The Cross Above the Manger: Coping with Grief and Loss Over the Holidays

December 19th, 2018

By Kevin Burke, LSW

Christmas can be a magical time, especially when enjoying the season through the eyes of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  However alongside the lights and festivities, the joy and wonder of this special time, many can quietly struggle with a sense of grief and loss.

You don’t have to be an Ebenezer Scrooge to recognize that the expectations for an idealized Hallmark Christmas fail to match up to the complex realities, the uncertainty and fear that are part of many of our lives.

The death of a friend or family member, loved ones serving in the military, divorce and relationship challenges, illness and unemployment, or the loss of a beloved pet, can cast a long shadow on our holiday celebrations.

Holidays can magnify any painful experiences of family dysfunction from the past and the fallout from those difficult times can linger and impact current family celebrations.

Those ministering in the abortion healing ministries know that this time of year, the focus on the Christ Child and the joy of children at Christmas can surface feelings of regret and sadness about a past abortion loss (or losses.)  We remember the son, daughter, grandchild,  brother, sister, niece or nephew who will never share in the wonder of the season.

This repressed grief associated with abortion and other losses can contribute to substance abuse, anxiety, depression and a sense of melancholy. You may find yourself pulling away from social situations or  keeping hyper-busy and distracted, immersed in the hustle and bustle of the season.

If we can slow down the Holiday rush for a few minutes, we may discover something important in the deeper meaning of this great feast.   We may be able to make some peace with our pain and loss in the context of the Christmas story.

As the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus unfolds, before the choir of angels sings to the Shepherds in the fields, we see the first reaction of Mary and Joseph upon learning of their unique vocation and calling from God – fear.

As the Angel Gabriel encounters Mary and Joseph, he responds to the anxiety in their hearts.  It is a message to all who are suffering and struggling this time of year:

“Do not be afraid Mary…do not be afraid Joseph…”

They are overwhelmed with the massive changes being unleashed in their lives and are naturally afraid.

This touches upon the mystery in the lives of the Holy Family, and in our own stories.  Alongside the joy of the incarnation and the birth of the Christ, as the choirs of angels sing, and wise-men and shepherds follow that brilliant star – there is the looming threat of murderous political persecution, exile from family and friends, and in time, the rejection and crucifixion of the Christ Child in the manger.

Fr. Bernhard Speringer shares:

  …the Cross above the Manger is more than a mere decoration…The birth and death of Jesus Christ, the Manger and the Cross, belong together indissolubly. God became man in order to die for us as man. God was born in Bethlehem in order to be able to lay down his life on Golgotha out of love for men!  Thus the Manger and the Cross form a union. Both the Manger and the Cross are for us the revelation of God’s love.

Some Coping Strategies for the Holidays

– Lower your expectations and the expectations of other.  Our commercialized culture puts great pressure on families this time of year.   Avoid those things that take you away from focusing on the deeper meaning of this great feast.

– Give yourself permission, especially if you are struggling with your own grief and loss, to avoid or at least limit certain situations that will drain you emotionally and spiritually. Instead do things that will feed your soul and be healthy for your body, mind and spirit.

– At Holiday gatherings, avoid those conversation topics and encounters that will feed into conflict and stress you out.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to avoid getting pulled into any old toxic dynamics and exchanges and let the peace of the Christ Child reign in your heart.

– If you have a friend or relative who is going through a tough time or had a rough year, try and make some time to be with them. Above all give the gift of listening with love and acknowledge their losses.  Embrace them with love and assure them of your continued support.

– If you know a friend or loved one who was impacted by an abortion loss and they have shared this with you in the past, check in with them to see how they are doing.   Share a recovery resource or contact information for an abortion healing program in your area.  It really is the best Christmas gift you could offer them.

– Exercise daily as your health allows. It’s very challenging to do this at first if you are grieving or struggling with depression.  Start with something simple and build on the positive results.  A daily walk and simple stretching have been proven to be very effective medicine for anxiety and depression.  If you need additional support ask a friend, family physician, or your pastor for a counselor referral.  Avoid the over use of alcohol or other drugs or behaviors to avoid your feelings and find relief of your pain and grief.

– Spend time each day in quiet prayer with God. Ask the Lord to help you avoid both isolation but also over-business as ways of coping with your pain.  Open your heart to the Spirit and ask for consolation, strength and the peace to accept the will of God in your life.  Unite your suffering with that of the Holy Family and pray that the grace from your simple sacrifice may touch someone you love who is in need of God’s mercy.

– Make a resolution to get involved in services and activities at your local church.  Pray for discernment to see if God is calling you to reach out with the love of Christ to the homebound, prisoners, the homeless, the unborn, and children in need.  Ask your pastor or local charity how you can best serve.

Finally I want to share a music video of a Christmas song I wrote called “The Promise.” You may find it speaks to you if you are hurting this time of year.  Please note that while it reveals the joy and wonder of the season, it is graphic at times and intense in its depictions of the mystery of the incarnation.  I pray it will touch your heart with the great love and mercy that God has for you, his precious son or daughter.  Have a blessed Christmas and New Year.  [Music recorded and produced by Henry Gennaria.]



An Imprisoned Human Rights Activist Finally Home for Christmas – She Reveals that Many of Her Fellow Prisoners Shared About a Traumatic Abortion Loss In their Past

December 17th, 2018

Mary Wagner is a human rights activist from Canada. This Christmas Mary will celebrate the birth of Christ with friends and family. But for most of the last decade, Mary Wagner has often celebrated the birth of Christ in prison.

Her crime?

Mary enters abortion centers, peacefully prays, and shares a rose and information about other options with each woman in the waiting room. She refuses to obey Ontario’s “bubble law” that requires protestors to maintain a specified distance from abortion facilities.

It has been a great sacrifice for Mary to be in prison during the Holiday season. Yet while challenging, Wagner shares of the joy she experienced. “Every time I have been in custody over Christmas, I had a sense of joy in that the first Christmas was so poor…Jesus was born in unpleasant circumstances…”

Wagner responds to those who criticize her actions telling her she can stay out of prison, and avoid arrest, by respecting the bubble law. Mary says that if she obeys this unjust law, then “the children scheduled to be killed will have no one to stand up for them.”

Many of the Female Inmates Suffer From Abortion Loss

Wagner reports that 85 percent of the women she interacted with in prison have at least one abortion in their past. She says that many were teenagers at the time, pressured by a boyfriend or family member to abort and felt they had no other option. They expressed sadness and regret about their decision.

Mary encountered a fellow prisoner who was pregnant at age 15 and forced to have an abortion by her mother. The girl broke ties with her family, fell into substance abuse, and now at age 29 was still dealing with the aftereffects.

Obviously most women or men who have abortions do not end up in prison. Yet, it seems that a high percentage of female and male inmates have abortions in their past.

Is there a relationship between the experience of traumatic abortion loss and incarceration?

In my book Tears of the Fisherman, I explore the topic of abortion loss and recovery for men. In a chapter on a prison ministry program at two Florida maximum security facilities, we learn that close to 90 percent of the inmates were involved in at least one previous abortion.

For some of these men, there was a direct link from their role in the child’s death, and later criminal behavior. For the majority of the men it was a painful and shame-filled event from their past and an important part of the journey that led them to criminal behavior and prison.

For the inmates I interviewed, and from what we have learned from the hundreds of men who have been through the prison’s Rachel’s Vineyard program, abortion loss connected in a toxic way with earlier father loss/abuse/abandonment and other life trauma. This left the men vulnerable to acting out their rage and grief in self-destructive and criminal ways.

This may hold true with the female inmates as well. Many likely have histories of abuse, family dysfunction, and other life trauma. The feelings and memories of the past, triggered in a powerful way by abortion related trauma, can be overwhelming.

Women and men can try to escape, and act out their painful emotions and memories by engaging in self destructive behaviors, relationships, and addictions. This can lead some women and men into criminal behavior and incarceration.

The Good News

Attending an abortion recovery program in prison helps women and men heal the deep emotional and spiritual wounds that abortion imprints on the heart and soul.

But this experience has other positive benefits.

Inmates intimately encounter the God who became man, healed our wounds, forgives our sins, and loves us with an unconditional love, despite our dark and shameful past.

Hearts are now open to the grace that can open the door to healing of family wounds, and other life trauma. They learn to grieve their losses, and share painful emotions in a healthy way.

[The following is a Christmas song I wrote and perform with producer Henry Gennaria, and a brief video I made to share the great mystery of the incarnation. It reveals the intimate bond between Mary and Jesus that began in the womb and was forged through great wonder and joy…yet also with great suffering. It reveals the radical love of God for each one of us…especially those in most need of His mercy.]


How Abortion Has Weakened Our “Cultural Immune System” and Prepared the Way for Transgender Madness

December 6th, 2018

By Kevin Burke, LSW

– “A Virginia high-school teacher, Peter Vlaming, was fired on Thursday [December 6] after refusing to address a transgender student by the student’s preferred pronoun.” 

– “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here…”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

We know that under great stress, deprived of proper rest and nutrition, our immune systems are weakened.  Our immune response is compromised as it struggles to recognize and respond to threats.  In this weakened state we are more vulnerable to illness.  

Can a nation of people have a type of collective immune system?  

After 45 years of legalized abortion in the U.S., and close to 60 million procedures, there are few families that have not been directly impacted by the loss of a son or daughter, grandchild, sibling, nephew or niece.  

Millions of our fellow citizens have been complicit in the death of an unborn child; e.g., paid for the procedure, pressured or encouraged abortion, drove a friend to the abortion center.  

Thousands of medical and mental health professionals, educators and politicians have participated in direct ways in the death of the unborn. 

This is a shared national trauma. 

We know that individuals can suffer from depression, anxiety and other emotional and physical symptoms from traumatic loss.  They are vulnerable to substance abuse and other forms of self-medication when they are denied the opportunity to work through their painful feelings and grieve their losses.  

 These symptoms can leave women and men vulnerable to having poor boundaries and to exhibit impulsive self-destructive behaviors for a time in their intimate relationships, especially in the aftermath of the abortion event. 

 What is the impact when an entire population of individuals, couples and families suffer from a shared national trauma? 

The continued unfolding of the Shockwaves of Abortion has left our families and communities, especially minority neighborhoods with high abortion rates, and children with emotional challenges and learning disabilities, vulnerable to exploitation.

The Transgender Virus 

The rapid advance of transgender activism in the last few years may be just one warning sign that our culture’s immune system is seriously compromised. 

We have allowed a small minority of radical activists and their twisted ideology, assisted by powerful allies in entertainment and media, to infiltrate our communities,  and our schools.   

Like the abortion rights revolutionaries, the transgendered movement is prepared to lie, manipulate information and language, and viciously attack anyone that dares challenge their agenda.  They are eager to exploit and mutilate our vulnerable children to advance their radical cause.

Like a compromised immune system, parents and educators, counselors and medical professionals find themselves, weak, defenseless, in denial of the threat, or promoting this madness.  

Healthy Organs Were Amputated 

Dr. Kathleen “Kelly” Levinstein, PhD, is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, Flint.   Her research and advocacy work includes human and civil rights violations against the autistic community.

Dr. Levinstein shares a tragic and cautionary tale about the vulnerability of children with autism to the radical agenda of transgender activists.  Dr Levinstein has a daughter who has undergone transgender medical transition:

“My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum -When she was 16, she began watching a TV show called “Degrassi,” which featured an FtoM character. After a few weeks, she announced that she was not actually…lesbian, as she had previously said, but was in fact trans. She started attending a local PFLAG where she met many trans people, including a number of FtoM trans teenagers who were raving about a certain “gender therapist who gave my daughter the go-ahead to have a bilateral mastectomy after only two sessions…Healthy organs were amputated…

It is a crime not just against women, but particularly against disabled women.  So many of these young women who are “transitioning” are also autistic.”

Walt Heyer is an author and public speaker with a passion for mentoring individuals whose lives have been torn apart by unnecessary gender-change surgery.  He shares in an article in the Federalist of a custody battle that features a mother taking her 6 year old son down the dark road of gender transitioning that could lead to the boy’s chemical castration at age 8.  

The father says the boy acts fine with him and does not support this encouragement of the child transitioning.  The mother took her ex-husband to court because he uses male pronouns when referring to the boy, (who the mother calls Luna) and takes his son to the barber for haircuts…when his hair gets long.

Heyer shares:

 “Misdiagnosis of gender dysphoria happens around the world, and people’s lives are harmed when it does… I wrote a book, “Trans Life Survivors,” that shares many first-hand stories of misdiagnosis of gender dysphoria and the heart-breaking results.”

There is another movement that promotes the mutilation and medical experimentation on vulnerable children. Planned Parenthood harvests the healthy organs of unborn little boys and girls torn from the womb of their mothers. 

More Cultural Chaos…or Recovery of Sanity?

The further we are removed from our moral and spiritual Judeo-Christian heritage and the absolute providence of our Creator over human life, the further we travel with Alice down the rabbit hole into cultural chaos and madness.

We need to protect our young people from transgender radicals.  Like teacher Peter Vlaming, parents, educators, and community leaders need to stand up to these ideological bullies, whatever the costs, and protect their vulnerable children.  

An important step to restore sanity will be renewed commitment by our Churches, politicians and citizens to end this national trauma. We need to elect politicians that understand that abortion not only attacks the life of preborn children, it is eating away at the foundation of our society.  

Many of our fellow citizens would benefit from abortion recovery programs.  Women and men are strengthened as spouses and parents when they open up their hearts and souls to repentance and healing of this deep wound. 

If we fail to confront the threats to our national immune system, we will see a nation that becomes increasingly irrational, divided, weak and vulnerable to internal and external attacks.  

The Silence of Adam in the Garden of Choice

November 30th, 2018

by Kevin Burke, LSW

[The following is an excerpt from the book Tears of the Fisherman.]

You have probably heard the creation story from Genesis about Adam and Eve, the snake and the apple. Our enlightened society tends to dismiss the account as a whimsical myth.

The Genesis creation drama, if we take the time to unpack the deeper meaning in the story, reveals fundamental truths about the human person, the relationship of man and woman to God, and the timeless mystery of sin and evil.

As you will see, it is very much a contemporary story.

Medieval art work depicts the familiar construct of this story where Eve is tricked by the clever snake hanging from a branch in a tree as she eats the shiny apple of forbidden fruit.   But a superficial understanding of the text can serve to trivialize the encounter and minimize the frightening nature of Adam and Eve’s deceiver.

Scripture Scholar Scott Hahn suggests that the word used in Genesis to depict the tempter (nahash in Hebrew) can be better translated as serpent or dragon (rather than snake):

So [Eve] is being confronted and brutally intimidated by a dragon that is intent upon producing disobedience…[1]

Hahn then poses the question that psychologist Larry Crabb also asked in his book The Silence of Adam: [2]

The question, then, as you read through this narrative is…where the heck is Adam in all this? By the end of the narrative you discover that he’s right by the woman because she just turns and gives him the fruit to eat…[3]

We often focus on the deception of the woman in this account and fail to look more closely on what Adam’s silence tells us about this couple. She was not facing just a clever snake. Eve was confronted with a cunning and diabolical force that was taking advantage of her vulnerability, without the support and protection of her partner who was passive and silent in the face of the serpent’s attack.

The Garden of Choice

Meet a modern day Eve and Adam, Syrah London and her partner Mark. Syrah shares about the appointment to schedule her abortion:

 I remember calling Mark after the appointment, and telling him I was going through with the procedure.

His sigh of relief broke my heart. I desperately wanted him to tell me not to do it.

But that never came…I spoke with Mark the night before the appointment, and he told me he was leaving town. Already feeling agony and defeat, his words killed any spirit I had left him, telling me to be strong. That was it.

I got out of bed, sat on the bathroom floor and wept. I wept for this baby, I wept for what I was about to do and I wept because my world was crashing.  I knew that after that day, my life would never be the same. [4]

The decision to abort is often a type of reenactment of the fall of our first parents in the Garden. As we learn of the vulnerability of women facing unplanned conception we can see the power of the male response to the developing pregnancy.

The Anguish of Adam

Some women and men who have been through abortion healing programs feel called to publicly share their experience of pain and recovery through an organization called the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. [5]

Listen to the voices of these men of Silent No More as they share about their role in their partner or wife’s abortion:

I realized how small of a man I was cause if I had gone with her her that day, I probably would have realized what had happened, I would have seen how upset how broken she was, and taken her by the hand and said let’s get out of this place.  -Steve

I didn’t defend the life of my own daughter based on misinformation, selfishness, fear, and shame. I let her die to an abortionist knife and I died the same day.  – Scott

I wonder what my son or daughter would look like today if I would have stood up and be a man and fight for the life of my child.  – Miguel

The anguish of Steve, Scott and Miguel touches on a core aspect of their male identity as defenders and protectors of their offspring:

I didn’t defend the life of my daughter

– I didn’t stand up and be a man

– I was weak and passive as a man while she went to have the abortion.

Their voices echo the suffering of Adam.   Imagine Adam’s anguish when he came to understand the extent of the damage unleashed by his passivity in the Garden as Eve faced the serpent’s temptation.  Men who come to honestly assess their role in abortion decisions understand Adam’s pain.

There is hope and healing for men suffering after abortion loss. Read more about the impact of abortion on men and the rewarding path to recovery in Tears of the Fisherman.

Looking Back

I wrote and perform the following song, and created this video from my experience as a counselor in Rachel’s Vineyard.   It reveals what some men may experience when part of abortion decisions and accompany the child’s mother to abortion centers – and the aftermath years after the procedure.   [Music produced by Henry Gennaria.]


[1] Hahn, Scott. Mary Holy Mother. Catholic Pages.

[2] Crabb, Lawrence J., Don Hudson, and Al Andrews. The Silence of Adam: Becoming Men of Courage in a World of Chaos. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995.

[3] Ibid

[4]London, Syrah.  The Timeline of What It’s Like to Go through an Abortion.  Elite Daily.  October 12 2015.


Primal Fear: The Impact of Abortion on Adult Children of Divorce

November 14th, 2018

By Kevin Burke, LSW

When we think of the impact of divorce on children, there is often the assumption that if the parents work together in good faith, and do not place the children in the middle of their conflicts and relational drama, then in time the children will adjust and be fine.

Leila Miller is the editor of “Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak.”  Miller shares in an article entitled, The Adult Children of Divorce Find Their Voice, that as she began the process of compiling research for her book she was shocked at the level of pain she encountered:

“… I started asking adult children of divorce about their experiences. I eventually wrote up a brief questionnaire, appealing on social media for volunteers… I learned that not only does the pain of divorce continue into adulthood, but the suffering is not lessened even if the child experienced a “good divorce.”

…A 50-year-old wife and mother whose parents shared custody and got along well after their divorce told me:

I was devastated as a child when my dad drove away, and I will never forget standing in our front yard literally screaming, ‘Come back!’ I didn’t understand what was happening, and my three-year-old sister certainly didn’t understand…I would honestly say I ‘survived’ the divorce, but the fall-out wasn’t pretty: Lots of acting out and ‘unsettled’ behavior. It really skewed the way I looked at guys and what I thought ‘love’ was. If marriage wasn’t forever, why should anything else be?”

A 55 yr old woman shares her emotional experience of divorce:

I believe [the divorce] instilled a fear of abandonment in me with regard to all of my relationships. I developed problems trusting people to be there for me, believing that when the going got rough, people would leave me. I never learned any skills for solving conflict in relationships. As much as I desperately craved intimacy and love, the closer someone came to me, the more terrified I was of getting hurt, or worse—abandoned. I unconsciously sabotaged relationships, as I didn’t know how to receive and accept real love…”

Abortion and Adult Children of Divorce

I have worked as a counselor for the last 20 years with women and men who later regret their participation in abortion, and are looking for healing and peace. On our weekend abortion recovery program, Rachel’s Vineyard, Saturday morning participants share their abortion story.  But they are encouraged to share that abortion event in the context of their overall life experiences.

Their stories reveal that some children from divorced families can be overwhelmed by their emotions when facing an unplanned pregnancy, and in the after math of the abortion procedure.

Divorce can be such a seismic emotional event for some kids, that when faced with an unplanned pregnancy later in life, they may panic and try to establish some sense of control as soon as possible – control they did not have as children.

They may have deep ambivalence about becoming a parent and terrified of losing their partner. While these feelings are common to others facing an unplanned pregnancy, with children of divorce, the level of anxiety and panic can be even more intense.

The aftermath of the abortion event is a complicated grief for the children of divorce. It seems that there is a complex emotional dynamic at work here that touches on both the divorce and abortion event.  It may be helpful to look at abortion and divorce in the context of of being both victim and perpetrator.

The experience of divorce can be like an emotional abortion.   A child can have the sense of being violently separated from what was previously thought to be a stable and lifelong family unit. A child who was traumatized by the experience of divorce and later participates in the death of their unborn child magnifies an already deep and complex wound.

The adult child of divorce has the experience of being both innocent victim of and later a type of perpetrator by participating in the abuse/death of their innocent unborn child.  In other cases a woman or man may feel pressured to have the abortion, overwhelmed by their emotions, or have no voice or say in the matter.  These feelings of anxiety, panic and powerlessness can reenact the emotional devastation of the divorce event.

The abortion experience may connect in a very toxic way with that wounded inner child resulting in depression, anxiety, anger issues, sleep disturbance, increased drug and alcohol use, and acting out this complicated grief leading to problems in intimate relationships.

Building A Foundation of Healing and Peace

Abortion recovery programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can create a foundation of peace and healing at the heart of this deep and complex wound.  As women and men find healthy ways to process their abortion related pain, and grieve in healthy ways, they are reconnected in love with their aborted children.

As they reconcile with God, loved ones and their unborn children they have the opportunity to also grieve other losses in their lives. They have a safe place to share their childhood wounds, and allow their own inner child to have a voice, to be consoled and move toward healing and peace.

Women and men who have experienced divorce and abortion will benefit from developing a relationship with a counselor so they can continue to build on that foundation of healing in their lives.


Our childhood wounds need not sentence us to endless reenactments of our trauma, paralyzed by our inability to trust and find the intimacy and love we so deeply desire and need.  Reach out for the help you need.

I wrote and performed the following song (produced by Henry Gennaria) and created this music video that I dedicate to adult children of divorce, and in a special way for those that suffered both divorce and later abortion loss in their lives. It affirms the loss and pain of divorce, but ends with a message of hope and healing.

Evermore Music Video





“God Why Me?” The Powerful Connection between My Childhood Trauma and Two Abortions – and the Catholic Priest Who Opened the Door to My Recovery and Healing

October 22nd, 2018

By Charles Brian

As a young boy, I used to lie in bed at night and wonder…God, why me?

I grew up an only child adopted at birth. When I was 8 years old, my father almost died in a car accident leaving him totally disabled.  My mother was diagnosed schizophrenic and had several mental breakdowns and suicide attempts.  Verbal and physical conflicts were an everyday occurrence in my home.  My father committed adultery when I was 9 with a family friend who used to have us over for dinner and card games.

When I was age eleven, my parents divorced and my mother bought a tavern. By the age of 15, I saw everything a child should not see.  My father moved back in with us right before we bought the business and continued his alcoholic and gambling ways.  My mother focused 90% of her time working at the tavern, and eventually found a boyfriend even though my father was still living with us.  There was constant jealousy between the two as they played their relationships against each other.  I felt abandoned and alone most of my childhood.

There were times when my feelings would surface as I struggled to express my pain and anger.   This led to angry exchanges with my mother.

Her response?

She would hold a gun to my head or chest as she threatened to shoot me. Sadly, this type of trauma was the norm for my family.  After each incident, I just went about my business not thinking anything was wrong with my mother almost shooting me.

I held intense shame about my parents’ actions and our overall family dysfunction. Having friends over to play or hanging out was never an option.   Most holidays I kept to myself or went over to friend’s houses.  It was strange seeing “normal families” who loved each other and spent quality time together.

In my teenage years, I was considered a good looking guy and was successful at sports – which got me lots of female attention. For an insecure young man from a dysfunctional family, starving for love and affection, this was powerful stuff.

Young Love…and My First Abortion

In high school, I met a wonderful girl and fell into that intoxicating and immature love of youth. We soon began having pre-marital sex and faced an unplanned pregnancy.  We felt our parents would kill us and friends disown us.

The decision was made after a 20-minute conversation.  A friend of my girlfriend offered to drive her to the abortionist and the problem would go away.  We both agreed and I offered to pay for the procedure.

Two weeks later my girlfriend had the abortion. One evening, I called her house not knowing that her mother had learned about the procedure.  My girlfriend answered the phone and told me never to speak with her again or her mother would tell her father, and he would surely kill me.

I was so ashamed that her mother was aware of the abortion! Shame led to anxiety and depression.  I had no one to talk to and nowhere to turn. How do you tell your friends that you helped kill your own child?  Who can handle that type of drama?  As a result, I kept everything inside and eventually became numb.

 A Second Chance

In college, I met an amazing young woman and fell in love. We dated for one and a half years in a serious relationship.  As the relationship deepened, we began having unprotected pre-marital sex.

I remember experiencing joy when she told me of our pregnancy.  I felt God had forgiven me for the first abortion.  I told her how excited I was to be a father and that I would marry her.

Her response to the pregnancy:

“This is not going to happen!” We are not having this child!  I’m almost 12 weeks pregnant, and I am getting an abortion.”

I tried negotiating and offered many suggestions for solutions that would save the life of our child.  She had no interest in anything I had to suggest.  With my back against the wall, I offered to tell her family and the police that I got her drunk and raped her, thinking this might persuade her.  I was willing to lie and go to jail to save our child.

Being an adopted child, I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t consider placing the baby for adoption. She was usually the most loving, caring and a very spiritual person, and was from a loving family.

Now she seemed cold and calculated with no sense of empathy for the child or me. She explained that her parents would kill her, and her friends would disown her.  She offered me no other choice but to man up, drive her to the Planned Parenthood and pay for the abortion.  She called and set the appointment for the following week.

The time in between was hell for me. I slept very little and was an emotional mess.  While I hardly ever prayed to God, now I was praying and pleading for him to help me.

When the day came, I drove her to the center and paid for the abortion. I remember the long drive was in total silence.  After we parked the car, I begged her one last time not to have the abortion.  I remember holding her hands and sharing what was on my heart.  She kept saying no!

Back in the day, I knew very little about Planned Parenthood.  However, because the name was Planned Parenthood, I was hoping they would counsel us and help us reason things out.  Instead, I was directed to go to the back of the clinic to sign paperwork and pay.  A person dressed as a nurse asked us if we wanted to donate the body parts for research.  In my confused emotional state, I signed those evil forms.

I remember freaking out in my mind and panicking thinking this can’t be happening.  I wanted out!  I felt like crying but did not want to hurt my girlfriend.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs stop as she went into the room, but nothing that I had to say mattered.  As I sat there alone, my feelings went away, and I once again I became numb.

The Descent into Hell

When she came out of the procedure, I’ll never forget how she looked at me with such contempt and pain.   I was tortured after the procedure feeling I did not fight hard enough for my child‘s life.  This would exact a heavy toll on me in the days and years ahead.

I did not fully understand the powerful connection of abortion and my childhood wounds until I read a book by Kevin Burke called Tears of the Fisherman.

Kevin writes about men who experienced divorce, abuse and neglect as children and later have abortions:

“When men experience neglect, abuse and abandonment from their fathers this rejection leaves the child with the experience of being emotionally aborted.   A man who felt emotionally aborted as a child and later participates in the death of his unborn child magnifies an already deep and complex wound.  He has the experience of being both innocent victim of childhood abuse and later a perpetrator by participating in the abuse/death of his innocent unborn child (or victimized again by being powerless to prevent his child’s death.)  The abortion experience connects in a very toxic way with that wounded child resulting in deep rage, depression, anxiety and acting out this complicated grief in destructive and self-destructive ways.”

I suffered from major depression and attempted suicide after the first abortion. I tried overdosing on pain pills from a sports injury.  All I wanted to do was stop the pain, but no amount of pills would help me.  Over time, I developed delayed PTSD and OCD thinking about my lost children 24/7.

I had two vivid dreams in the aftermath of the abortions where I entered into a dark and empty cavern of despair. A felt the dreams were revealing my eternal destiny as a soul condemned to hell.  I saw God at that time as a stern judge who already sentenced me to hell, as I was beyond redemption.  I lost all hope and was filled with self-loathing for many years.  How could I kill two beautiful children and hurt two people that I dearly loved?

For years, I was unable to put words to feelings. If someone asked me how I was doing, I would say “I’m fine.”  Faking happiness one day at a time was my mantra.  I learned to trust no one, especially anyone who tried to get close to my heart.  The only feelings I had were anger, self-hatred, and a strong belief that God also hated me.  I suffered in silence too ashamed of myself to tell anyone about the abortions.

I tried filling the dark void by sleeping around with other women. However, nothing could fill the emptiness inside of me.  As time went on, my depression got worse, and I was fighting it daily and by the hour.  I felt this way for many years, unable put feelings to words.

I tried not to think about my aborted children because it was too painful.  The emotions were too strong to handle.  Seeing a pregnant woman or a newborn baby would depress me.  I was unable to go to children’s stores or baby section of a store without crying.  I developed irregular sleeping patterns frequently waking up in the calmness of dawn going into the living room to cry my eyes out grieving the loss of my two children.  I struggled with overcoming the numbness inside.

Stepping out of the Darkness – and Into the Light

I finally met a woman who came from a similar background of growing up in an alcoholic and abusive family. While she never had an abortion, she was open and honest and had a very traumatic childhood.  In previous relationships, I always stayed silent and avoided telling anyone about the abortions.  However, I took a leap of faith one night and shared my story.

She supported me with open arms.  We dated for three years before getting married.  I thought after marriage that I would feel better.  I tried counseling and medicine, my wife heard about a 12-step program designed to help people who grew up in an alcoholic family.  The turning point for healing was on the program where I learned about a “higher power.”  I remember going through the 12 steps having to make a list of people that I had harmed and became willing to make amends to them.  I finally got the courage to contact the mother’s of my aborted children and apologized.  They both apologized to me.

Learning to re-parent myself and take responsibility for my actions helped me break through the numbness to put words to feelings. As my self-esteem rose, I became a new person helping me heal from growing up in a dysfunctional family.  However, the program could not address the deep wounds abortion inflicted on my heart.

My wife and I decided to adopt a child that was in the foster care system and needed a home. This led to a very stressful period of court battles to relinquish parental rights.  The child came from an abusive home and was with us from the time he was a baby.

This experience brought me closer to God. I remember being on my knees at night pleading to God to keep our child if that was His will and best for our son.

Out of desperation, I began going to a local Catholic church. I was fearful of church and facing God.  But having lost two children to abortions and now fearing the loss of my adopted son, I had nowhere else to go.

Father Mike was a priest at our parish.  Something about this priest was genuine, real and trustworthy.  I couldn’t wait to hear his homily every week.  One homily had to do with Divine Mercy.  He shared that God loves the sinner, but not the sin.

After sitting with my arms crossed in the last row of the church every Sunday for about a year, it finally started to sink in that maybe God did not actually hate me.

I decided to visit Father Mike for confession and reconciliation. The appointment lasted for two hours.  I confessed all my sins including the abortions.  I cried like crazy the entire time fearful I’d be asked to leave the church because of my grave sins.

Much to my surprise just the opposite happened. Fr Mike was so loving and gentle. He made me feel safe at the most difficult time in my life.  There was no judgment or shame towards me.  He was empathetic to my suffering, and I was shocked – that he was not shocked hearing my story.

Fr Mike also explained that our church was full of sinners, not saints. I did my penance, and out of my old habit of stinking thinking, I waited for something bad to happen.

As time went on, just the opposite happened. I ended up teaching Sunday school, and I became a Eucharistic Minister. I served at masses and did rounds at our local hospital.  For the first time in my life, I began to trust God and the church.

Fr Mike helped me during the stressful period when my son’s adoption was in jeopardy. He taught me how to pray to God with an open heart asking only for his will for me and to pray for the best outcome for my son.  Thankfully our prayers were answered, and we were awarded full custody of our son.

Rachel’s Vineyard

Even though we were overjoyed with the adoption of my son, over the next few years the pain of the abortions would not go away. A counselor diagnosed me with depression.  My general practice doctor prescribed medication but with no real results.  No one knew how to help me with post-abortion grief.

It wasn’t until Fr Mike encouraged me to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat that I started truly healing.  At the program, I met the most amazing people including two loving Priests serving on the team.  I was able to share my story and fully participated in the program.  I named my children, and in the memorial service at the close of the weekend, I read a love letter I wrote to them.  I also named them; Marie and Jacob.

For the first time in my life, I was able to deal with the hurt, sorrow and pain in a loving way towards myself, my children and their mothers.  It was very helpful being around other people who understood my pain, and validated my suffering.  I also experienced God’s loving mercy and grace.

I left the Rachel’s Vineyard program feeling free of pain for the first time in my life. I attended several reunions with the team and other participants.

Unfortunately, my work moved me to another state. As time went on, the pain and anxiety over the second abortion began to emerge again. I called the Director of Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats in my area and shared my situation.  She suggested that I attend a second retreat to deal with unresolved grief and trauma from my second abortion.

Three months later I attended my second retreat that ended up being as equally beneficial as the first one. While the program was the same, I became completely open to God’s healing and mercy.  I met another man serving on team who lost a child to abortion and this made a huge difference for me.  We shared common experiences and really bonded during the program.

The Director of the program did an amazing job supporting and encouraging me to fully participate in the program to receive God’s mercy.  She modeled for me what a true representative of Christ is all about.  Later she called me to reach out to other men with abortion loss, and I became a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard Team.  We are planning on offering a men’s abortion group in addition to our Rachel’s Vineyard weekends.

For the past 6 years, I’ve been a regular member attending Catholic Church. Our pastor Father Rick is just overflowing with love for his flock.  He is truly a Christ-like man and an inspiration to me.  I am also involved with the pro-life team at the church.

God is now the driving force in my life. My goal in life today is to spread the word about Divine Mercy.  I had a very warped view for many years about God and that caused me great pain and anguish.  There is amazing healing to experience if you open up and trust God.

Fruits of Healing

The Catholic Church is going through a very painful process as the light of truth exposes some very dark and damaging acts of abuse, neglect and sexual immorality by some clergy and Bishops.   As a child who has suffered abuse and neglect, my heart breaks for all who have suffered at the hands of men consecrated to be servants of Christ Jesus.   This is truly an abomination that strikes at the heart of the Church’s mission.

Yet, while acknowledging this darkness, I must also witness to the fact that my story reflects the power of a holy priest like Father Mike to lead me from despair into the light of recovery and reconciliation with God. I have been blessed by the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist, and the ministry of Rachel’s Vineyard that brings the mercy and healing of Christ and His Church to women and men wounded by abortion.    I have been fortunate to experience the Church at her very best.

My wife and I later adopted our daughter from Ukraine. She is truly amazing and fills our heart with joy.

In three year, I also met my biological mother, two sisters, and two brothers. They are amazing people who love me.  Since both of my adoptive parents have passed away, I get a second chance at happiness with my new family.

I also want to recognize my biological mother Marilyn for being a hero to me. Even though she was going through a difficult time as an unwed mother with multiple children, she decided not to abort me.  As a result, she changed the lives of my adopted parents, friends and family.  I love you mom!!!

As you can probably tell, I am a staunch supporter of adoption. It’s a great alternative to abortion and a terrific way to build a family.

In Christ Jesus,


[Charles serves with the Rachel’s Vineyard ministry. He is also active in supporting several ministries for post-abortive women and men.  To find out more information about Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in your area please go to ]


Rivers of Blood: Understanding the Deeper Roots of the Rage and Hysteria of the Anti Kavanaugh Protestors

October 10th, 2018

By Kevin Burke, LSW

In a New York Times op-ed Democratic Strategist Alexis Grenell writes:

“After a confirmation process where women all but slit their wrists, letting their stories of sexual trauma run like rivers of blood through the Capitol, the Senate still voted to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

Grenell tosses a feminist grenade at those women who, out of a concern for the men they love, supported Kavanaugh:

“These women are gender traitors…the people who scare me the most are the mothers, sisters and wives because my stupid uterus still holds out some insane hope of solidarity…”

On Saturday, as Judge Kavanaugh was taking his oath to serve on the Supreme Court, a largely female contingent of protesters broke through a police line to the Court’s chamber. They stood before the large chamber doors screaming, pounding and clawing at the doors trying to enter the chamber and disrupt the confirmation process.

Regardless of your political loyalties, we all know what this confirmation hearing was really about…abortion.

But it’s not just the normal political and ideological conflicts that rage about the issue of “reproductive rights.”  We need to dig deeper.

Sexual abuse and abortion loss are two volatile experiences of trauma and complicated grief that are exploited by some liberal politicians and radical social movements.

Women and men with trauma in their history (physical/sexual abuse, divorce, abortion loss etc.), without an emotional and spiritual healing of their trauma, are vulnerable to directing their powerful feelings of anger and pain into radical social activism.

Complex Grief and Pro Abortion Activism

After an abortion some women turn to pro abortion activism as a way to validate their choice and re-direct the powerful emotional energy arising from this loss.

Some of the key pioneers of “reproductive rights,” such as Kate Michelman who served for many years as the director of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and feminist Gloria Steinem, zealously promoted abortion rights after their personal abortions.

Abortion, regardless of the circumstances, is a complex experience of loss. Abortion severs a perfectly natural and intimate physiological and emotional relationship between a woman and her developing child.

The powerful emotions generated from the abortion event can be successfully repressed for many years as women and men focus on educational and career pursuits.  [i]

Others divert any abortion related grief and pain, and validate their own abortion decision, by “empowering” other women to make the same “choice” as they did.

Sarah Weddington, the attorney representing the Jane Roe in the 1973 Roe V Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, travelled to Mexico to abort her unborn child in the fall of 1967.

Norma McCorvey, (the Jane Roe of Roe V Wade) shared in a radio interview  about her lunch meeting with Sarah Weddington in 1970. Sarah was trying to convince Norma to be a plaintiff in the case.  Norma already had 2 children and a failed marriage, with a family history of abuse and addiction.  This meeting between Sarah Weddington and Norma McCorvey was held on the anniversary of Sarah’s abortion in Mexico.

Men can also find an outlet for their painful feelings arising from participating in the death of their unborn child, by promoting abortion rights.

Consider that a key strategist in the plan to legalize abortion in the U.S., Dr Bernard Nathanson, was himself the father of an aborted child, and experienced a painful relationship with his own father.

The late Dr Nathanson’ denial, and sick mastery of his own abortion related grief, led him to preside as medical director of an abortion center in over 60,000 abortions, including an abortion procedure he performed  on his own unborn child.   (You can read more about Dr Nathanson’s amazing life story in my article “The Sins of the Father.”)

Leslie Blackwell of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign shares about her pro-choice activism after an abortion:

“I discovered I was pregnant and I had just landed my dream job as a TV Talk Show Host.  A roommate drove me to an abortion clinic in Greensboro, N.C. After graduation, I threw myself into the new job creating a façade of the perfect young career girl who had it all together … drinking, drugging and sleeping around … self destructing. Trying to validate my choices, I became a strong pro-abortion supporter and at times militant with anyone who didn’t agree with my opinion.” [My emphasis]

Tripping Over the Truth

When Democratic Strategist Alexis Grenell writes of rivers of blood running through the Capitol, her “stupid uterus,” and pro abortion radicals weaponize sexual abuse, they are unwittingly tripping over the truth.

The abortion procedure is often experienced by women with past sexual trauma as a type of re-enactment of that abuse.  The abortion procedure and sexual abuse are an intimate and very painful violation of a woman’s body, mind and spirit. [ii]

It is shameful how the left exploits the trauma of sexual abuse victims and the repressed grief of women who experienced abortion loss.  The political circus during the Kavanaugh hearings, and the rage and pain that fed this debacle provided a very volatile and useful cover for the real agenda, which is all about protecting legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

Rivers of Blood

Yes Alexis Grenell, there is a river of blood running through our nation’s Capitol and across our nation.

It’s the blood of close to 60 million unborn boys and girls aborted since 1973. This blood mingles with the tears of those that participated in the death of these innocent preborn children.

It is time to elect leaders that will not weaponize the intimate pain of women and men to advance agendas that breed more traumas, more rage and grief.

Let us turn away from the revolutionary violence and chaos being fomented by these wounded and misguided radicals.

Instead let us in humility acknowledge that we are a deeply wounded nation in need of repentance, healing and the peace that can only come from the Creator of life.

[i] There are still symptoms of this complicated grief present but usually not consciously connected to the abortion event; e.g., the abuse of substances, sex, or over involvement in work/school to self-medicate the pain.

[ii] PTSD or trauma symptoms after reproductive trauma: Seng and colleagues (2009) found that 20% of pregnant women from eight U.S. clinics had posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women were asked to identify the single worst trauma they had ever experienced, considering five types of traumatic events.  The two types of trauma most frequently identified as their “worst” were past abuse and reproductive trauma. Miscarriage and abortion were specifically identified as reproductive losses that for many women were their “worst” trauma ever.  –From Recovery After Abortion, Martha Shuping, M.D., M.A., Ashford Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Inc.


A Terrifying Vision In July 1917 Was a Prophetic Warning – And a Roadmap for Renewal in the Church Today

August 26th, 2018

July 13 2018 was the 101st anniversary of the 3rd apparition of the Blessed Mother to the shepherd children of Fatima in 1917.  This particular apparition was deeply disturbing, and would have a lasting influence on seers Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

Lucia writes in her memoirs of the apparition of July 13, 1917:

“As Our Lady…opened her hands…rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form…floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves…without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear…”

The vision of hell had a profound impact on little Jacinta. Sr Lucia shares:

“The vision of hell filled [Jacinta] with horror to such a degree, that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.”

After the apparitions ended, Jacinta’s final journey featured excruciating physical and emotional pain.   In one of her visits to see Jacinta in the hospital, Lucia asked her dear friend:

“Do you suffer much?”

“Yes, I do suffer; but I offer everything for sinners and to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Now More than Ever – The Church Needs Saint Jacinta

The vocation of Jacinta cannot be understood apart from the profound and life-changing encounters with the Angels and the Blessed Mother at Fatima.

Lucia describes the supernatural power of those angelic apparitions that preceded the appearances of the Blessed Mother. The Angel led the children to an encounter with the fearsome majesty of God:

“[The Angel] left us in an atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a long time unaware of our own existence…we could not speak…our souls were completely immersed in God…The force of the presence of God was so intense that it absorbed us and almost completely annihilated us…the peace and happiness which we felt were great……On the next day, too, this same atmosphere held us bound, and it lessened and disappeared only gradually.”

Lucia goes on to share how this angelic apparition left an indelible imprint on their minds as he asked the children to “make everything a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which is offended…and for the conversion of sinners.”

All Hell was Breaking Lose

It is important to understand the events of Fatima in the context of that tumultuous historical period.

In 1917 Europe was still experiencing the devastation of the First World War. The seeds of massive rebellion against God, of future war, genocide and famine were being nurtured and planted by sinful men. These seeds would bear their toxic fruit in the rise of Nazism in Germany and Communism the former Soviet Union, the outbreak of a Second World War, and the Cold War that followed.

The Fatima apparitions ended in October 1917 with the greatest public miracle since the resurrection of Christ – the Miracle of the Sun, seen by over 70,000 people.

The Blessed Mother was doing everything possible to call the human family, and the Church to face the grave threats on the horizon, and to repentance and conversion.

Fatima Today

Thanks be to God the Soviet Union and the world were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984 by John Paul II, as requested by our Lady of Fatima. Widespread world war and catastrophic nuclear conflict between superpowers has, for now, been averted.

The Orthodox and Catholic churches in Russia and the former Soviet Bloc can once again welcome the faithful as the nations ravaged by communism struggle to spiritually recover after years of persecution.

But we would be very wrong to thing that Fatima is a message set in the past with no relevance to today. The dark spiritual, political and philosophical forces unleashed during that time continue to impact the world and the Church, and compromise her mission.

In a previous blog I shared how the ongoing abortion holocaust has deep roots in communist Russia:

“…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]” (Geoffrey Strickland, J.D., J.C.L., Rome Office Director for Priests for Life)

Frogs in the Pot

Because we are immersed in this world, we can become blind to how we are gradually compromising with “the world.” How our lifestyles, entertainment, and moral choices are eating away at our faith.  This is as true for Cardinals and Bishops as it is for you and me.

If we were to be immersed in God’s presence, as described by Sr Lucia, and see ourselves in the annihilating light of God – would this be an overwhelming experience of joy and peace as it was for the children?

Or would it make us repel in horror and pain as we see the true impoverished state of our souls.

Could that pain lead us to cling to our sin, and choose eternal separation from God, rejecting his salvation?

This all sounds crazy to modern ears. And that is part of the seduction of the evil one.

We do not understand there is a battle raging outside of our awareness, outside of time, to create spiritual blindness, promote a virulent spiritual pride, and the worship of false idols, that leaves us at risk of rejecting the true God we will encounter at our death.

The vision of hell at Fatima was not shared to overwhelm us with anxiety and fear of damnation.  The Blessed Mother showed the children hell because of her great love for us and to inspire us to embrace sacrifice and mortification to save sinners.

And it remains an important message for you and me today – to impress upon us that there are grave threats to our eternal salvation – and move us to a radical re-orientation of our lives.

A Return to Spiritual Basics

The children of Fatima, and especially Jacinta, revealed the mystical power of sacrificial suffering. This is not suffering rooted in self-hatred or psychological disorder.  This is not the suffering inflicted on innocent, vulnerable children and young adults by manipulative, abusive men and women.

Rather, this is a free act of charity and love for those “in most need of God’s mercy.” It arose from the children’s intimate encounters with the awesome majesty of God, the eternal joys of heaven, and the horrifying reality of eternal damnation.

It is a love that flows from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ – a love that flows from the very heart of our Savior.

If our Church, its leaders, and laity are to follow the example of Saint Jacinta, then we must also pray in deep humility that the Spirit reveal to us anew the awesome and fearsome majesty of God. Our prayer, and especially our liturgical worship, must lead us to this powerful encounter with the Blessed Trinity.

Once again Lucia’s words remind us of the spiritual power of the Eucharist present in the tabernacles and consecrated on the altars of the Catholic Church around the world. Hidden in the forms of bread and wine is the same majestic power of God that was mediated through the angelic apparitions of Fatima:

“[The Angel] left us in an atmosphere of the supernatural that was so intense we were for a long time unaware of our own existence. The presence of God was so powerful and intimate that even among ourselves we could not speak.”

From this profound encounter with the Blessed Trinity may we experience as a Church a renewed awareness of the grave threat that sin poses to our salvation and a healthy fear of eternal damnation – but more a hatred of sin because it offends our Heavenly Father, who is all good and deserving of our worship and our love.

It is past time for Church leaders and the faithful to re-discover the spiritual benefits of daily rosary, and introduce special days of fasting and sacrifice – not just during Lent – but throughout the year. Days of fasting from technology, entertainment, meat, etc.

We are in need of priests and laity that can help us make an intimate re-connection with the apparitions of Fatima, a healthy theology of sacrifice, mortification and reparation, and the spirituality of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I believe knowledge of the latest scientific research and forensic information revealed in the Shroud of Turin, could be an important partner with the apparitions of Fatima in the reform and renewal of the Church. The horrific torture of Jesus revealed in the Shroud of Turin, can also be a sign of solidarity and hope for those who have been so intimately wounded by the abominable abuse, and the perpetration of abuse, by men called to be pastors and shepherds of souls.

We pray for a Church that is in the world – but not of the world.

A Church that is a bright beacon of light for the salvation of the nations.

Saint Jacinta, pray for us!



The Elephant in the Examination Room: Why Are Medical Professionals Reluctant to Talk to Women About this Common Medical Procedure?

July 19th, 2018


By Lauren Kretzer

Seeing a new medical provider means you get handed the brown clip board from the receptionist with that tedious multi-page “new patient form.”

Some questions are quite detailed and frankly, embarrassing.

Others may make us squirm in our seats; e.g., weight, smoking, daily wine intake, etc.

But if you are like me, there is one question that hit me harder than any other; HAVE YOU EVER BEEN PREGNANT?

As someone who experienced abortion, and was unable to conceive as a result of complications from the procedure, the answer had ALWAYS been, “No”.

I didn’t think about it.

I didn’t agonize over it.

I simply answered, “No”.

This is the denial that marks the daily lives of millions of women and men touched by abortion.

Until someone breaks through that blindness and sheds some light on how abortion may have hurt you, and the good news of spiritual and emotional healing, you remain in the darkness.

I learned about an abortion recovery program, Rachel’s Vineyard, and made my retreat in March, 2013.  The program gently allowed me to lower my denial defenses built up over many years.  The experience cleansed the gaping spiritual and emotional wounds left from participating in the death of my unborn children.

This Doctor’s Visit…Is Going to Be Different

Fast forward to 2017. I went to see my primary care physician.  Her medical practice is part of the Abington Hospital network.  Because Abington Hospital provides abortion services, I was in conflict about continuing with my current doctor.

But I have been with this doctor for over 15 years and did not want to be hasty making the switch.   And I have always felt very comfortable with her.

Since that Rachel’s Vineyard weekend in 2013 I have grown stronger spiritually and emotionally.  In 2017 I became part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.  The Campaign has connected me with a network of other women and men called to share about their abortion loss and recovery.

Coming out of that foundation of healing and peace I decided that this medical appointment was going to be different.

This was going to be an honest encounter where I was going to share my “complete” medical history.

In my evaluation with the doctor she asked if I had any questions.

I told her, “There is something very important in my medical history that should be added to my records.”

I began to tell her about my abortions and some of the common emotional and physical complications many women suffer after the procedure.

She looked at me with compassion, but did appear a bit taken aback. The doctor agreed to add it to my records.  I was pleased when she told me, “In the future, if a patient shares with me a history of abortion, I will be sure to ask them how they are doing emotionally.”

I shared some pamphlets and contact info with the doctor for anyone looking for emotional and spiritual recovery for their abortion loss.

I spend the next couple of days praying for this physician, that her heart and mind would open up to the physical and emotional damage many women suffer after abortion.

“How Many Children Do You Have?”

Now here we are a year later and time for my annual check-up.

This time I did not see my regular doctor. Instead, I saw a nurse practitioner, Susan.

Susan pulls out her lap top and begins to ask me a bunch of questions. It is clear she is using a very detailed but standard questionnaire for physicals.

She even asked me if I ever smoked. When I told her, “yes as a stupid teenager” she went on to ask me how much I smoked – and the ages I started and quit.  That was over 40 years ago!

Another question. Have you ever had surgeries?

I am thinking major with general anesthesia…so I answered no.   Then she said any surgeries?  Wisdom teeth?  Yes, I had my wisdom teeth out (30 years ago).

I then told her, “Susan, there are also two surgeries that I had that should be in the records. I had two abortions.”

This revelation clearly shook her up as she fumbled at the lap top.  She was very quick to respond, “No I do not see them…they do not need to be in the records.”

I replied “I had requested them to be there.”

Avoiding any eye contact, she went on to the next question on her form.

Much to my surprise, a minute later came the question…are you ready for this?

How many children do you have?

I told her that I lost two children to abortion and that the reason why I do not have living children today is very likely due to the physical damage caused by those abortions.

For a second, she looked angry, annoyed, and horrified at the same time.

But being professional, she composed herself and said, “We don’t need that information.” She then went on to the next question.

I left there feeling sad and angry because when it comes to abortion, the “right to choose” takes precedence over “the right to complete, accurate medical information and care.”

Abortion is looked at as some medical “non-event.”

Yet it is a life-changing experience, and certainly a medically significant part of the medical history of millions of women.

I thought about that nurse practitioner, Susan, as I processed our encounter in the days after my appointment.

Perhaps her reaction comes out of her personal history.   It is quite possible, given her role at Abington hospital, an abortion provider, that she may have helped in some way to facilitate the death of unborn children.

It is possible a family member, even her daughter had one. Or maybe she herself had lost a child to abortion, and what I shared touched that sensitive wound in her heart.

I am grateful for my journey to recovery and connecting with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. This equipped and empowered me to find my voice, and share the truth about my abortion losses.  It has empowered me and many other women to openly share our experiences, bringing light to the darkness, even behind the closed doors of the doctor’s examination room.


Let That Light Shine! 10 Ways to Promote Your Abortion Recovery Ministry

July 6th, 2018


By Susan Swander and Kevin Burke, LSW

  1. Meet with your Pastor/Minister

Contact the pastor or another minister active in your church. This kind of personal connection is important.  You or someone on your team can share about a past abortion, faith related struggles after the procedure, and how abortion recovery was such a blessing.

Most pastors are not sure how to address the issue of abortion. Some fear hurting or alienating those that had the procedure.  Your personal sharing will be a valuable education about the issues women and men struggle with after the procedure.  It can also open the door to a ministry partnership as you assist the pastor in reaching out to those in the congregation hurting after abortion.

2. Notices in Church Bulletins

Susan shares: “In the fall of 2003, I saw a small box ad in the local Church bulletin. It said something about healing for women and men who had abortions – and it referred to a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend in our area.  It gave a website and phone number. The website really spoke to me and I registered for one of their weekend programs.”

3. Testimony During Church Services

Susan: “I had such a powerful experience of emotional and spiritual healing from the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend I attended. After careful discernment, I felt called to share my story.  I have shared my testimony of pain and hope at a number of churches throughout Oregon.  I have been moved by how many fellow church-goers also suffer after abortion, or know someone who does.”

4. Create an uncluttered, engaging, easy to navigate website so people can learn about your ministry. Donors are often interested in helping out with such a project and a tech savvy person from your church community could assist with set up.

5. Connect with the local Christian radio stations in your area – and some national shows as well. Let them know you have women and men who can share about abortion loss and recovery – this is especially helpful around the time of the March for Life, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and for Catholic Christians in the month of October (Respect Life Month) when media are more open to our message.

6. Social Media   Cultivate a current team member, volunteer, or alum from your abortion recovery ministry to help develop a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once you get the hang of it this is an effective way to create brief messages and images to promote recovery resources and share about your ministry.

7. Tear-off flyers on church bulletin boards, pamphlets and drop cards that provide info on your website and contact number.

8. Contact your local churches, seminaries, and catholic/Christian educational institutions. Let them know you are available to share with their students and ministers-in-training about abortion loss, the ways this can impact women and men, and the road to recovery. This is a great way to help them better understand and reach out to their future congregations.

9. Connect with the campus ministry and pro-life groups at secular colleges in your area and offer to come share your testimony with the students, how to best reach out to abortion minded students based on your experience, and resources for recovery for those that had abortions.

10. Planting Seeds, Support, and Networking

Come together regularly as a team and pray for God’s Spirit to give you wisdom, discernment and patience. Consider becoming part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and find women and men in your area who are called to speak out about abortion loss and recovery.   This is a great way to find support and network with others in your area and nationally that share a heart for this outreach.

Keep in mind that people often need to hear messages about abortion loss and recovery multiple times before they are ready to take that next step, and reach out for help. It can be years before that seed you planted bears fruit.