Posts Tagged ‘Project Rachel’

I had an abortion in 1995. The next several years of my life seemed to be a series of one awful thing after the other, it became overwhelming. So many terrible things happened, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

At first I wondered if God was punishing me. Then I realized I could blame God, or I could take responsibility for what I did. It was MY DECISION. God had nothing to do with it, nor did He “punish” me for what I had done. I was punishing myself!!

I had no idea I could be forgiven for such a grave sin. Even though I went to church, it seemed like the priest only talked about “respect for life”, and never spoke about being able to be forgiven after having an abortion. The guilt I felt on Mother’s Day and March for Life weekend at church was incredibly painful.

For many years I wanted to confess my sin, but was afraid … I would not even tell my cousin who is a priest.

Then one day (17 years later), I was in a restroom at a church I was visiting when I saw a paper that read “help after abortion.” As I went on reading the piece of paper that was taped to the wall, it said there is healing and forgiveness after abortion. Even after reading it I thought “Forgiveness??? Really???” At the bottom of the page were tabs to pull off and a phone number to call. I pulled one off, and even then, I was hesitant to call.

After a week or so, I called and spoke with Jo at the Diocese of Arlington. She was so supportive and positive. She told me about Rachel’s Vineyard [our diocesan retreat]. It sounded too good to be true. I signed up to attend the upcoming retreat.

That retreat turned my life around!!

I feel so blessed to have experienced the forgiveness of God, and my retreat was on Divine Mercy weekend. It was amazing. The priest we had at our retreat was a Father of Mercy, and he was such an empathetic, kind man. He was not the priest that was scheduled to be at our retreat, but God sent him to us, and he will stay in my heart forever. What a wonderful man.

The women I met there know more about me than friends I’ve known for years. We stay in touch and we all went to Mass together last month and had a luncheon. We are planning a get together around the Christmas holidays and there is a true bond between us. It’s absolutely wonderful.

I pray that more people who need healing and forgiveness learn about Project Rachel and attend a retreat. It will be the beginning of the rest of your life. You can be forgiven and you can heal. Just let God in. I realized God never meant for me to hurt for all those years, He never did anything to punish me. He loves us. We are His children. Remember, He said: “Come to me, all who are weary.”

Please go to Him if you are weary and He will give you peace. God Bless You.

Note: There is a Project Rachel retreat occurring in Northern Virginia, November 2-4. There are still open spaces if you or someone you know is in search of healing after an abortion.

Diocesan Post-Abortion Ministry provides referral to specially trained priests and/or professional counselors, healing retreats and written materials. For confidential assistance please call 1-888-456-HOPE (4673) or email info@helpafterabortion.org.


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By: Susan Gibbs, Office of Communications

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

Yesterday’s Washington Post ran a sympathetic profile of late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart. Although he lives in Nebraska, Carhart decided to open shop in neighboring Maryland last year, as the state has virtually no restrictions on abortion.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

 The article is chilling. We learn that 60 unborn children are aborted every month, six to 10 of them late in pregnancy. He performs abortions up to 32 weeks, which is seven months into a pregnancy. Many children are born that early so why not just help a woman deliver her child? Because he is a man on a mission, a gruesome mission that he has brought to our community. As he tells a reporter, these children have “anomalies,” which is why he aborts them.

 That’s right: he aborts children because they are not perfect. But then again, who of us is?

 How imperfect does a child need to be? He gives an example of one child he aborted who would have been paralyzed from the waist down if allowed to live. Apparently, it is better off to be dead than to be in a wheelchair.

This is the horrific reality of abortion. It is not an easy slogan about “choice.” Abortion is a child who is dead, a mother who is devastated and a world in which people with disabilities are sent the message that their lives are worthless.

 It can be hard to step into the abortion debate, but as people of faith, we must. Not only is it a matter of life and death for the child, it’s also a matter of spiritual death for all those who partake in abortion.

 As Pope Benedict XVI said earlier this year, “It is necessary that the whole of society defend the right to life of the conceived and the true good of the woman, who never, under any circumstance, will be fulfilled in the choice of abortion. In the same way it is necessary … to provide the necessary help to women who sadly have already taken recourse to abortion, and who now experience all its moral and existential tragedy.”

 Please join us as we pray, act and support parents who are in difficult circumstances.


  • The Diocese of Arlington’s Office for Family Life’s Project Rachel Ministry has initiated a 30-day prayer campaign for the intention of healing all those who have participated in abortion. The official novena began on July 16 (Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) and goes until Aug. 15 (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). The Project Rachel Office encourages you to choose your favorite Marian prayer, the rosary or the chaplet of divine mercy and pray it each day through Aug. 15.
  • Join the Archdiocese of Washington and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who are cosponsoring the “Summer of Mercy 2.0,” a peaceful, prayerful presence for life July 30-Aug. 7 in Germantown, Md., and Washington, D.C.


  • Make sure you know what is happening in Virginia. If there are any public policy issues to weigh in on, the Virginia Catholic Conference will get the word out. Simply sign up for the VCC Advocacy Network.
  • Consider helping to spread the message of  love and mercy to all those on the road by ordering magnetic bumper stickers from the Arlington Diocesan Office for Family Life’s Project Rachel Ministry. The bumper stickers read, “Help After Abortion, 888-456-HOPE.”  Order online, at projectrachel@arlingtondiocese.orgor (703) 841-2755.

    Bumper sticker from the Arlington Diocesan Office for Family Life’s Project Rachel Ministry.


Parents facing difficult pregnancies need to know we care, and women and men who have been involved in abortions need to know that God loves them and has unending mercy.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Allow me to share with you a heartfelt note of thanks from a mother who was the recipient of your generous donations to the Office for Family Life’s Gabriel Project (outreach to pregnant women). I am reprinting it here with “Ellen”’s permission.

A new mother welcomes her baby into the world.

Dear Gabriel Project,

I’m Ellen. I’m writing this letter to you because I wanted to thank you for what you and the Project did for me. Thanks to you and your support every time I called you; I made it.

You helped me a lot with everything. It was really hard for me to become a mother. My life wasn’t on the right path to have a baby. But when I got to know about the Project and the way you guys helped me, it let me see that God exists and that there are people who work for Him to help people like me. I don’t know how to explain with words how thankful I am. I’m always going to remember you and I will never forget what you told me: “God never forgets about us.” Your words are big and I thank God for making a person like you, and the ones who work in the Gabriel Project.

Now my life is better than before. I’m glad to be a mother. My son’s name is Shaun Jesus. He is already one month old and when he grows I’m going to let him know about the angels who work in the Gabriel Project who make it possible that he lives. Thank you so much for everything that you did for me. God is going to keep blessing you for what you did for me. Thanks for not letting me fall and always being there for me.



Blog note: Gabriel Project Arlington helps pregnant women with long- or short-term needs by offering assistance at the parish level. It involves a network of churches, volunteers, crisis pregnancy centers and other agencies working together to assist the mother with physical, material, spiritual and emotional support. To find out ways to help this important ministry, visit here.  Thank you for giving the GIFT FOR LIFE.

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By Jeff Caruso, Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference

As you may remember from my previous post, the Virginia General Assembly will be voting on amendments to the state budget on April 21. For many years, Virginia has funded abortions for reasons that go well beyond what federal laws and state statutes require.  Since the last time I posted, Governor McDonnell has proposed a budget amendment to ban state funding of these abortions.

It is crucial for the citizens of Virginia to contact their state legislators before Wednesday, April 21, in support of Governor McDonnell’s proposal. This is a concrete action that we can take to defend and protect life in our government!  Let your representatives know that you want them to ratify the Governor’s amendment to save countless lives and eliminate state spending on the vast majority of abortions currently funded with taxpayer dollars.

At www.vacatholic.org you can follow easy steps (at the top of the page) to send an e-mail to your legislators. I urge you to take a moment to let your voice be heard on this very important issue. Share this news with others who are interested in saving countless lives – according to state statistics, over 100 a year!

 Please join me in action and prayer as we seek to protect the dignity of life.  Along with this important initiative, you are invited to participate in other pro-life initiatives here in the Diocese of Arlington such as Respect Life Masses and Rosary, the Gabriel Project and Project Rachel. As a Church and as citizens of the state of Virginia, each one of us can do our part to defend the lives of the unborn.

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By: Thérèse Bermpohl   

Divine Mercy Sunday occurs on the Sunday after Easter

There are scores of women and men suffering after abortion.  They fear condemnation by their community and, even worse, the refusal of forgiveness.  Well over half of the women who have had abortions say they felt pressured or coerced by family members, the father of the child and friends.  Many say that they didn’t feel they ever had a real choice and they were never made aware of other options.  These same women are often brought to despair after their abortions, feeling ostracized from the Church, believing that their sin is “the unforgivable one.”  Reports indicate that as many as 1/3 of all women have had an abortion and, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 27% of those choosing abortion identify themselves as Catholic. Chances are, we all know someone who has been affected by abortion and is in need of God’s mercy.     

As we get ready to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday, it’s a good time to recall the words of Jesus, spoken to St. Faustina, “Let the greatest sinners place their trust in my mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy.”  Let this Divine Mercy Sunday remind us of the need to reach out to those suffering with the grief and heartbreak of abortion.      

"For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."


 Without condemnation, let us offer them words of hope and consolation.  I echo the words Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the Kenyan Bishops when they visited the Vatican, “The community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ.”         

The Project Rachel staff at the Diocese of Arlington is ready to assist all those wounded after abortion with a confidential phone line, priest referrals, counseling, retreats and aftercare (Aftercare allows women who have attended either the PR Retreat or the Day of Recollection to continue their healing journey with evenings of prayer, confession, discussion and fellowship).  To learn more about our programs, please contact us at 703-841-2504 or visit our Web site  

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