak 405 721 5651 ext 107

September 19-21, 2003-Linden, New Jersey
Contact: Michelle Krystofik 732 388 8211

September 26-28, 2003-Fort Wayne, Indiana
Contact: Sue Brazo 616 683 4958 or 616 683 7831

September 26-28, 2003-Gaylord, Michigan
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Beth Bauer 800 727 5147 ext 3533 or 989 705 3517

September 26-28, 2003-Jackson, Mississippi
Contact: Judy Lindsay
Contact: Kim Hardeman 601 624 0015

October 3-5, 2003-Monroe, Connecticut
Local host: Archdiocese of Hartford Project Rachel
Contact: Mary Hayden 203 882 1326

October 3-5, 2003-Los Angeles, California
Contact: Christine Lowe 866 2 RACHEL

October 3-5, 2003-Portland, Maine
Contact: Jeanne Bull 207 871 7464

October 3-5, 2003-Casper, Wyoming
Local host: Diocese of Cheyene
Contact: Sharie Cundall 307 322 4742

October 10-12, 2003-Romeoville, Illinois
Local host: Joliet Diocesan Life Office
Contact: Kay Corcoran 815 838 7171

October 10-12, 2003-Knoxville, Tennessee
Contact: Catherine McHugh 865 694 4971

October 10-12, 2003-Falls Church, Virginia
Contact: Myriam Perez 703 729 7998

October 17-19, 2003-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Immaculata)
Contact: Mary Alice 877 HOPE 4 ME

October 17-19, 2003-Washington, D.C.
Contact: Project Rachel DC 202 269 HOPE

October 24-26, 2003-Rapid City, South Dakota
Contact: Carol Kling 605 374 5639

October 24-26, 2003-Asheville, North Carolina
Local host: St. Banabas Respect Life Committee
Contact: Shelley Glanton 828 684 4330
Contact: Paula Bolick 828 684 4330

October 24-26, 2003-Denver, Colorado
Contact: Edith Gutierrez 303 682 9185

October 24-26, 2003-Oregon, Illinois
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Catherine Rennert 815 968 1157

October 24-26, 2003-Boise, Idaho
Note: Interdenominational retreat
Contact: Stefanie Downs 877 HOPE 4 ME

October 31-November 2, 2003-Sydney, Australia
Contact: Julie Kelly 02 9440 7980

October 31-November 2, 2003-Wilmington, Delaware
Contact: Mary Jo 302 655 9624 ext 219

October 31-November 2, 2003-Scranton, Pennsylvania
Contact: Denise Rowinski Mengak 570 822 7118 ext 307

October 31-November 2, 2003-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

October 31-November 2, 2003-Hays, Kansas
Contact: Donetta Robben 785 623 75


"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul."

  • Psalm 138:3


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


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