A journey of faith and new learnings


By Jeanette Reid, Catholic Outlook, October 2011


“You can’t change your past but you can change your future.” Sometimes in life we are on a journey not knowing what we will encounter, whether it will be confronting, and what we will learn to share with others. In July this year, I had such a journey.  

With the support of CatholicCare Parramatta, I attended Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in the US. The theme of the conference was: ‘Disciples of Love, Witnesses of Hope.’ 

My role with CatholicCare Parramatta is as manager of Project Elizabeth, a family and community support service that provides a comprehensive pregnancy and counselling service for women.  Knowing how important it is to be there for those in need, we work collaboratively with Rachel’s Vineyard to promote a healing journey. 

The Malvern Retreat Centre was on several acres with babbling brooks and trails that wound down a valley to a grotto, which replicated the cave in France where St Bernadette saw our Lady of Lourdes.  

The conference brought together more than 200 delegates from various parts of the world, including seven from Australia. Many of the participants were priests and religious. Others were from other faiths and different life journeys.  

We were all present to learn more that would enable us to further serve those suffering from grief, loss and guilt around the procedure of abortion. 

The keynote address was presented by Fr Frank Pavone, one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world and an inspirational speaker. Fr Pavone was asked by the Vatican to help co-ordinate post-abortion healing as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family.  

From the very first session you could feel the atmosphere change, and be changed with witnesses of hope.

Participating in the sessions given by Therese Burke was deeply confronting and emotional, as she helped us to imagine walking in the shoes of those who have participated in a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat.

Therese lectures internationally and trains professionals on the subject of post-abortion trauma and healing. Research has linked trauma and the brain and how it feels from abortion.  Medical research analyst Eve Silver Sanchez presented further research linking breast cancer and abortion.  

Other sessions focussed on the role of men in the abortion decision/experience and its impact on them. Far too often fathers of aborted children are seen as having negative reactions to their involvement. 

Abortion procedures impact on the lives of many people. For some it can be the loss of their only grandchild and the hidden taboo of not talking about it. 

Many people go to their graves without closure and many live in fear of others finding out. For some it is the feeling of despair when agreeing to a medical termination – did we do the wrong thing, make a wrong decision? After all, the doctors could have been wrong. 

It is important that those in need are encouraged to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Healing Retreat and, hopefully, take that step towards healing. The next retreat is from 18-20 November at the Mount St Benedict Centre in Pennant Hills. 

For more information or to make a booking ring Rachel’s Vineyard and leave a message on the confidential voicemail (02) 9440 7980 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting or email the confidential address info@rachelsvineyard.org.au 

May God Bless and encourage all those who labour in Rachel’s Vineyard to bring divine mercy to those in most need. 

Project Elizabeth is a family and community support service for women provided by CatholicCare Parramatta, which offers outreach services through home visits and hospital visits. 

The service assists women to reduce the risk of having physical and emotional problems caused by lack of support before, during and in the months following the birth of their children. 

For issues relating to pregnancy, which may include extended family, past issues that recur, someone to listen or refer on, you are welcome to contact Project Elizabeth, tel (02) 4721 5331 or click on ‘Services & Programs’ at: www.ccss.org.au  

« Return to news list