Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 12, 2005
Rachel's Vineyard offers new retreat for non-Catholics
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Non-Catholic Christians who have lost children through abortion, stillbirth or miscarriage will now be able to seek healing in a more inclusive setting.
Rachel's Vineyard, a Catholic retreat for women trying to overcome their regret over the loss of a child, will soon be offered in a non-denominational format.
A five-member team with representatives of several Christian denominations, including a Catholic sister, was recently set up to conduct ecumenical retreats at least twice a year. The first one will be held Dec. 2-4.
Marlene Javorsky and Jennifer Boustead are leading the effort. The two Baptist women, who took the Catholic retreat in early 2003 and then led a few retreats afterwards, decided to apply for non-denominational status because they thought the retreat's Catholic format was not inclusive enough.
"We are not reaching the Protestant women and we saw a need for this," Javorsky said.
"I really sense personally that there's got to be women out there that are of the Protestant faith that are afraid to come to a Catholic-format retreat."
Pain and fear
Last year in Alberta, 10,577 abortions were performed. "So it became obvious to us that there was a need for this type of ministry," added Javorsky.
"There are thousands of women out there walking in pain and fear. This retreat is a safe environment for these women to come to where they are truly allowed to deal with their pain and their grief and their shame and their guilt."
The Onoway-based Rachel's Vineyard is just the second non-denominational vineyard in Canada. The other is in Manitoba, which held its first retreat in June.
Traditional Rachel's Vineyard retreats feature the sacrament of Reconciliation and a Mass. "Instead of having a Catholic Mass we will have a service of celebration," Boustead said of the non-denominational retreat. "And if there are Catholics that come to our retreat then we will arrange for a priest to come for the sacrament of Reconciliation."
The remainder of the non-denominational weekend vineyard is not much different from the Catholic version.
The Rachel's Vineyard retreat is a psychological and spiritual journey of post-abortion healing. It focuses on God's love and forgiveness.
"It is a chance to get away from the daily pressure of work and family to focus on a painful time in life and to begin healing through a supportive and non-judgmental process," reads a brochure on the retreat.
Javorsky, a mother of two, said the Rachel's Vineyard retreat helped her deal with her own pain and anguish over the loss of a child.
"In 1993 I had a tubal pregnancy and they had to abort it because it was a viable fetus and of course it couldn't survive outside of the womb," she related. "So I had to live with this grief and this pain until January of 2003 when I was placed into a Rachel's Vineyard retreat, which was truly life changing. I was able to deal with the pain and the grief and move on."
Boustead, a mother of three, also took part in a Rachel's Vineyard more than two years ago. "It was the first time I could talk about the loss in a safe, non-judgmental environment," she said. "I have three children in heaven and I don't have any fear talking about it anymore because I believe God has forgiven me and now I've forgiven myself."
Both women say retreat participants who have been trapped in anger toward themselves or others find forgiveness and peace. Lives are restored.
For more information about the retreat contact Marlene at MAJButterflies@aol.com or Carla at 780-963-4048 or Mary Laurene at 780-424-4538 or 1-877-597-3223.