The Rachel's Vineyard Training Conference in Leeds, England in August of 2009 was a great success! Deacon Charlie Connor and his brother Fr. Augustine Connor, CFR of the Leeds Diocese shared that the quality of the presentations, the information and inspiration far exceeded their expectations and was exactly what they needed to help organize and expand the Rachel's Vineyard outreach in England.
The Conferences were well attended by religious, with great representation by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and we also met the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, founded in the Diocese of Glasgow, Scotland in 1997 by the late Cardinal Winning. Representatives who serve on Rachel's Vineyard teams traveled from Cork, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Novara, Italy, Scotland, and Amsterdam, Holland and cities throughout England.
The conference opened with words of support from The Right Reverend Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, expressing his endorsement of the work of Rachel's Vineyard and the goals of the conference to educate and equip clergy, professionals and laity to better understand the trauma of abortion and provide effective healing responses.
The first day offered special clergy training with 30 priests from across England and Ireland attending. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, a common response being:
"We had no idea how pervasive this problem is... and how important it is for the Church to be at the forefront of a compassionate and effective response given the numbers of people hurting after abortion." Day two and three was offered for clergy, laity, professionals and those serving on Rachel's Vineyard teams.
Kevin and Theresa presented on abortion trauma, the impact on men, couples, families and the science and spirituality of the Rachel's Vineyard healing programs that have proven so effective in treating this complicated grief. Janet Morana gave presentations on the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and introduced Margaret Cuthill who serves as a Regional Coordinator for Silent No More in the United Kingdom.
Eucharistic adoration was held throughout the conference and daily mass provided the important foundation for all our study and fellowship.
Following the Clinical training, Janet Morana and Theresa Burke traveled to London where they gave a seminar for clergy in the afternoon and a public lecture in the evening. These events were sponsored by the the Good Counsel Network, a London women's centre that provides resources for women facing unplaneed pregnancies.