BY LAURA MCKENZIE
Special to The Message
Forgiveness, healing and hope – three simple-yet-powerful messages the Diocese of Evansville has provided since January 2021 through the Project Rachel ministry. The wound from an abortion can lead to a complex mix of emotions – anxiety, pressure, panic, guilt and/or loss. If abortion is in your past, help and healing are closer than you might think. Project Rachel offers healing opportunities and resources for women and men who are struggling after an abortion.
From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Project Rachel is an ongoing ministry of the Catholic Church in the U.S. to those who have been involved in abortion. It is a diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors, and laypersons who provide a team response of care for those suffering in the aftermath of abortion. In addition to referring to Sacramental Reconciliation, the ministry provides an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling, support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professional.”
While under the umbrella of the USCCB, Project Rachel operates as a diocesan-based network, working out of stationed ministries across the country. The Evansville diocese’s Project Rachel offers a variety of options for healing that works with each individual based on where they are in the recovery process. The ministry is facilitated through a main phone line; and after an initial contact is made, resources are offered including pastoral/spiritual guidance, access to regional retreats, local prayer support and referrals to professional counseling. Project Rachel offers counseling by professional staff from private-therapist practices, Catholic Charities and specially trained priests.
Priests are available to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a number of diocesan priests have volunteered to be “on-call” to speak with anyone who may be struggling. Contacts often come from women looking to bring closure about their decision to abort, or how to obtain peace-of-mind and forgiveness; but it’s important to note that the phone line is also open to men who have been involved in or affected by an abortion decision. They also struggle with the weight and guilt of this lifelong decision.
A lot of women may feel condemned or judged for having had an abortion, and they may not see the Church as a place for mercy. Yet, we are here to offer women and men a way to find their way back into the arms of God and His mercy. This ministry is an invitation to healing, growth and moving forward. It’s important that Catholics in the pew, who may have had no experience of an abortion — and no idea of the trauma and the grief that’s involved in loss — to know and understand that this trauma is happening to people every day. They need to know that those around them who are suffering from an abortion are in need of an opportunity for healing, regardless of whether they are Catholic. Healing is available for all; please share this resource and information to someone who is in need of it.
The phone line is live now, and the resources are available for anyone in need. To contact Project Rachel, call 812-483-7812 or email [email protected]. All communication is strictly confidential. More information is available at https://www.evdio.org/project-rachel.html as well as the USCCB Project Rachel website at www.hopeafterabortion.org.