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Project Rachel celebrates 25 years of providing healing after abortions

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Before learning about Project Rachel, Jane (who asked that her real name be withheld) felt alone, confused and ashamed. She knew something was wrong inside but didn’t know how to fix it. “(I was) trying to be a normal functioning person,” she said. “It never crossed my mind that because of my abortion, I had triggers or trauma.”

After finding Project Rachel, Jane found hope and healing. “I felt connected, not alone. I had clarity and my shame came to an end,” she said. “I realized that there were so many factors I was not aware of that were causing me to stay stuck.”

For the last 25 years, women and men have found compassionate help after an abortion through the Arlington diocese’s Project Rachel. As part of the national Catholic Church’s outreach established 36 years ago, it is a diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, licensed mental health providers, and laypersons who offer a confidential helpline, spiritual support, retreats and referrals for confession and professional counseling. 

The diocesan ministry was founded by Gerri Laird, the wife of the assistant director of the Office of Family Life, Bob Laird. Over the years, 2,639 people have been served by the ministry and 298 people have attended the post-abortion healing retreats including the two annual Days of Prayer and Healing for women in English and Spanish, based on the Entering Canaan model.

The name was inspired by a passage from Jeremiah 31: “Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the Lord, they shall return from the enemy’s land. There is hope for your future.” 

Project Rachel hosts mornings of reflection and annual silent retreats for past retreat attendees. In 2010, organizers instituted the Parish Rachel Promoters, volunteers who encourage prayer and promotion of the Project Rachel message. 

Since 2011, the ministry has held 103 monthly holy hours for healing and has distributed more than 50,000 round purple Help After Abortion car magnets. In 2019, a dedicated phone line was established for men affected by abortion. 

“I’m proud that our Project Rachel team, whose members include Sarah LaPierre, Jo Balsamo, Maria Luisa Aliaga and a talented cadre of volunteers, have created one of the best Project Rachel programs in the country,” said Thérèse Bermpohl, executive director of the diocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life. “I hope more women will hear the Project Rachel message of mercy, believe that they are worthy of forgiveness and reach out so they, too, can join the ranks of all those who have found healing and peace after abortion.”

“A ministry like Project Rachel is so important — it is a godsend,” said Jane. “It is the safest, (most) caring ministry. It can save people’s lives. There is a great sense of community and sisterhood. Once connected with the ministry, you are never alone.” 

Find out more

For more about Project Rachel, call 703/841-2504 or email info@helpafterabortion.org. 

Project Rachel is hosting its monthly Praise and Worship Holy Hour for Conversion and Healing in Families with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Church, 3700 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax. The event will be livestreamed. . 

An Entering Canaan Day of Prayer & Healing for women who have experienced abortion will be held Saturday, October 17, 2020 both in English and Spanish. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020