Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 29, 2004
Women with abortion trauma find hope
Lloydminster launches Project Rachel to provide healing
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Women suffering silently with the effects of a past abortion can now find healing right in their own community. Last December St. Anthony's Parish launched Project Rachel, a confidential healing ministry for the many people, both men and women, who have been touched by an abortion experience.
"The purpose is to help women who have had abortions find reconciliation," said project coordinator Theresa Brown. "We also want to bring to life what the pope has said, that the battle against abortion will be more effective coming from women who have had abortions and are ready to admit that it's not a good solution because they'd suffered tremendous pain as a result of abortions."
She said the project "helps uncover the lie that when you have an abortion everything is going to be fine. It's not fine."
The project started to take shape in Lloydminster over a year ago when a group of St. Anthony's parishioners realized they had to reach out to people suffering from post-abortion trauma. Lucie Tettamente, a resource person for the archdiocesan Project Rachel and a woman who found reconciliation through the program, travelled to Lloydminster to speak about her personal journey and to introduce the program to the parish.
Over the past year, members of the archdiocesan Project Rachel training team have conducted three training sessions for parish volunteers. Currently, a team of six volunteers, including Brown, operate the Lloydminster project.
The ministry, the first in the archdiocese outside Edmonton, is good news for women in Lloydminster who are struggling with the pain of abortion, said John MacDonald, director of the Family Enrichment Centre and chair of the archdiocesan Project Rachel. "This is a local resource that demonstrates the compassionate side of the Church."
Plans are underway to start the ministry in places like Red Deer and Hinton.
The archdiocesan Project Rachel was launched in Edmonton in 1999 with the help of Catholic Social Services and the Redemptorist Centre for Growth. It is a ministry of reconciliation and healing for women and men with post-abortion experiences and trauma. Trained volunteers, counsellors and clergy help people in a sensitive, confidential manner. About 16 people phone the archdiocesan toll free line every year seeking assistance, MacDonald said. About seven or eight end up getting one-on-one support.
The Lloydminster Project Rachel ministry works in conjunction with Catholic Social Services, which has provided additional training for volunteers as well as an office to conduct one-on-one counselling sessions with clients.
As well, a professional CSS counsellor and an independent Christian counsellor work with the team. "When a person needs more than what we (volunteers) can give them, we refer them to a counsellor," Brown explained.
There has also been great support from the parish, which has also provided office space for confidential counselling. The archdiocese is contributing funding for ongoing expenses.
So far six clients have approached the Lloydminster team for help. Two of them have agreed to participate in a weekend healing retreat called Rachel's Vineyard. The retreat breaks through the isolation and loneliness, enabling women to share their stories in safety and with respect. Women who have participated speak of a personal encounter with Christ and the life-giving freedom of reconciling love.
Rachel's Vineyard is hosted by the archdiocesan Project Rachel three times a year in January, May and October.
Clients who seek help from the Project Rachel team do so because they are suffering. "And we tell them there is forgiveness in Jesus," Brown said. "We help them to work through the pain of losing their child and the guilt of having done something that's very wrong. And we hopefully can make them feel less alienated."
The team has advertised its services through the local paper and by placing brochures cards and posters in businesses and churches throughout Lloydminster. The local line for Lloydminster clients is 871-3574. The archdiocesan toll free line is 1-877-597-3223.