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Rachel’s Vineyard brings post-abortion healing to a wounded world

South Africa is the newest country to offer a weekend retreat


Priests for Life


Since the first Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat was held in 1995, the ministry of post-abortion healing has grown from a single retreat to offering more than 375 sites in 49 states and more than 70 countries. Retreats are offered in 37 languages, and the retreat manual has been translated into 22 languages.
This year, the Year of Mercy, Rachel’s Vineyard’s global expansion continued with its first-ever retreat in South Africa.
On a recent weekend, eight people from different parts of South Africa came together at the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary retreat house in Cape Town. Among them was a man who had not had the Sacraments for 18 years. 
“He could barely speak on Friday evening, but on Sunday morning was transformed,” said Bernadette Goulding, a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat leader in Ireland who organized the Cape Town weekend.  “Each participant was healed and filled with joy on leaving us.”
A woman who missed her flight was so determined to get there that she finally arrived late Friday night.
“She had missed all of the Friday evening rituals so I had  to take it to the Lord in prayer as to how I should proceed,” Bernadette said. “I talked with her and briefly shared with her all that she had missed. To facilitate means to make easy, so I had to make things easy for this woman.”
“We are the instruments that God uses to bring His broken children to Him,” Bernadette continued. “I often think that on the retreats, Jesus is so present that I can almost feel His presence physically. What a mighty God we serve. This lovely lady got such healing that it is nothing short of miraculous.”
In a letter to Bernadette after the retreat, the woman wrote: “God made a way to rescue me. You  are God’s tool. Keep on reaching out to those crying souls. Thank God for Rachel’s Vineyard.”
Dr. Theresa Karminski Burke, who founded Rachel’s Vineyard with her husband, Kevin Burke, commented: “Recognizing how our organization has grown exponentially in such a short amount of time, we are inspired by the opportunities ahead. We've been privileged to witness profound transformation taking place in the lives of so many people throughout the world.  
“What began as a small husband-and-wife effort to help those who had suffered the loss of a child from abortion to heal in body, mind and spirit has evolved into an international apostolate that is now positioned to pave the way for new psychological and spiritually integrated approaches for treating other forms of traumatic experience.  
Father Frank Pavone,  who became pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard in 2002 when the ministry became part of Priests for Life/Gospel of Life Ministries, said: “The first time I greeted Pope Francis, and told him of my leadership role with Rachel's Vineyard, the Holy Father said to me, ‘Rachel’s Vineyard is very good. It is an excellent work! Go forward with that!’ In this Year of Mercy, and with the pope’s personal encouragement, I am confident that Rachel’s Vineyard will continue to spread healing to women and men all over the world who have lost children to abortion.”
Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit
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