Are you searching for forgiveness and peace?
Whether it’s been one year or 20 years, you need time to grieve your loss and reflect on your feelings of sorrow and regret. Project Rachel is here to help you do that in a supportive and confidential environment. We are here to listen to you and help you through your pain.
Project Rachel offers:
- Complete confidentiality
- A chance to share your grief in a safe atmosphere of acceptance and trust
- Referrals to priests or professional counselors
- Forgiveness, healing, and peace through Rachel’s Vineyard Healing Retreats
As a program of Catholic Community Services, Project Rachel welcomes people of all faiths, and is not for women only.
Many women experience trauma after an abortion. Some of these manifestations include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Feelings of helplessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Low self-esteem
- Self-destructive behavior
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Nightmares/sleep anxieties
- Anniversary reactions
- Anger at others involved
- Anger at God and Church
- Sexual problems
- Broken relationships
- Intense interest in babies
- No joy in another’s pregnancy
These are common reactions for those who have had abortions, but you may think that no one else who has had an abortion feels this way.
You are not alone. Come, and discover a path to healing.
In Praise of the Rachel’s Vineyard Healing Retreat
Testimonies from Past Retreats
“Most meaningful was receiving the hidden need I didn’t know I had: Jesus!”
“My life has improved in all areas. I feel that I will be a better mother, wife, daughter, friend and my relationship with God has been awakened. I am reborn.”
“This retreat was perfect for me! Thank you all for your love and guidance.”
“My heart is more open. I can see some of the old me that has been dying to get out!”
“People need to know about this program! I like myself more, I respect the body God gave me, and emotionally, I have relief from the heavy burden of guilt.”
“I feel healed in my soul, emotions and the burden of shame gone from my life.”
“Transforming! I came hurting, along with everyone else, and through the wonderful guiding hands of the retreat leaders we all showed the amazing grace of healing.”
Testimonios del Retiro Español, 2019
“Todo muy bien. De bendición. Para todas las personas que vieren a vivirlo. Yo tenia mucho gozo de poder venir. Pude ver al amor de Dios cuando nos atendieron.”
“Que nos tratan como familia y nos dejan expresar todo lo que traemos y queremos dejar y nos eschuchan.”
“Fue encontrarme con hermanitas que sufre igual que yo, y ver vuanto dolor hay en otras personas.”
“Su inmensa entrega de servicio de cada uno de ustedes…
For more testimonials from past retreats, click here.
At the age of 27, I was initially happy with the news of my pregnancy. I had not even considered abortion to be an option until the baby’s father suggested it. Then I became increasingly unsure, doubtful and scared. I went through with the abortion because I was somehow convinced it would be for the best. It was not.
On a cold winter day, I walked into the abortion clinic with the baby’s dad. When I was called back, he stayed in the waiting room playing video games. After my anesthesia, tears began silently rolling down my cheeks. Subconsciously I knew I was making the wrong decision.
Later that night the reality of what I had done hit me full force. It hit me with so much intensity, clarity, and pain, I could not take it. I fell to the ground. I could not take it back. I wanted to take it back. I wanted my baby back. I had made the wrong choice. I collapsed at the weight of what I had really done. Waves of more pain, regret, and grief crashed over and over me. It was too much to bear. I completely broke down and started sobbing. The pain was deep and primal…one of loss, grief and hopelessness for what I had done, for my lost baby I would never hold or know. I had not trusted God.
After that I was completely lost in my grief. I was a walking open wound. Everything hurt me. I couldn’t study, work, think, or socialize. Babies were in my face everywhere I went. There was no one to talk to. My family and friends did not know. They would not understand. They would hate me. I hated myself. I wanted to die. Part of me had died. I missed work for two weeks straight. I lost the will to live. I could not function. I could not undo the thing I wanted so desperately to undo. Eventually I turned to alcohol, and began wasting the next 5-6 years of my life drinking.
It’s been a long road to healing. I am clean and sober now and have two precious children, though I still wish they had their older sibling. My healing process truly began when I went to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat through Project Rachel. It was a 3-day weekend of prayer, counsel, and healing – truly a miracle and merciful gift from a loving and forgiving God.
Praise be to God! The following testimony was received from the grandmother of an aborted child after Project Rachel’s 2012 March retreat. The participant’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
“I had not seen Candice since she attended the retreat weekend. I could not believe the difference in her! I was thrilled to see her upbeat; talking about dating, working in her yard, planning a full day of events for her birthday. Oh my gosh, this was the Candice that I knew before! This afternoon, I wanted to jump up and down and say, “This is a miracle!”
This change came about because of prayer – so many people praying for her and everyone else on the weekend. Only God could bring about this healing. Thank you [Rachel team]. What a blessing you have been to Candice, to me and others. I am so grateful”!
Your prayers and support make miracles of healing possible! This testimony shows the essential need we have for you — all those who pray for us and assist us financially! You are intimately united with us on retreat as members of the communion of saints and the body of Christ. Please keep us in your prayers, and to God be the glory.
My healing journey has been an amazing one. Finding Project Rachel is literally what saved my life. I was living in a downward spiral and I couldn’t see past the blackness that was engulfing me. I think God knew how much trouble I was in and that He needed to intervene because somehow, some way, He called me back to church.
I think God used our priest as His agent because I was so drawn to him and his homilies. I could tell that he really loved being a priest and he cared about people. I kept going back to Mass because I wanted to hear more and learn more.
After a few months I was able to go to Confession. I hadn’t been to Confession in eighteen years! I remember being terrified but I also remember how kind and gentle Father was. He simply said to me, “Tell me what is bothering you the most.” Of course I had a terrible laundry list of sins but my abortion is what was hurting me the most.
When I left Confession I felt like I could fly! It was as if a huge burden had been lifted from me and I could live again. I quickly realized that even though I had been forgiven, I had a lot of healing to do. And most importantly I had to learn to forgive myself.
One day after Mass I saw the flyer for Project Rachel. I didn’t know what to expect or if I was brave enough to make the call, but I finally received the necessary Grace. I shared my whole story – a story I had ever told anyone before. Where I expected hatred and condemnation, I only found kindness and love.
Then I went on my Rachel retreat weekend. What an incredible blessing and a beautiful experience that weekend was! I was blessed to be shown God’s Grace and Mercy, and to share my pain with other women who were feeling the same kind of pain. That retreat weekend allowed me to continue in my healing journey.
Today I find that I am able to talk about my baby without so much grief. I can actually talk to her and about her and even smile a little bit. Yes, I am still sad that I don’t have her here with me, but I truly believe that she knows me and forgives me, and that she is praying for me.
I am so thankful for this ministry! I pray for Project Rachel and for all the men, women, and the little babies who are affected by abortion. You have been so instrumental in my healing journey. Today I am healthy and at peace.
Still, I feel like my healing journey is not quite over and I don’t think it will be until I meet this special little person and hold her in my own arms.
Thank you and God Bless You!
My husband and I had just gotten a divorce when I found out I was pregnant again. It was the worst thing that could have happened. I already had 4 kids; the baby was 9 months old and slept in my bedroom because there was no other space in the house. I didn’t have a job, no money in the bank, and although my ex-husband worked, he didn’t make much money.
Being pregnant was something I couldn’t handle at the time so I made an appointment for an abortion. When it was over I got up off that table and was walking to my car when I stopped halfway across the parking lot and thought “OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?” The decision I had made in an unthinking wild moment had ended up stopping another heartbeat.
I became severely depressed. I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks and was put on anti-depressants. When I returned home I got a job and went on with life. The anti-depressants worked by covering the past up a bit but what I had done was always just under the surface.
Because I was certain God didn’t love me anymore I left the Church, the Sacraments, and God Himself. I purposefully stayed away from Him for fear of rejection. My sin was too great and He would never forgive me.
I started drinking. I worked during the week but on Saturdays I would drink for 12 to 14 hours. At the bar I went to I was there for 3 shift changes. That was my whole life. Even with the anti-depressants, alcohol and drugs, I still buried the sorrow and distress of giving the gift God have given me back to Him as though I was returning something back to the store.
I always felt God calling me during those years but I ignored his voice as I couldn’t comprehend the idea that He wanted me back for any reason. I still found it hard to believe in second chances of any kind.
One morning I awoke to a feeling of being touched by something I couldn’t see or comprehend. I perceived God’s voice saying to me, “You are forgiven. I’ve told you this many times. Now stand up and start walking. Walk towards Me and for Me! But get moving!”
And I did. Although I had caused a life to be lost, and no way to bring it back, I could make it up by becoming a new life myself; a life that would work to help restore hope and healing to those who suffered from their own abortions. I could bring God’s spirit and peace to their lives by witnessing to my own restoration. Through a program called Rachel’s Vineyard, I was able to let go of my misery and rise up rejoicing because I had met God again and He held me in His arms.
I went back to the Church and am still there after four years. I have become involved in many ministries, attended trainings and pursued education, all in the grace of letting Him heal me. My greatest ministry is the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats where I volunteer.
I see them come in, both men and women, confused and hurt by what they did, and finding that God awaits their suffering minds with comfort and extreme closeness letting them know of His enduring love which never ceases.
I came back to Him and from the depth of my soul have never stopped in my gratitude for the new and life-giving gift of wholeness He has put in my life.
Picture for a moment that you are just seventeen and pregnant by your “childhood sweetheart” and “first love.” Your first instinct is to have your baby, but you are scared to confide in your parents. Meanwhile, everyone around you says abortion is the “best answer” to your problem, including the baby’s father. An appointment is arranged. At the clinic you are shown the ultrasound and see clearly the shape of your baby’s head. You know you cannot go through with this; your heart is about to break into pieces. Your eyes plead with your boyfriend, “Don’t let this happen!” He reads you like a book and protests – you are already here, you have both taken off school, his friend has gone to a lot of trouble to drive you all the way to Seattle, it is the best thing to do!! (Best for who?) So there you are. No clinic “counselor” sees your hesitancy, your anguish. Not one person arises in your defense or in defense of your child. No one offers you help or hope. This is the unseen face of “choice.”
This young woman’s regret, shame and guilt began immediately. Praise God that her mom was sensitive to her daughter’s symptoms of depression, discovered its cause and encouraged her to attend our weekend of healing. My heart is so sad for her pain and loss, but is filled with joy that her healing begins now. Many of the women who call me have spent years, even decades, carrying their secret burden which has caused many additional problems and losses in their lives. Please pray that more young women call for help and healing – repeat abortions can be avoided and lives can be restored! There is hope for the future! (Jer 31:17)
The purpose of my writing to you is to share a very deep and meaningful experience I had while on a weekend retreat. You see, 19 years ago I made a terrible choice, one of lasting consequences—I had an abortion.
Rather than detail the circumstances surrounding my decision, I would like to share my feelings for the past 19 years. I felt abortion was the most unpardonable sin. As a result, I alienated myself from God and the church for most of those years. My self-esteem, self-worth and self-respect deteriorated. I was ashamed and guilt-ridden, unable to forgive myself or grasp forgiveness from God. I felt so unworthy.
Deep in depression and spiritually destitute, I called Project Rachel. Finally, I was able to talk about my experience and was constantly reassurred of Jesus’ unconditional love for me.
Later, I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Healing Retreat. There I found other women whose pain, suffering, and unrelenting remorse was just like mine. Step by step, we were led through a process of emotional and spiritual healing, grieved our children and celebrated a Memorial Service to honor their brief lives. It was so hard for me to imagine what I was being told, but through faith and the blessings of the Holy Spirit, I came to accept the fact that God’s love for us is truly incomprehensible.
Today I am gratefully happy to tell you that I feel much better about myself and enjoy going to church again. My work effectiveness has remarkably improved. With the continued grace of the Holy Spirit, I hope to be able to reach out with loving concern and support to others suffering from a past abortion.
When “Rebecca” first called Project Rachel, she had been unable to sleep for two years since her abortion due to recurrent nightmares. She had dropped out of school and was unable to get to work. Rebecca’s low energy and depression were evident throughout several conversations prior to the retreat. Indeed, two days before the retreat was to begin, Rebecca called to cancel saying, “I just need to get some sleep and feel better before I can come.” Fortunately, through much prayer and the encouragement of a past retreatant, Rebecca did indeed join us for our healing weekend.
God is so good! After naming and writing a letter to her child on Saturday evening, Rebecca slept soundly for the first time in two years! Her nightmares are gone, but instead, she experienced a beautiful, vivid dream of holding and playing with her child in a place only to be described as heavenly. Rebecca now joyfully reports, “I feel like a different person.” Indeed, she is! Our Lord has promised, “See, I make all things new!”
Rebecca and her fiance were married a year after her retreat weekend. Today they are happily expecting their second baby.
Project Rachel mends broken hearts and heals marriages. Those willing to walk through the Dark Valley learn that God is with them always!