BANGOR---Feelings of hurt, emptiness, and regret often impact not only women who get abortions, but their spouses, parents, grandparents, and friends. Rachel’s Vineyard retreats aim to offer solace, peace, and inner healing to any individual connected to an abortion, regardless of the role they play.
The next Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Maine will be held on October 25-27 in the greater Bangor area. Anyone personally affected by an abortion, including former abortion workers, is welcome. The retreat includes two overnights and four meals. Arrival time is 6 p.m. on Friday, and departure time is 1 p.m. after a Sunday Mass.
The weekend is experiential, Scripture-based, and non-judgmental, with no more than eight participants.
“A person involved with an abortion can feel a complex mix of emotions and feelings like anxiety, pressure, panic, guilt, or loss,” said Annette Rioux, who facilitates Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in the Diocese of Portland. “If things aren’t going right in your life and an abortion is part of your past, healing can help. The weekend is a lot of work, but it yields a fruitful harvest. It’s an opportunity to examine the abortion experience, identify the ways the loss affected you, and acknowledge any unresolved feelings before the healing begins.”
“The Catholic Church wants to respond with kindness and care to the hopelessness of those who might have experienced an abortion,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley. “These retreats offer compassionate assistance, sensitive counseling, and the healing grace of God through sacramental forgiveness. We look to God in times of personal distress, trauma, and the loss of human life, and find meaning and healing in our lives through the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God.”
Rachel's Vineyard: A Psychological and Spiritual Journey for Post Abortion Healing was first published in 1994 and offered a unique support group model for counselors as well as a healing experience for grieving women. Soon after, the curriculum was formatted into weekend retreats.
Through word of mouth, Rachel’s Vineyard retreats spread throughout the country, growing from 18 retreats in 1999 to over 1,000 retreats nationally in 2019. The name "Rachel" refers to an Old Testament figure written about in the book of Jeremiah: “Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children—they are no more! Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of weeping, hold back your tears!” (Jeremiah 31:15-16). Vineyards are places where grapes are grown, lifted up, and cleansed so they can bear a bountiful harvest.
To talk about attending a retreat, please leave a confidential message by calling (207) 321-7897, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out a confidential online form at www.portlanddiocese.org/projectrachel.