The Archdiocese of St. Louis is expanding its Abortion Healing Ministry through the addition of Rachel’s Vineyard, an intensive weekend retreat.
The retreat is open to women, men and couples, and will take place Nov. 13-15. The program expands upon the existing Project Rachel and Project Joseph programs, both of which provide healing to women and men affected by an abortion. Rachel’s Vineyard also offers up to six weeks of follow-up care after the retreat. A separate Bible study is offered to anyone who has participated in Rachel’s Vineyard, Project Rachel or Project Joseph.
This is the first time a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is being offered in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The program was founded in the mid-1990s by Catholic psychologist Theresa Burke, and the retreat model features a trained team, including a priest and professional therapist, and leads participants “through the critical steps of healing after abortion and helping them encounter the merciful love of Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician,” wrote Cynthia Haehnel, Respect Life Apostolate director, in a letter to pastors in September.
Rachel’s Vineyard is considered the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion, and to date has helped more than 320,000 women and men globally since its founding. Rachel’s Vineyard is currently offered in 49 states, 70 countries and 15 languages. The ministry was endorsed by St. Teresa of Kolkata and holds an imprimatur from Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia and former St. Louis archbishop.
The ministry will complement the existing Project Rachel and Project Joseph, said Haehnel, both of which offer healing and hope to women and men wounded by abortion. The ministries offer a monthly spiritual support group, monthly Bible study, referrals to spiritual directors and priests, and a day of reflection twice a year.
Sister Marysia Weber, RSM, who with Haehnel is co-facilitating Rachel’s Vineyard in St. Louis, said that the expansion of the archdiocese’s ministry to post-abortive men and women will help even more people to experience God’s healing mercy. Sister Marysia, a physician and board-certified psychiatrist, said that Rachel’s Vineyard retreats use creative “Living Scripture Exercises” coupled with therapeutic facilitation and discussion, group activities, prayer and opportunities to celebrate the sacraments. The retreat is open to people of all faiths.
The Respect Life Apostolate also is partnering with the archdiocesan Catholic Renewal Center to provide ongoing spiritual direction to post-abortive men and women.
“We know there’s no one path to healing,” said Mary Varni, Respect Life Apostolate senior program manager. “Every individual who has been wounded by abortion has a different healing journey. We wanted to have as many avenues to bring people to healing as possible. And the other goal is to evangelize. We want to bring them back to wholeness and health and to God.”
>> Rachel’s Vineyard retreat
WHEN: Nov. 13-15 in St. Louis (location is kept confidential to participants)
COST: $50 per person, which includes two night’s lodging, all meals and materials.
MORE INFO: Register by Nov. 6. For more information, call (314) 792-7565, text (314) 778-0628 or email stlprojectrache[email protected]. All information and inquiries are kept confidential.
>> Respect Life Convention
The 44th annual Respect Life Convention will take place Sunday, Oct. 18, as a livestreamed event, broadcast live from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in St. Louis. The convention will begin at 10 a.m. and will include prayer, speakers, awards and presentations from Walking With Moms in Need ministry partners. Communications professional Elizabeth Westhoff will serve as the event’s emcee. Presenters include:
Auxiliary Bishop Mark S. Rivituso
David Bereit, founder of 40 Days for Life
Dr. James Sherley, Charlotte Lozier Institute & Asymmetrex LLC
Dr. Patrick Yeung, Saint Louis University and Catholic Medical Association
Cynthia Haehnel, Respect Life Apostolate director
Sister Sue Ann Hall and Sister Delores Vogt, Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent
The convention also includes a complimentary teen track, which will be recorded and made available to archdiocesan parish youth groups and schools in early October. Presentations will be made by Jacinta Florence, regional coordinator, Students for Life of America; and Brian Westbrook, executive director, Coalition for Life St. Louis.
Deadline to register is Oct. 14. Registration, pricing, sponsorship opportunities, limited live-seating options, video challenge contest, and other details are available at prolifestl.regfox.com/2020-respect-life-convention
For questions or online registration help, email [email protected] or call (314) 792-7555.