Catholic clergy of Peoria gathered for a seminar Tuesday to learn how to minister to women experiencing post-abortion trauma and help them heal.
The seminar was offered by Theresa Burke, founder of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries and co-author of the support group model "Rachel's Vineyard - A Psychological and Spiritual Journal of Post Abortion Healing."
Rachel’s Vineyard offers retreats to post-abortive women that include exercises aimed at helping participants deal with grief and anger. About 350 of the retreats are being held this year in 15 countries and that men and women are invited.
Two Rachel's Vineyard retreats will be offered by the Diocese of Peoria Feb. 25-27, 2005, and Oct. 28-30, 2005.
Her most recent book is "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion," co-authored by David Reardon.
Burke told the Journal Star that unexpressed grief and feelings of guilt resulting from abortion can surface in such ways as suicide, suicide attempts, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, promiscuity, anger and rage, and sexual dysfunction.
But it's a "taboo issue," thanks to the politics of the situation, Burke said. Women who have abortions are told that they have suffered the loss only of "a blob of tissue," but “the reality of a mother's heart is she lost that child," Burke said.
She disagrees that the problem of post-abortion trauma is not widespread and says the need for such treatment and healing continues to surface right across the country.
Burke is also co-administrator and founder of Covenant Family Resources, which supports couples as they build families through adoption.