Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Vicky Franchino, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Next Rachel's Vineyard Retreat

The next Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Madison is October 19 to 21.

The retreat is open to anyone whose life has been touched by abortion.

For questions about the Madison program, call 608-821-3177, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or contact the facilitator, Mary Mead, at 608-221-9593 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

While Rachel’s Vineyard has a strong foundation in Catholicism, people of all faiths are welcome.

MADISON -- Anne was a sophomore in college. Naïve about sex, she thought she was in love. But when she learned she was pregnant, there was no talk of a future together. Instead, her boyfriend coerced her into having an abortion and Anne went along with a “choice” that seemed largely out of her control.

After her abortion, all Lisa felt was relief. She was unmarried and the pregnancy was unplanned and unwelcome. Lisa didn’t want to let her family down, and, after all, wasn’t it just a mass of cells?

These abortion journeys might have started from a different place, but the long-term impact was strikingly similar.

Years of pain and shame

Although Anne and Lisa tried to move past the trauma of their abortions, neither was successful.

Lisa had a failed marriage followed by a series of painful relationships. She never felt herself worthy of any kind of success and continued to be haunted by a deep and lingering sense of shame and unworthiness.

Anne distracted herself from her pain, first with alcohol and later through denial. “The pain was so deep that I did not allow it to surface for many years.”

And women aren’t the only ones who suffer. “I struggled alone for years with the guilt, shame, and remorse of my involvement in the decision to abort our child when my girlfriend became pregnant,” said Roger. “I felt that I had hurt my girlfriend so badly that all women would despise me if they knew what I had done.”

Luckily, each of these people discovered something that would help set their lives back on a path to God and peace.

A glimmer of hope

“I began to realize that the abortion was a recurring issue that surfaced often as a source of grief in my life,” Lisa said. “I found a book (Forbidden Grief by Theresa Burke) and there was a reference to Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats.”

Anne heard about the retreats on Relevant Radio. “I tuned it out at first because it hit such a painful nerve. But after hearing about Rachel’s Vineyard so many times, I realized that I had to learn more.”

Offered since 1995, Rachel’s Vineyard gives those struggling with the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion the opportunity to uncover and address their anger, shame, guilt, and grief.

The retreat was started by Theresa Burke, PhD, and Kevin Burke, LSW — both of whom have extensive backgrounds in counseling — and has helped thousands of women and men to heal from the pain of abortion. The Rachel’s Vineyard retreat model has been used in 48 states, 35 countries, and is offered in 15 languages.

The healing begins

Taking the first step is difficult and most retreatants felt reluctant and anxious about coming to Rachel’s Vineyard.

“I was full of fear,” Lisa remembered. “What I found instead were people who supported me and made me feel safe — a place of healing and forgiveness where people could identify with my sorrow and pain.”

“The understanding and acceptance I found at the retreat helped me to move further in forgiving myself and helped me to love others in my life in a deeper way,” Roger said.

“The retreat freed me,” Anne said. “Please don’t be afraid to come and join the sunlight.”

To learn more about Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, visit or

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