Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat in Southern Maine to Lead All Hurting from Abortion on Path to Healing

“Words alone can’t express the importance of this experience for me.”

PORTLAND---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 played. The retreat provides a safe place to grieve the loss and to understand how abortion has affected them, so they can grow beyond it.

“We know abortion can cause intense emotional and spiritual pain. We do not judge or condemn,” said Judy Shaw, an organizer of the retreats.

The next Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Maine will be held on April 14-16 in southern Maine starting on Friday at 5 p.m. and concluding on Divine Mercy Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The weekend will include Scripture meditations, the opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation, a memorial service, Mass, and sharing with others personally affected by abortion.

“If things aren’t going right in your life and an abortion is part of your past, healing can help,” said Lori Dahlhoff, director of the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Lifelong Faith Formation which sponsors the retreats. “The retreat is an opportunity to 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 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.”

“Participants do not need to be Catholic to register for the weekend,” said Shaw.

Over the years, participants have described many different benefits of encountering God’s love and forgiveness during a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat:

“The Church doesn’t turn its back on you. There is a great sense of sharing and solidarity among the participants and the retreat team.”

“I never felt uneasy.”

“The retreat allowed me a most precious encounter with Jesus. Words alone can’t express the importance of this experience for me.”

To talk about attending a retreat, please leave a confidential message at (207) 321-7897; email [email protected]; or submit a confidential online form at www.portlanddiocese.org/form/contact-project-rachel. To learn more about the program or to hear more from past participants, visit www.portlanddiocese.org/project-rachel.

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 each year. 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.