Project Rachel retreats: Finding hope and healing after abortion
Despite a torrent of debate over abortion in this “post-Roe era,” one question is seldom addressed, “What happens to women who regret their abortions?”
Sadly, for many, the answer is they carry a heavy burden of spiritual and emotional pain for years or even decades. They often feel isolated from God and the Church.
Ultimately, their only path to hope and healing is by encountering the love and mercy of God in a deeply personal way. For many women, that burden has been lifted and they have been able to experience God’s life-altering forgiveness and peace by participating at a Project Rachel “Come to the Waters of Healing” one-day retreat.
Project Rachel is the official post-abortion ministry of the Catholic Church. It takes its name and mission from the Book of Jeremiah, where God offers a message of hope and healing to Rachel who has been weeping inconsolably for her children “who are no more.”
Here in the Archdiocese of Boston, more than 500 women of different ages, ethnicities, and cultures have attended Project Rachel healing retreats. Some participants had an abortion very recently. Others have been living with the pain and guilt for 30, 40, or even 50 years. And, because there were an estimated 63 million abortions since Roe, there are many women in that dark place of pain and regret.
Project Rachel retreats are facilitated by an experienced team, which includes a priest, a mental health professional, and women who have personally experienced post-abortion healing. The location is always confidential. The day includes Scriptural reflections, personal sharing, and reception of the sacraments. During the week before and the day of the retreat, a network of supporters in parishes, convents, and homes join in prayerful intercession.
Many retreat participants have commented how touched they were to learn that people they never met were praying for them. It gave them hope that perhaps forgiveness really is possible. These prayers are also a reminder that all of us in the Body of Christ are called to be messengers of God’s love and Divine Mercy.
Most women find out about Project Rachel at the parish level, usually from the weekly bulletin. Often, they had read about the retreats for years but were always too afraid to call. Yet, without fail, every time a retreat is offered, women step ahead in faith and experience a day of mercy, peace, and forgiveness.
It takes great courage to move beyond the divisiveness of the current public debate over abortion and seek post-abortion healing. If you, or someone you love, is living with the pain of a past abortion, listen to the hope described by these women as they share their experiences at a Project Rachel retreat:
“I will never, ever, forget this day.”
“It was a beautiful, healing experience.”
“This retreat was more than I expected it to be. I left with a feeling of forgiveness and peace.”
“I came to see I wasn’t letting God heal me.”
“I came away with the understanding that God listens, God forgives, and God is merciful.”
“Project Rachel led me to a place of forgiveness and mercy.”
“Project Rachel helped me so much in dealing with the shame that I have felt for over 40 years.”
“The Project Rachel Retreat gave me hope. I now know that I can once again be active in my faith.”
This hope can be yours, too. Fall Project Rachel retreats will take place Oct. 1, Oct. 29, and Nov. 19. For more information, contact Project Rachel at 508.651.3100 or email@example.com.
MARIANNE LUTHIN IS DIRECTOR OF THE PROJECT RACHEL MINISTRY, ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.