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This is a most tender subject. And chances are good that many people — both women and men — in our pews may have suffered in silence over an abortion. As a women’s retreat leader, I have found that when I give retreats, it is always helpful to have an additional list of upcoming retreats that deal with this sensitive issue. For when we start to peel back the layers to let God into our hearts more, there’s no telling where it will lead. When a retreat experience opens a person up to Christ, very often it also opens them up to face their deepest wounds.
Let me share three powerful and trustworthy apostolates that specialize in this very important outreach of engaging adults who have suffered acute losses due to abortion. All three employ the sacraments, sensitive leadership and support teams, and confidentiality.
Sisters of Life
From the Sisters of Life website:
“Go, pick up the pieces lest they be lost” (John 6:12). With these words, John Cardinal O’Connor directed the Sisters of Life to a ministry of reconciliation and reverence for women and men who suffer following the tragedy of abortion. Since 1996, we have heeded that call … to develop a work of retreats and accompaniment. We have met countless men and women on their journey of healing. There are still millions who, too often, suffer the spiritual and emotional effects of abortion silently and alone.
We were not made to be alone. Standing in solidarity with those who are suffering, the Sisters journey with women through accompaniment and retreats. … Many who are suffering alone experience great peace and healing as they are able to share their burdens with another. The Sisters are available to meet with women individually in person or over the phone as they walk through the journey of healing. Accompaniment may be a single phone call or ongoing meetings and conversations.
The Sisters host monthly Days of Prayer and Healing, monthly Gatherings, and Hope and Healing Weekend Retreats. These events are opportunities to experience the loving mercy of God in a safe and sacred space.
■ Get more details at SistersOfLife.org/hope-and-healing-after-abortion.
■ Phone: 866-575-0075
From the Rachel’s Vineyard website:
Rachel’s Vineyard is a safe place to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. Weekend retreats offer you a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can express, release, and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal, and healing.
Project Rachel has individual chapters all over the United States. They, too, offer single-day
events, retreats, and more.
■ Go to HopeAfterAbortion.com. This website is also available in Spanish.
■ Phone: Toll-free national help line — 888-456-HOPE.
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), 99
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong.
But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what
happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
– St. John Paul II
Pat Gohn is the editor of Catechist magazine and Catechist.com.
This article originally appeared in Catechist magazine, January 2019