The Restoration of Fathers in Abortion Recovery

May 22nd, 2017

Prison Ministry

Kevin Burke, LSW

In 2014 I spent some time with the ministry staff of an abortion recovery program behind the prison walls of Martin Correctional Institution (MCI) in Florida.

Their ministry to men featured a modified version of the Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend and also some exercises from Healing a Father’s Heart bible study.  I had a chance to meet with a number of men who have been through the program and are now team leaders ministering to their fellow prisoners.

The inmates I interviewed (many of them lifers for serious crimes) taught me how their abortion story fit into the wider journey of their tumultuous lives.  I learned of the central role that father absence and father abuse and rejection played in the development of narcissistic personality traits, and a descent into criminal activity and abortion.

Their abortion loss played an important role in accelerating their self destructive impulsivity that evolved into criminal activity and violence.

This experience continues to resonate with me as I encounter men beyond the prison walls of MCI.  While most men do not turn to criminal activity after their abortions, father wounds and abortion have a similar power to deeply disfigure men and corrupt the vocations of marriage and fatherhood.  This buried grief, shame and pain can be expressed in anger, impulsive behaviors, sexual immorality, exploitation and abuse of partners…and even criminal activity.

The healing journey of abortion loss for men with father wounds, past abuse, or divorce, opens the door to healing their sense of being “emotionally aborted” in their own childhood.  Repentance, and an encounter with their Heavenly Father and His unconditional love for his sons, is a powerful and essential first step.  As these men learn to grieve their abortion loss in a healthy way, they are freed as fathers to reconnect in love with their children, both living and deceased.

But this also provides an opportunity for them to encounter the pain of their childhood, and begin the process of healthy grieving and recovery from those wounds.

This month of June, many of us will honor those Fathers that have blessed our lives.

For other men, this may be a time to turn in humility and trust to their Heavenly Father who is calling them to open up some of the darker corners of their lives to the light of Christ.  Keep in mind, men without childhood loss or trauma are also deeply wounded by the participation in the death of their unborn children.

Facing this takes humility and courage.

But as men who have made that journey will testify, attending an abortion recovery program will bring abundant blessing to your life and to your loved ones.

Happy Father’s Day

 

 

The Road to Emmaus – My Journey from the Abortion Clinic to the Eucharist

May 22nd, 2017

Jesus with Woman

By Sarah J

My journey began many years ago when I walked out of the abortion clinic. I had just aborted my daughter.

There were protesters out in front of the abortion center, so we were escorted out the back door. My ride had driven her car around back to come and meet me. As I began my journey to the car, I passed the large dumpster where the clinic tossed the remnants of my baby.

This is where my walk to Emmaus begins.

I went home that day and tried to be normal, processing the many feelings of relief and guilt. I am not sure why both of those feeling felt so appropriate. As the day wore on the guilt over powered the relief. I vowed that I would never share what I had done earlier in the day. That pain was mine alone.

My Road to Emmaus was full of twists and turns and deeply held secrets. While I know now that it was Jesus walking alongside me, it would take many years to recognize Him.

As I journeyed from the abortion clinic, every day I took a step further away and tried to forget what I had done. I married, got pregnant again and rather than backtrack to the abortion clinic I stayed on the Road to Emmaus. I became a mother to a son.

I was raised Catholic. The day I left the abortion clinic was also the day I left the church. Now that I had a son, I felt a responsibility to have him baptized. I called a Catholic Priest. After telling him what I had done and asking for a time for Confession the priest hung up on me.

I knew that I was unforgiveable and that I was not welcome back.

I did get my son baptized. Four years later I had another son. Once again, I sought baptism.  I tried to teach my boys the Catholic faith. I failed. It was hard teaching them a faith I was not able to live out. So, I joined a protestant church.

I began to thrive and grow in God’s word. One Sunday the preacher was talking about a God that I wanted to know. The merciful and compassionate God. So, I raised my hand and said yes to the Lord. I became pregnant. I felt so blessed to have a baby girl since I aborted my first girl.

I began to study God’s word and was beginning to realize that on my Road to Emmaus Jesus was with me.

But something was missing.

I still did not feel worthy or forgiven and I kept backtracking on my Road to Emmaus to my experience at that abortion clinic. I had to talk to someone about my secret.

I wanted to go to Confession, but I had already been rejected. The protestant church kept encouraging me to just ask the Lord for forgiveness. I cannot tell you how many times I was on my knees begging the Lord for forgiveness.

Nothing gave me any sense of peace or feeling of forgiveness.  I was not forgivable and even though I went to church I would always be that person with the scarlet letter.

There was another longing in my heart: I desired to receive the Eucharist.  When the protestant church had communion on Sunday, I always left feeling rather empty and longing. I wanted to go back to the Catholic Church, but I was not worthy.

I got online and found a ­­­­program in the Catholic Church called Project Rachel. I spoke with a counselor about my abortion. I did not feel condemned, but accepted and understood.  She encouraged me to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. I rejected that idea for several years until I finally had the courage to go.

When I arrived at the retreat, the priest and the team assured me that I was safe. The priest was not going to reject me. I was given the opportunity to share my story without judgement.

The most significant part of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat was that I entered into the Sacrament of Confession. The priest did not judge or reject me.

That evening I was introduced to Adoration. Sitting before the Blessed Sacrament after my confession was the most peace I had felt in many years. The next day when I received the Eucharist during the Sunday Mass, I knew I was home. I had arrived in Emmaus, I recognized Him. The gift of his Body and Blood was given for my sins.

While my journey continues, I know Jesus walks alongside me. The Eucharist is the my center of my life. I find strength in Adoration and daily Mass and frequent Confession.

All are gifts of the Church to strengthen me on my Road to Emmaus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Years after Fatima this “Error of Russia” Continues to Wound the Heart of Mary

May 12th, 2017

our_lady_children

By Kevin Burke, LSW

On May 13, 1917 the Mother of Jesus began appearing to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal with a warning that the human family was in mortal spiritual and physical danger.

At the same time Mary was appearing to the children, revolutionaries were planning the overthrow of the Russian monarchy to establish a movement that would institutionalize blasphemy against God.

In July 1917 the blessed Mother warned Fatima visionary Lucia, and the entire world, of this gathering darkness:

“Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”

The Bolsheviks violently seized power in Russia in November 1917 one month after the final apparition at Fatima. The communists launched a massive persecution of the Church in their zeal to wipe out belief in God and the practice of religion in the Soviet Union and later in Eastern Europe and China.

What is perhaps lesser known, is the role of the Soviet Union in the spread of abortion.

Pioneers of Death

Geoffrey Strickland, J.D., J.C.L., who serves as the Rome Office Director for Priests for Life, shares about the roots of abortion in the former Soviet Union:

“…history attests to the fact that Russia spread her errors throughout the world… through the single greatest error of our time: abortion.

Russia was the first country ever to legalize abortion up to birth without restriction and also developed and promulgated technology to this end.[1] Russia and areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union have the highest abortion rate in the world.[2] Further, those countries sharing in the political and ideological legacy of Russia at that time such as China, Cuba and others continue to carry on this violent imperative.[3]

The errors of Russia would later spread to the United States with the legalization of abortion in 1973.

Geoffrey writes:

Thus “various nations” – the innumerable children of every race, creed and culture – have indeed been “annihilated” through the fundamental error of abortion and the faulty logic behind it, namely that a human child is not a human being.”

Over 1 billion unborn girls and boys have been aborted around the world in the last 100 years.

The Mother/Child Connection Runs Deep

Pro Abortion propaganda likes to spin the abortion issue as “a woman’s right to control her private and personal reproductive health care decisions.”

The truth is, abortion disrupts a very intimate relationship that exists on an emotional as well as on a cellular level– a relationship that continues well after the child’s death.

In Science News we learn that a mother carries the cells of her unborn children within her body:

“…biologically speaking, mothers and their children are connected in a way that may surprise you… When the heart is injured, fetal cells seem to flock to the site of injury and turn into several different types of specialized heart cells. Some of these cells may even start beating, a mouse study found.

So technically…A mother really does hold her children in her heart.”

Behold Your Mother

Consider that Mary may still hold the fetal cells of her Divine Son within her assumed body. Mary and her Son shared both a physical, but also a spiritual communion as the great paschal mystery unfolded in the final days in the life of Jesus.

As Jesus suffered horrific torture on the cross, he looked down tenderly at his mother, entrusting her to the Apostle John.   Yet in this action, Jesus was also proclaiming the ongoing mission of Mary as the mother of all Christians, and of the entire human family.

In this spiritual motherhood, Mary experiences an intimate and passionate love for each of her children.

Our Lady of Fatima shared with Lucia:

My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me.

The metaphor of sensitive heart tissue penetrated by thorns reveals how closely Mary is attached to us, and how our sinful actions wound her at the deepest level of her being.

Mary’s heart was filled with anguish as she appeared to the Shepherd children of Fatima. She warned of the unfolding short and long-term consequences of the rise of atheistic communism.  Our Blessed Mother saw the diabolical power of those destructive ideologies and the political and cultural revolutions that have rocked the world over the last 100 years.

Our Lady of Fatima surely understood how the attacks upon the Providential Fatherhood of God would lead to violence against the unborn child, the corruption of human sexuality, and other developments that continue to wreak havoc on marriage and family life.

Consolation as Mercy

Like the visionaries of Fatima, we are also called to console the heart of Mary. But this consolation is really a loving and merciful gift from Mary and Jesus.

I have worked for over 20 years as a counselor with women and men who have participated in the death of their unborn children. Their testimonies  reveal the spiritual and emotional suffering unleashed in their lives after the procedure, often leading to failed relationships, addictions, and multiple abortion procedures.

The symptoms of complicated grief after abortion are often manifest in an intimate and destructive way in the corruption of the relationships between men and women that can have a detrimental effect on marriage and family life.

We console our Blessed Mother by turning away from pride, by ceasing to justify and rationalize sinful actions, especially those that viciously attack the dignity of the human person, such as pornography and abortion. Mary calls us to repent of those sins of selfishness; idolatry manifested in greed/lust/power; prejudice, violence and hatred.

Mary pleads with her children that this life is very short – she implores us to reject all that separate us from God and threatens our eternal salvation.

It is also a great consolation to Mary and Jesus when we humbly open our darkest and shameful wounds like abortion, to the healing light of truth.

Rachel’s Vineyard and other abortion recovery programs facilitate an intimate emotional and spiritual encounter with Christ in a process that features exercises rooted in the Word of God, and the grace of the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist that are part of the weekend experience.

As parents honor and embrace their children with love, and grieve this loss in a healthy way, they can entrust their child to the Lord’s merciful care. While there is pain, there is also the consolation and peace of the Holy Spirit and the real hope of a spiritual relationship with their child in this life, and God willing, a Heavenly reunion in the next.

“My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph”

Mary reassured us that even with the massive death and destruction of the last 100 years, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. Perhaps we are witnessing an anticipation of that final victory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the reconciliation and healing of women and men after abortion.

Let us pray together for a special outpouring of grace and mercy as we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima.   May this commemoration facilitate a wider awakening to the fervent call of a loving mother to her millions of children that have yet to reconcile their most shameful and grievous sins, and find the healing and peace that only her son Jesus can provide.

 

[1] See for example http://www.liveaction.org/news/the-abortion-ripple-effect-russias-tragic-abortion-tale/; http://time.com/3679288/iceland-abortion/.

[2] See for example, http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/abortion-around-the-world-where-are-rates-highest/19/; http://www.liveaction.org/news/the-abortion-ripple-effect-russias-tragic-abortion-tale/.

[3] See, for example, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/world/americas/in-cuba-an-abundance-of-love-but-a-lack-of-babies.html and https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/china-commits-staggering-23-million-abortions-per-year-according-to-us-stat.

Turning IVF Embryo’s Into Jewelry: It’s Not as Crazy as you Think

May 8th, 2017

IVF jewelry

By Kevin Burke, LSW

[I want to be clear that in this article I am in no way defending the use of IVF embryo’s to make memorial jewelry. The negative reactions to this are of course warranted and the practice is deeply disturbing.  However I hope to offer another perspective based on my experience of over 20 years in counseling and ministry to women and men after abortion. ]

You may have seen this article on the Kidspot website, “Couples are turning extra IVF embryos into jewelry.”

Belinda Stafford is the mother featured in the Kidspot piece. Belinda seems to me a caring and sensitive mom struggling to resolve the complex moral and family decisions that reproductive technologies present to couples.

Couples facing infertility issues are vulnerable.

They have the good and natural desire to start a family together. Yet for various reasons they find this impossible. IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is waiting with the shiny apple that our first parents ate in the Garden of Eden.

This modern version of that ancient story from the book of Genesis assures us that we can assume God-like providence over procreation and human life, without any negative consequences. Given the desperate desire to parent, couples are often unaware of the moral, spiritual and practical challenges that IVF will present.

Belinda shares that even though they were able to give birth to twins during the process, there was a price to pay:

“We had been on a six-year journey of IVF…It was painful, tormenting, a strain on our marriage and just plain hard.”

One of those challenges involves the excess embryos that are created during the IVF process that the couple must either preserve at great expense or discard. Belinda reveals a clear understanding of the human life created in the IVF process and does not use some Orwellian euphemism to rationalize the nature of their tiny lives:

“My embryos were my babies – frozen in time.”

Exactly true.

As a loving mother, how could she simply throw them away?

“When we completed our family, it wasn’t in my heart to destroy them. I needed them with me. Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake.”

The Post Abortion Connection

While there are clear differences between the IVF experience and those who have abortions, there are some connections we can explore.

Given the anguish many parents experience when they come to regret their role in the death of their unborn child or children, they have a need to share their painful feelings and memories of the abortion event within a process of spiritual and emotional hailing.

An essential aspect of that journey in programs like Rachel’s Vineyard, is the transition from their inability to acknowledge and grieve what was lost – and the movement to develop a spiritual relationship as mother/father of their unique child.

Those who grieve their aborted children do not have the remains of the child to provide a place of burial and closure. The healing process closes with a memorial service where participants read a loving letter to their child and entrust them to the Lord’s mercy.

Some mothers and fathers will find other ways to memorialize their child with a special piece of jewelry, a website or other space dedicated for this purpose, a Christmas ornament, or a piece of artwork or music to honor and remember their precious child.

The Truth Will Set You Free

In the Kidspot article, the author says of Belinda Stafford:

“She now carries her babies with her wherever she goes.”

Belinda like all mothers is deeply attached to the children she has conceived with her husband Shaun.

She agonized as she considered their tiny lives being discarded or left in frozen limbo.

She hungered for a closure that would honor their lives and keep them close to her mother’s heart.

Sadly, this method of memorializing human embryos reveals the slippery slope of the IVF process. IVF takes the experience of procreation, and entrusts that intimate communion, and any lives conceived, to the secular setting of science and laboratory.

Pope Paul VI warned us in 1968 of the deleterious effects of separating the unitive from the procreative aspects of sexual intimacy:

“…we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. “ (Humanae Vitae, section 17)

An essential aspect of abortion recovery, and one that can never be forced, is when the heart moves from pride to blessed humility, and opens up to God in sorrow and repentance for one’s role in the child’s death.

The desire of couples using IVF technology to memorialize their children arises out a deeper need to honor the unique life of each of their children conceived in this process.

Yet, both science and faith reveal that the process leads them to participate in the death of their conceived children.

An authentic and spiritually complete response to the loss of these children will not be found in simply preserving their remains in a piece of jewelry. This may bring a superficial and even comforting sense of closure to some parents that will seem to honor their children’s unique lives and preserve some parental connection.

The pathway to truth and real peace is a more painful one that calls parents involved in such fertility treatments to humbly acknowledge that, like our first parents in the Garden, we can be tempted to assume the providential authority of God over human life.

With that said, couples are usually not equipped with the moral and spiritual formation to make the right decisions when confronted with the painful awareness of infertility, and persuaded by medical professionals, friends and family that IVF is their best option.

Finally we need to consider how the living siblings of those children conceived in the IVF process will respond when they learn someday of the loss of their brothers and sisters that were discarded after fertility treatment.

Perhaps like siblings of aborted children, they may also require some support to work through their own feelings and survivor guilt at being offered the gift of life, while their siblings died, and their remains memorialized in jewelry.

For couple’s facing infertility, please consider life affirming alternatives to IVF such at those offered by the National Gianna Center for Women’s Health and Fertility

 

The Prodigal Father: David and His Son Daniel Grieve the Impact of Abortion on their Family

April 18th, 2017

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Many years after the Roe V Wade decision legalized abortion in the U.S., a young man named Daniel Rosa stood at the steps of the Supreme Court and shared how abortion has impacted his family.

Daniel’s shared his grief at the loss of a sibling to abortion. His story reveals the truth of how the Abortion Shockwaves touch not only the mother, but also the father and siblings of an aborted child.

The Sins of the Father

Daniel’s public testimony is directly linked to his father’s journey of abortion loss and healing.

Daniel’s father, David Rosa shares that at a time of darkness and weakness in his life, he made decisions that hurt his marriage and family and took the life of his unborn child, conceived in an adulterous affair.

After attending a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend and a period of careful discernment, David shared his abortion story with his son Daniel. Within David’s story is an important message not only for his son, but for all men to hear.

If you fall, being a real man means having the courage and humility to honestly face your failings and the ways your selfishness, blindness and sin have injured others. (For some men, these behaviors may flow from past abuse and unacknowledged loss.) With God’s grace, and with the help of others you can find healing and peace for yourself and your family.

Daniel’s testimony reveals that even after he learns of his father’s failings, while grieved for the pain this caused his parents and family, and the loss of his sibling, he came away with an even deeper respect and love for his dad.

The Harvest is Plentiful

Consider how many fathers have engaged in affairs and coerce their partner’s abortions to cover up their sinful secrets and lies. Without healing they will continue to act out this sin and emotional pain in their lives and relationships, often falling into chemical and sexual addiction to repress and deny this pain.

The first step is to find compassionate support, reconciliation and healing in an abortion recovery program. The Men and Abortion Network can also help you find free one on one counseling and mentor support.

Abortion recovery opens the door to a supportive network of clergy/ministers, counselors and fellow Christians who understand the post abortion journey.

This support is essential as you begin the healing process for yourself and your family.

 

The Abortion Pill: The Psychological Experience of Labor and Delivery in the Home

April 11th, 2017

Abortion Pill 2

by Kevin Burke, LSW

Counselor Cullen Herout has an important article on home based chemical abortions in Crisis Magazine.

Cullen shares that in March 2016 the FDA approved the use of the abortion pill Mifespristone for women up to 10 weeks pregnant.  Close to 25 percent of abortions in the United States are chemical abortions and this number will likely continue to rise.

Like Cullen, I also serve as a counselor on Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for women and men suffering after abortion.   Couples often rationalize that the abortion pill merely initiates an early miscarriage.  They are tempted to see the pills as an easier solution than a medical procedure at the abortion center.  However the actual experience of the abortion pill can be a shocking and traumatic event.

On a recent Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, a couple shared their traumatic chemical abortion story. The mother was 6 weeks pregnant and after an extended period of severe cramping the child was delivered in their bathroom.  The father had to fish the tiny child out of the toilet.

The father buried the child in their back yard.  He frequently visited the “grave site” as he struggled to process the grief and trauma of that event.  They found significant emotional and spiritual healing of that experience on their Rachel’s Vineyard weekend, but they remain wounded by that abortion individually, and as a couple.

What are the possible psychological and physical trauma associated with chemical abortion in the home?

What happens to couples when their home becomes the abortion center and procedure room?

Please read Cullen’s article to learn more.

We need to increase our efforts to educate the public about the reality of chemical abortion. Women and their partners need to understand the psychological risks of at-home abortions and the likely individual and relational impact of labor and delivery of early pregnancies in the home.

Does Christianity Form us to Be the Passive Doormats of the World – or Horses Trained for Battle?

March 28th, 2017

Sword of Revelation

When Jesus said “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” and St Paul refers to the “meekness” of Christ, we tend to think of passivity, vulnerability, and spineless submission.

Sadly, many are turned off to Christianity because they think it forms it’s adherents to be weak doormats for abuse.

Author Sam Whatley tells us…we got it all wrong.

This brief article has some priceless wisdom and inspiration for those on the front lines of the battle to end abortion and proclaim reconciliation and recovery to anyone who participates in the death of unborn children.

We are not called to be hot-headed, irrational firebrands nor are we passive and powerless bystanders on the sidelines of a culture of death.

We are called to be meek – meek as ancient horses trained to remain united and obedient to our Master,  focused and resolute amidst the chaos and carnage of war.

Read the article:  Meek Like a Warhorse

 

A Comprehensive PATH to Healing Abortion Loss: An Atlanta Ministry Shares the Benefit of offering both the SaveOne Bible Study and Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats

March 22nd, 2017

PATH

In 1987 MaryAnn McNeil and Anita Willoughby saw the need in the Atlanta area for emotional and spiritual healing of those hurting after abortion. They founded PATH (Post Abortion Treatment and Healing)  at St. Jude the Apostle Church in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

PATH developed a comprehensive outreach for those wounded by abortion that features bible studies, weekend retreats, counseling and community outreach.

The current director of PATH is Jody Duffy, RN. Jody has served as a volunteer in abortion healing ministry with PATH from 2001 until March 2016 when she took over as Director.

I recently interviewed Jody to learn more about PATH.

Kevin:   PATH has offered support groups and later retreats since they started. Recently you began to use the SaveOne Bible Study program at PATH.  Can you share with us your experience with SaveOne?

Jody: Last April, 2016, I attended a training for the SaveOne Bible study that was being sponsored by psychiatrist Dr. Martha Shuping.   Dr Shuping serves as a PATH advisor and is also trained as a Rachel’s Vineyard facilitator and counselor.  The workshop presenter was SaveOne founder Sheila Harper.

I brought the information back to PATH and began training our Bible study leaders shortly after. Since last April, with over 20 volunteers PATH has completed four SaveOne Bible studies and currently has five running at six different locations in the Atlanta areas.

 Kevin: Jody can you share with us about your experience offering both the Rachel Vineyard weekends and the SaveOne bible study for those hurting after abortion?

Jody: PATH offers 3 Rachel’s Vineyard retreats each year.  Rachel’s Vineyard is like no other experience for a person needing healing from a past abortion experience. However, participants benefit from a continuation of that process of healing. That is why we offer the Bible study format as well to our clients.

Due to time and schedules and even geography, some people are limited to the retreat. That is why we always advocate Companions on the Journey, an online after care program offered by Rachel’s Vineyard.  As with many other Rachel’s Vineyard sites, people come from different parts of the country and would not be able to participate in our local programs.

Kevin: Jody you have shared with me that you see SaveOne and Rachel’s Vineyard working nicely together.

Jody: We recommend and offer both the Weekend Retreat and Bible Study to those that come to us for help.  The two programs really complement one another.

The Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is an intense weekend of sharing, learning, and healing. In itself it is a profound and valuable recovery experience.

However, recovery is a journey and by offering the Bible study, we can walk down that road for 11 weeks and dig deeper. Our clients as well as our leaders are very impressed with the SaveOne Bible study.

SaveOne is tender, experiential, deep, and healing. It really allows participants to look deeper at what really happened and how to trust God to walk that journey with you. The program guides one through some of those emotions which may have been left unchecked and teaches them how to rely on God to help them face their past and walk on the healing journey with them.

So clients can begin with either program initially and then later experience the retreat or support group if they like.

Kevin: PATH offers its services to men as well as women correct?

Jody: Yes, our Rachel’s Vineyard retreats have always been open to both men and women. The SaveOne program has a separate model for men and women and we offer both.

Kevin: It’s great to see in the Catholic Church how many Deacons are getting involved in abortion recovery ministry. You are blessed to have Deacon Mike Mobley serving with PATH.

Jody:  We are truly blessed and Deacon Mike Mobley has worked on our Rachel’s Vineyard team for over 10 years. He has also led Bible studies for men. Sometime he ministers in the group format and other times he meets one on one with the men.  It all depends on the need at the time.

Deacon Mike recently completed our first Men’s SaveOne study. He and the man he worked with were very pleased with the study. Another men’s group just started last week at our Roswell, GA location. Bible study allows time for the men to form a true brotherhood and friendship, just like it does the women.

Kevin: You also minister to married couples right?

Jody: We have had married couples on both the retreat and in the Bible study. However, some prefer to do the retreat and Bible study separately. We are always flexible depending on the situation.

Sometimes participants in our SaveOne support group will later attend the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend with their spouse who may or may not have a past abortion.   They always find a deeper healing of their loss within their marriage.

Spouses who are not the biological parent have the opportunity to not only come and support their partner but also experience the blessing of the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat process. On Sunday at the memorial service they can spiritually adopt their spouse’s unborn child or children lost to abortion.  This provides another level of healing for families.

Kevin: What other outreach is PATH involved in?

Jody: Along with providing the Retreats and Bible studies, PATH speaks at parishes, to youth groups, Respect for Life gatherings, the Knights of Columbus, Students for Life groups, and anyone else who will listen to our message about the pain and hurt abortion causes and importance of healing from abortion.

____________

–                  Here’s the Contact info for PATH Atlanta and their website here.

–                  To find out more about the SaveOne program please visit this page on their website  or Phone: (615) 347-8800 – email: info@saveone.org

–                  To learn more about starting a Rachel’s Vineyard program in your area please contact the International Rachel’s Vineyard Office or phone 610 354 0555.

 

 

“My Dad Made Me Have the Abortion”: A Desperate Father Wrestles with Pride, Denial and the Love for his Daughter

March 13th, 2017

father daughter

“I was hoping you could help my daughter. She needs counseling…my daughter, Gina, is dating this guy. He’s verbally and physically abusive.”

Mr. Davis sounded desperate. In his voice I could detect anger and hurt but worst of all helplessness.

“I can’t just sit back and watch my daughter ruin her life…I love her so much but I’m losing her.”

I informed Mr. Davis that [as a counselor] I couldn’t break them up but I could help Gina examine her relationship and sort out her feelings about this man.

Then I asked Mr. Davis if anything else had happened between Gina and her boyfriend. The question itself was a threat.

Mr. Davis hesitated. Finally he answered;

“Well, there is something but it should really come from her. I think she should be the one to tell you.”

“Did your daughter have an abortion?” I asked in a matter of fact tone.

The word was said – Abortion.

There was silence, as is almost always the case. I had a telephone listing for Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats (For Post Abortion Healing), yet still people would often struggle to explain why they were calling.

I met his daughter that night. Gina was 19, with long blond hair and sad blue eyes.

“My dad made me have it,” she explained. “He told me I could not live with them if I didn’t. He knew it might make me hate him but he was willing to take that risk. I’d get over it, he said. I was not raised to believe in abortion. In high school I even wrote a paper on it.”

Gina’s story came out in between distressing sobs and gasps for air.

“I came home from college on a Friday to tell them about the pregnancy and what we were planning to do…. My dad hit the roof. Dad took my boyfriend into the kitchen to have a man-to-man talk. They would not let me in. Dad tried to pressure him to convince me that abortion was the best thing.”

With much difficulty, she continued.

“Two days later I was up on a table, my feet in stirrups. I cried the whole way there. My mom took me. I kept telling her I did not want this…They killed my baby.”

After a long tearful pause, Gina continued,

“Just as quickly as it had happened everyone seemed to forget about it. My parents never talked about it. They were furious when they found out that I was still seeing Joe. Things were not so good between Joe and me either. We were always fighting.”

Joe signified Gina’s connection to their aborted baby. Gina feared that giving him up would destroy the only bond remaining to the child she still needed to grieve.

Gina was trapped in a vicious cycle by which she was punishing both herself and her father.

Once Gina was in treatment for the emotional trauma of her abortion, she was able to express these feelings. It was important for both her sake and her family, however, that her parents should also enter into the therapy process with her.

Father Knows Best?

The night before our [family counseling session, Gina’s father] called me.

“My stomach has been upset all week since I heard about this meeting,” he said. “I want to do what is best for Gina.”

Then his tone became more formal and forceful:

“I just want you to know that this is NOT a moral issue to me. Gina had to have that abortion! I still think we made the right decision…”

With renewed determination, I explained,

“Mr. Davis, I know you love your daughter very much. The fact remains that your daughter lost something. What she lost was a child. Gina thinks about it every day. She cries about it every night. The event is far from over for her. You need to hear how the abortion has affected her.”

Mr. Davis did not respond. With conviction, I continued:

“When someone dies, the worst thing another can say is ‘it was for the best, its better this way.’ This does nothing to comfort and console; it only makes the person angry because you are not appreciating their loss or grief. Worse for Gina is that you do not recognize the life that she is missing. Gina misses her baby, a child you have not been able to acknowledge.”

Eventually, Mr. Davis agreed that he would try to listen and that maybe he had something to learn.  I really couldn’t hope for more than that.

When Mr. Davis came in the next morning, he opened with a surprising statement.

“I had no right to make that choice,” he said.

After wrestling with various points in our conversation all night, he admitted that for the first time he realized that abortion was not Gina’s choice.

A Shining Light

The family session began and it was very intense.

Gina expressed her anger, hurt and feelings of rejection. She also shared her grief about the aborted baby.

Suddenly grief came upon Mr. Davis. He stared in disbelief, as if a light had abruptly cast shocking rays into a blackened room.

His voice broke with anguish.

“Oh my baby, my sweet baby, my Gina,” he cried. “I am so sorry. I was so wrong.”

He pressed his face against her cheek and the tears finally came.

His tears mingled with Gina’s as they both wept. Gina put her arms around him. They embraced tightly as her father gently stroked her long hair. All the anger, the bitterness, the pent-up emotions, the grief, gave way. They sobbed in each other’s arms.

Mr. Davis begged for her forgiveness. Between tears and tissues, he told Gina she would have been an incredible mother. In one beautiful moment, her motherhood had been validated and Gina wept with relief.

[Excerpts from Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion, By Theresa Burke, Ph.D. with David Reardon.] You can read the complete chapter and purchase Forbidden Grief here.

 

A Grandmother’s Story of the Traumatic Abortion of Her Grandchild and the Priest Who Helped the Family Heal

March 8th, 2017

mother-daughter-relationship

I begged my daughter Lisa not to have the abortion.

I called my Parish Priest, Fr. Dominick.  He rushed to the hospital to try and persuade Lisa to change her mind.   Father gave her a rosary blessed by Pope John Paul, and spoke of what a gift this child would be to the family.

Lisa walked away from the priest in tears and went into the procedure room to allow the doctors and nurses to end the life of my grandchild.

I cannot explain the level of grief and anger that flooded my heart and soul. I was filled with rage at the hospital and all involved with the procedure.

But I was most hurt by my daughter going through with the abortion even after I pleaded with her to give life to this child.

Reaching Out from the Pain

My mother and father have always been very close to my children and they were aware of the abortion. They were deeply grieved by the loss of their great-grandchild and heartbroken for Lisa.

When my mother learned of the abortion she prayed immediately and asked her deceased dad to receive the baby since the child died on my grandfather Adam’s birth date.

Shortly after the abortion I went to talk to Fr. Dominick. After I shared my pain, he suggested I consider a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend, a program of emotional and spiritual healing for individuals and families suffering after abortion loss.

The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat was a powerful experience of healing and went to the heart of my post abortion trauma and grief. The weekend helped me to find peace and closure. I formed a number of close friendships from that weekend and the follow up support group meetings.

During this period I would pray during Eucharistic Adoration and beg Jesus to call my daughter to healing. I could see how she was suffering terribly after the abortion.

She knew of my Rachel’s Vineyard experience and my friends from the retreat. Lisa would react with cynicism and mock my “abortion friends.” But beneath that defensive behavior, she was hurting and in need of healing.

A Miracle Unfolds

Six months after the abortion, my son asked Lisa to be the Godmother of his baby boy. This event triggered a release of her pent up post abortion grief and pain and Lisa suffered a nervous breakdown requiring hospitalization.

She recovered from the breakdown, but remained deeply wounded.

Two years after the abortion she met a man with an abortion in his history. He encouraged her to consider the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend. When Lisa told me she was considering making a retreat, I was overjoyed.

I was blessed to be able to attend the memorial service on Sunday of my daughter’s weekend when participants honor the children with a special ceremony and Mass.

When I opened the memorial service program I looked over the list of names of the babies being entrusted to the Lord.  I knew right away the name Lisa had given my grandchild – Dominick Leonard.

Lisa named the baby after the priest, Fr. Dominick who had been so kind to her and who tried to stop the abortion – and after the abortion continued to reflect the love and mercy of Christ to my daughter. She gave the baby the middle name of Leonard after my dad, who Lisa loves dearly.

This memorial service was deeply painful but it was the suffering of the cross, with the faith and hope of the resurrection. We trust that Dominic is alive with the Lord. We grieved and honored the child together.  This was a time of grace and healing of our relationship which had been so deeply damaged by the abortion.

For the next 6 years I had the privilege of serving in various capacities on the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats offered by the Archdiocese of Newark.  I encourage any grandparent suffering after the loss of a grandchild to abortion to consider if a healing program would help you find peace and bless your family.

– Leann Domico-Vasquez