"In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping.
Rachel mourns her children.
She refuses to be consoled because her children are no more.
Thus says the LORD;
Cease your cries of mourning; wipe those tears from your eyes.
The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward.
There is hope for your future."
The Catholic pro-life movement has a deep concern for those who bear the psychological scars that often result from an abortion. A number of post-abortion programs are available through pregnancy centers, churches and independent post-abortion ministries. The Rachel's Vineyard Retreat is one such program. This weekend retreat is designed to give women (and occasionally men) suffering from abortion a time for mourning, healing and rejoicing.
Participants are invited to meet Christ in a Vineyard. A Vineyard is regarded as a safe place to share one's story. The storyteller (participant) is free to express her anger, grief and pain. Those who work on these retreats in various places note that the stories often have common elements, but are at the same time profoundly unique. In the "vineyard" women are able to safely share the burdens of the past. Many find such a retreat to be the first safe opportunity they have ever had to share their story with another person. Participants learn that they no longer need to be alone. They are able to join others on the road to healing and a new life.
The retreat begins on a Friday night and lasts until Sunday evening, giving the participants ample opportunity to meet with our Lord. The atmosphere is warm and loving, and protecting the confidentiality of participants is the highest of priorities.
One recent participant noted that many women left the weekend experience much healed. The change could be seen in their countenances. People who arrived angry and guarded left lighter, smiling. Women who arrived feeling betrayed and abandoned left secure in the love of the Lord. The transformation was amazing -- and hard to describe. She writes:
"We left with a sense of closure. Our past abortions are no longer the monster waiting in the shadows to spring out, seize us unaware and drag us into the darkness. In the Vineyard, our abortions lost their power over us. We left the Vineyard, if not completely free of pain and regret, then well along the path of healing and, most importantly, living in a deeper relationship with the Lord."
The Rachel's Vineyard retreat is coming to Juneau Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. For more information contact Mary Horton at 586-2227, ext. 36, or Cathy Cuenin at email@example.com. A complete listing of other retreat dates and locations is available from the national office of Rachel's Vineyard at (877) HOPE-4ME or www.rachelsvineyard.org.
Rev. Michael Nash is the pastor of the Cathedral of the Nativity in Juneau.