Post Abortion Healing Ministry
For help or more information on the Project Rachel Program, please call us at 954-981-2984 (local) and 888-456-4673 (toll free) or email us at [email protected]. The program is free of charge and all information is kept strictly confidential.
It is the initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that was created in 1975, two years after abortion was declared legal in the country. Project Rachel is the name given to diocesan or archdiocesan post-abortion healing ministry. Project Rachel operates through the Respect Life Office in the Archdiocese of Miami as a network of lay volunteers, priests, deacons, and volunteer licensed mental health professionals who provide spiritual and psychological support for those who are suffering from an abortion experience.
The name “Project Rachel” was inspired by scripture, “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. There is hope for your future.’” (Jeremiah 31:15-17.)
In the Archdiocese of Miami, the Project Rachel program is called Entering Canaan: Entering Canaan is a ministry where women and men are accompanied on their path of healing, and forgiveness of abortion, understanding that healing is achieved through Christ. The ministry was created in 1996 by Theresa Bonapartis in collaboration with the Sisters of Life. This program is used in 19 Dioceses around the country.
Why Entering Canaan? Like the Israelites who traveled for forty years through the desert before reaching the Promised Land (Canaan), People who have experienced abortion are "wandering in the desert" burdened with the suffering of guilt, despair, shame, pain, confusion, isolation for many years before reaching his healing.
Where to begin the journey of healing? The person who is interest in beginning the healing journey should call or email our Dedicated and confidential phone line (954-981-2984 or 888-456-4673) or email [email protected]. Once you contact us, we are available to meet with women/men individually in person or over the phone as they walk through the journey of healing.
Entering Cannan offer one day retreats called Day of Prayer and Healing, monthly gatherings, and hope and Healing weekend retreats. These events are a wonderful opportunity to experience the love, mercy, forgiveness of God in a safe, private, and confidential place. The retreats are directed by priest, trained volunteers, mental health professionals who have a sensitivity and heart for those who suffer an abortion. The retreats and monthly gatherings include testimony of mercy, scripture sharing, prayer, opportunity for sacramental confession, and Holy Mass.
The goals for the participants in Entering Canaan are:
- Develop personal relationship with Jesus Christ or renew it.
- Be able to observe the experience of abortion with honesty to achieve true healing.
- Develop an understanding of the impact of abortion on their life.
- Develop a personal relationship with their children lost through abortion.
Regardless of how much time you need for your healing, regardless of the battles fought, won or lost, Here you will always have in this Ministry a place to be safe and a community of people who understand you, where you can turn in times of need, to be helped with patience, compassion and lot of love.
While the Church considers abortion a grave sin (Canon 1398), abortion is NOT an unforgiveable sin. Pope Francis has written, “The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.” The Florida Catholic’s article on Sept. 1, 2015, “Forgiveness for abortion” further explained that “priests in the Archdiocese of Miami have had the faculty (to forgive the sin of abortion and absolve any censure incurred by procuring an abortion) since the mid-1980s.”
As St. Paul has written, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Yet, we are saved “by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24). You may be thinking, “I don’t deserve to be forgiven. My sins are too great!” Thankfully God’s love is greater than all the sins of all time. Jesus offers his grace and forgiveness to every repentant heart. All we have to do is ask and begin to trust in his mercy.”
Source: excerpt from Project Rachel Ministry Peace Starts Here Brochure.
“The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance.The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.” - St. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), no. 99 (1995)
Abortion is a life changing event that affects many individuals emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Abortion is a traumatic pregnancy loss – and that loss is real. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends, doctors, peers, and whole communities are impacted. With today’s open abortion laws, society does not provide a public way to grieve this loss. With no way to process this loss, the wound caused by abortion often remains unhealed and becomes a secret sorrow carried alone and without support.
Some women describe being in an almost altered state of mind at the time of the decision and during the abortion. When women are pregnant and frightened, the instinct for self-preservation takes over. The pregnancy may be seen as a life-threatening problem, and pregnant women who feel this way will do whatever is necessary to escape the problem. Source: Project Rachel Ministry Resource Manual, 2009.
1 in 4 women in the United States (23.7%) will have had 1 or more abortions by the age of 45, according to Guttmacher Institute.
Approximately 63,459,781 abortions have been performed in the United States since 1973, according to Guttmacher Institute.
In Florida in 2022 (January to September) had been reported 51,318 abortions*. In the 3 counties (Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe) between January to September 2022, total of abortions reported 16,713*. In Florida, 56% of the abortions in 2021 were chemical and 44% were surgical procedures*.
*Based on data from AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration)
There are many negative emotional reactions that have been associated with abortion. While some mothers report relatively little trauma following abortion, none come away truly unscathed. Some women experience ‘impacted grieving,’ which includes an inability to complete the grieving process. Others experience specific self-destructive tendencies, intense fear, feelings of helplessness or loss of control.
‘After my abortion I felt terribly confused,” Sue writes. ‘I had difficulty concentrating and getting a task done. I had what I now refer to as a cluttered mind.”
“At first I denied it and repressed it and tried to escape from it,” Laura writes. “It was a family secret. I dove heavily into drugs and sex, and was constantly having pregnancy tests for fear that I was pregnant.”
Source: “Post Abortion Syndrome Are You at Risk?” by Dr. David Reardon. Heritage House ’76, Inc., 2020.
During a post abortion healing program, many participants are surprised at how they became a different person since the abortion experience. Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) manifests in many ways. Some notice symptoms soon after the abortion, others take decades:
- Broken Relationships
- Failure to bond with existing children
- Suicidal thoughts
- Eating Disorders
- Repression or denial of feelings about the abortion
- Low self-esteem
- Aggressive behavior
- Nightmares/Sleeping Disorders
- Outbursts of Anger or rage
- Fear of punishment from God
- Atonement or replacement baby
- Impotence in men
Source: “Post Abortion Syndrome Are You at Risk?” by Dr. David Reardon. Heritage House ’76, Inc., 2015.
Others may approach you with questions about how to facilitate healing for the post-abortive woman or man. Although you can never force a person to seek healing, you can casually share information about post-abortion healing and point them in the direction of where to find help. If a friend has just told you about their abortion experience for the first time, they may fear being rejected or a breach in confidentiality. Assure your friend this won’t happen. Affirm the person’s courage and humility in reaching out to you.
Ask God what your friend needs… Someone to listen? A shoulder to cry on? We can’t make their suffering go away in one conversation but you can reassure them that you will be there through the journey of healing with them. Suggest they seek out a priest or Project Rachel program.
It is indispensable in a person’s healing journey that they understand that God… Add their child… Can forgive them. That the pain will diminish and healing is possible. There are excellent resources you can also read to be better able to respond in a way that brings your friend closer to healing the wounds in their heart & soul:
- Download “How to Help Others After Abortion – A Guide to Helping Those in Your Life Who May Be Hurting” by Elliot Institute at: http://www.afterabortion.org/churchawarenessproject/howtohelp.pdf
- Read the posting “How to talk to someone hurt by an abortion” at Project Rachel Ministry website: http://hopeafterabortion.com/?page_id=211
Clergy are encouraged to request a copy of the USCCB Project Rachel Ministry Resource Manual. The Respect Life Office has copies to give to pastors/priests/deacons free of charge, while supplies last. Pastors may also order additional copies directly from the USCCB store.
For additional questions, please contact the Archdiocesan Project Rachel line at (954) 981-2984 or via email [email protected].
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