Austin, Texas, Nov 29, 2008 (CNA) - In January, the Diocese of Austin, Texas will offer a retreat for female victims of sexual abuse. The retreat, entitled “The Healing Heart Retreat,” is designed to begin healing the participant’s relationship with God.
Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton, Texas held its first-ever retreat for victims of sexual abuse earlier this month. Due to the success of the weekend, organizers scheduled a second retreat to be held January 30 – February 1.
Beverly Collin and Patricia Stankus, who are trained spiritual directors and veteran retreat presenters, will lead the January retreat. Both women have worked at the parish and at the diocesan level for many years and they have been trained to work with those who have suffered sexual abuse.
Collin said such abuse often shatters a woman’s intimacy with God.
“The abuse can cause a person to reject God, to withdraw from God, to cower from God or to deny God exists,” she said. “This retreat is designed to begin healing the participant’s relationship with God.”
Sexual abuse can range from sexual assault to incest to date rape to being inappropriately spoken to or touched. Stankus said the trauma of sexual abuse is often buried in one’s heart for years and the first step to healing is admitting one is a victim of abuse.
“Sexual abuse can affect every aspect of life,” she said. “Often 10, 20 or even 40 years later, the coping mechanisms people create to deal with it just stop working and their world falls apart.”
At that point, abuse victims have a choice, they can either remain victims or seek help and become survivors, she said.
Stankus said the road to healing can be a long journey, but in her experience with working with victims, what often helps the most is knowing that one is not alone on the journey to healing. And that is where the retreat comes in, Collin said.
“Through this retreat, we hope to provide a very safe, comfortable place for people to share as much or as little as they are ready to share,” she said.
Licensed therapists will be available to help participants deal with the emotional and psychological effects of the abuse. A maximum of 10 women will be allowed on the retreat because of the sensitive nature of sexual abuse.
“We want to be able to care for each participant spiritually, emotionally, prayerfully and lovingly, so we have to keep our numbers low,” Collin said.
Stankus and Collin have led many retreats together and they trust the Holy Spirit to lead the retreat in the right direction.
“We want to provide a gentle, supportive and loving atmosphere,” Stankus said. “We can’t force things to happen and we can’t fix everyone, but we can provide the environment and invite the Lord in to do his work.”
The idea for a retreat of this nature was born when a young woman who had been sexually abused approached the Austin Diocese about helping victims of sexual abuse.
“She was looking for some type of spiritual support, but found nothing,” Collin said. The diocese formed a task force and sent Stankus and Collin to workshops designed to help retreat leaders work with victims of abuse. Yet, even after attending the trainings, the women were not convinced that they were ready to lead this type of retreat.
“I think it took both of us a while to realize we were being called to do this,” Collin said.
To register for the retreat, email Beverly Collin directly at [email protected] Confidentially is assured.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Spirit, newspaper from the Diocese of Austin, Texas.
Bangalore, India, Nov 29, 2008 (CNA) - Following a campaign in which nearly 500,000 Rosaries were prayed, a prayer initiative held for the victims of anti-Christian persecution in Orissa and elsewhere in India has ended in Bangalore.
Millions across the world reportedly entrusted the victims of violent Hindu extremists to the Blessed Virgin, Fides reports. For forty days and forty nights, Catholics took turns praying the Rosary continuously for peace in India.
The prayer initiative, led by Salesian Father T.C. George, began on the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, October 6, and ended with a Mass in Bangalore on November 22.
Father George reported to Fides that there were 481,525 Rosaries offered by faithful in 44 nations on all the continents, with the greatest number of participants being in India.
Archbishop emeritus of Bangalore Ignatius Pinto commented on the initiative, saying that many Popes have encouraged devotion to the Rosary. He added, “the Rosary is a powerful instrument in bringing peace to the family and harmony to the country.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 29, 2008 (CNA) - After traveling over 11,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and back, the 765-pound cornerstone of Thomas Aquinas College’s chapel was laid in place last month. The cornerstone is part of $23 million construction of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel on the Santa Paula, California campus.
According to a press release from the college, the cornerstone traveled from Indiana to Rome where it was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI before arriving on the TAC campus. The stone itself measures two feet high, three feet wide and eight inches thick. It also contains a metal tube that will hold scrolls that list the names of the chapel’s benefactors, students, faculty, alumni, governors, and other friends of the college.
“This is no ordinary stone,” remarked President Thomas E. Dillon. “It is the cornerstone of our new chapel -- the crown jewel of our campus, and its installation is a cause for celebration for the many people who are assisting in making the chapel a reality for Thomas Aquinas College.”
Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel is a $23 million project aimed at providing the college with a permanent place of worship to accommodate its students and faculty. The chapel is scheduled to be officially dedicated in March 2009.