Our experience at Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat
What a gift from GOD when we have priests who are persistent in God’s plan.
Our story about Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is unique. We moved to Kentucky about 8 yrs ago. My husband and I and our teenage children were invited to The Fathers of Mercy Catholic Church by my sister. We always had our children in Catholic schools, went to church on Sundays, and followed our life according to the church’s teaching, but now that I have seen the “Truth” I realize how ignorant I was of my faith.
We have been married for 31 years and unfortunately, David and I had an abortion when I was 19 yrs old. David was not a Catholic and we were living a secular life. We were young and I was so ignorant and scared!!! Only 19 yrs old, and I was trying very hard not to have premarital sex, but unfortunately, it did happen. I went to Planned Parenthood since all my friends went there. How ironic that they have the word “parenthood” in their name and there is no parenting at all. I found out I was pregnant there, and they took me to a room to speak with this lady. I was crying and she said there was no need to cry since they could fix the problem. Next day I was scheduled to have an abortion. Still to this day, I cannot remember for the most part anything about that tragic day. Planned Parenthood is a deceiving organization that takes advantage of young girls who are emotionally distressed. I still think that if someone would have told me that it was not the end of the world and that I should have gone to my parents, I probably would have my child today. That day changed the way I would live the rest of my life.
In 1984 David became a Catholic and we were married. I was so happy with my life. We had jobs, we bought our first house, and then we got pregnant with our first child Steven but, I really should say my second child Steven. I was so happy I was having a baby. Steven was born and he was so beautiful. A few months later, I started to have panic attacks and anxiety. I got to the point I couldn’t work. I kept asking myself what was wrong with me. I started going to a therapist and there I found out that my abortion was causing all my psychological problems.
I had gone to the sacrament of penance many times for the same sin but I was still having feelings of guilt, sadness, and despair. For the most part, I avoided the conversation.
As we were beginning a new life in Kentucky, Fr Ben came to me on one occasion to invite me to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. I was a little upset since my sister had told him about my tragic abortion without my permission. I guess my sister knew I would have forbidden it.
God has a wonderful plan for all of us and He takes sin seriously, but He also changes bad experiences into good ones if we let Him.
When Fr. Ben invited me to the retreat, I immediately told him that I had gone to confession and that I had done therapy and there was no need for me to go. So very softly he said, “Ok, let me know if you change your mind”. He went on for about 3 to 4 years to “NAG” me about attending the retreat. So, one day, I said Yes. I only did it so he would stop pestering me. So, I went home and told David that we were going to a retreat. I told him he had no choice but that he had to go…… I was not going to be tortured by Fr. Ben by myself. We had no clue what the weekend was about. All the information Fr. Ben had provided, I never read. So we really were going blind. Ohhh my Jesus, I thank you every day for this retreat!!!
Rachel’s Vineyard changed David and me. We didn’t realize how abortion impacted our whole family. Even writing this letter, makes my tears flow down my face. Before, I lived thinking that even though I had gone to confession and I was really sorry for what I had done, I still lived with a pain in my heart and sometimes doubted God’s forgiveness. Rachel’s Vineyard, the people there, the love, and most of all, the presence of the Mercy of God is unexplainable. There is no judging, only love.
Now David and I are closer together in our marriage, in our intimacy, in our faith and we know we have a child who is in heaven and her name is Michelle. We know that some day we will see her in our heavenly home and we will be able to kiss her and hug her and tell her how much we love her and how sorry we are to have lost her because of our sins.
All I can say to anyone out there that has any doubts about attending Rachel’s Vineyard, is that it is the best thing we ever did as a couple. It has brought us close to God. It has brought closure to our suffering even though the pain will always be there. Thank you God for bringing Fr. Ben and Rachel’s Vineyard to us. Now, We have a new mission. To tell as many people as we can, that God’s Mercy is greater than our sins.
May the Holy Spirit guide all of you, and may he bring you as many blessings as he has brought us.
Your Brother and Sister in Christ,
David and Rita