Project Rachel Trains Priests to Help With Post-Abortion Healing
Many suffer in silence after an abortion without knowing that hope and healing are possible. But there is help for those who are suffering … there is Project Rachel.
“Many women and men suffer so deeply from abortion,” said Fonda Luersman, a post-abortion advocate of Project Rachel for Catholic Charities. “It’s beautiful to see the healing that happens. Women open up and break the silence so the wound is able to be healed.”
So Many Affected
[singlepic id=54 w=320 h=240 float=right]By age 45 more than half of all American women experience an unintended pregnancy and about one third of those women get an abortion. Eighteen percent of American women who get an abortion are teenagers.
After an abortion, women and men can suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some immediately feel pain, realizing what they have done, and turn to drugs or alcohol or other unhealthy ways to numb the pain. Others may experience denial and wait years to work through the emotions related to the abortion.
“The healings I have seen have been profound. We want to help move them toward that healing,” said Fonda. “Project Rachel brings in both sides; spiritual healing and psychological healing.”
Project Rachel aims to reach out to as many who are suffering as possible by training priests and mental health professionals in order to better serve those who need healing.
In May, Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo was the second diocese in the U.S. to host training from the Project Rachel team of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The training helped priests, counselors and diocesan staff to know how to help and how to make referrals to Project Rachel. The team included directors of the Project Rachel programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston as well as Tom Grenchik, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-life Activities.
Learning Their Role
“It was one of the most informative educational experiences of priesthood in the past few years,” Father Michael Dandurand said of the training. He used what he learned during the training just three days later to help someone in need. “That’s God working.”
The 35 priests who attended learned about working with and ministering to post-abortive mothers and fathers as well as others who have been affected by an abortion, such as grandparents and extended family members, close friends, abortion survivors, siblings of aborted children and former abortion providers.
They learned how the Sacrament of Reconciliation plays a key role in this ministry and what their role can be in post-abortive counseling and healing for each person affected. “I want women who have had an abortion to know the church is here for them for healing and reconciliation with no judgment,” Fr. Dandurand said.
Further Project Rachel Initiatives
For those seeking help, there is a confidential helpline to connect them with various opportunities for healing, including a support group, professional counseling, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and pastoral and spiritual guidance. The support group for women and men who suffer after an abortion is called Fountain of Mercy and meets twice a month. Information can also be found at www.catholiccharitiesnwo.org and www.hopeafterabortion.com. To reach the local confidential helpline, please call 1-888-456-HOPE.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.