Passionist Oblate Sharings

by Debbie Ward

 Sharings: (Click to read)  

            A Pro-Life Event
            The Spiritual Effects of Abortion

 Debbie Ward
 Passionist Oblate

                             by Debbie Ward, Passionist Oblate

C:\Documents and Settings\user\My Documents\My Pictures\2010_10_11\IMG_0784.JPG

“Until you hold me in heaven, I am safe in the arms of Jesus.”

10-10-10 is a day that will be remembered for many things by many people.   For me, this day will be remembered as the day of Hope.  It began with the homily from my parish pastor during the Sunday liturgy.  Fr. John pointed out the similarities between Namaan, from 2 Kings, to the Samaritan leper, from Luke.  Both were healed of their afflictions; however, the main point was that both were considered outsiders to the Jews.  Fr. John listed some who may be considered outsiders by us: relatives, neighbors, those of different color, different religion, etc.  Women who have had abortions came to my mind because I have actually heard people say they do not deserve forgiveness.

There are no outsiders with God.While I am not post-abortive, I was called by our Sorrowful Mother to pray for healing for post-abortive women, then later to an active role of ministry with Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats.   I have witnessed women deeply wounded by abortion; some in so much despair that they find it hard to believe that God could forgive and love them.  During the course of the weekend I have witnessed the mighty hand of God restore dignity and hope to those who thought of themselves as outsiders not worthy of God’s mercy or deserving of new life.

That afternoon I went to the dedication of the Hope sculpture in the Garden of Hope, sponsored by the Gospel of Life Committee, which represents the message of hope for life and also for God’s mercy.  Originally, I had planned on going to a Marian Congress in honor of our Blessed Mother.  Maybe it was she who drew my heart to the dedication instead as she did to prayer and Rachel’s Vineyard.  The sculpture depicts Jesus, a woman, and an infant.  Jesus is holding the infant in one arm, which is looking up at Jesus, while holding the hand of the mother.Jesus and the mother are facing each other and appear to be conversing.   The mother is holding a heart pendant with her other hand.  I wondered if Jesus gave her the pendant.  Maybe it is a special gift to remind her of the healing of her wounded heart now made whole.It makes me think of an insight shared on a recent retreat by one of the ladies, “Healing of our wounds does not mean that there will be no trace of the wounds, rather, our wounds are to be glorified, like the glorified wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Jesus still bears the wounds of His Passion, but He does not suffer from them anymore; we also will always have the wounds from our past abortions — but glorified and perfected and healed in Him!  Let us each join our wounds with those of our Blessed Lord, and know that He will bring them to glory in heaven!” 

The brochure describes the scene in the Garden as a “Place of Hope:  Jesus comforts us with the assurance that our precious one now lies cradled in His love and will forever live and rejoice in the presence of God.  A Place of Love:  Trusting in Jesus, who gathered children into His arms and blessed them, we commend our precious one to His tender care until the day when we will be brought together again.  A Place of Healing:  In this quiet setting, we come to understand that Jesus is always inviting us to receive His forgiveness and love.  He heals us with the reassurance that none who trust in His mercy are lost to Him.”  The sculpture’s setting is called “Garden of Hope:  Remembering those innocent lives who have gone to the embrace of an all merciful God.  For those who trust in God: in the pain of sorrow there is Consolation, in the face of despair there is Hope, in the midst of death there is Life.  We ask for strength, for healing and for love.”  

Before the conclusion of the prayer service, all were invited to come forward to reverence the sculpture and to take a rose.  I already had my eye on a yellow rose which was just beginning to open.  I wanted it for two reasons. The first being like graces received in the beginning of conversion.  As the heart continues to respond to grace a new life opens up just like the rose as its petals open up to reveal the beautiful flower. The second reason was for the birth of my new niece who was scheduled to be delivered on Monday, the 11th; however, God had another plan.  Just now, an inspiration came about another flower, a lily, which makes me think of the Resurrection.  My niece’s name is Lily.

                                                 by Debbie Ward, Passionist Oblate
                                                            (published in Western Kentucky Catholic, Sept. 2015)

I have been a team member with Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries which offers weekend retreats for women and men who have experienced the wounds of abortion for over 9 years. The wounds of abortion can be devastating physically, emotionally, and spiritually; sometimes leading to suicide. However, with this writing I will focus on the spiritual effects of abortion.

First of all, I am not post-abortive. I have always prayed and continue to pray for an end to abortion. Before I even heard of Rachel’s Vineyard I was called one day while in prayer to pray for healing for women who have had abortions. Up until that time it had never occurred to me the great need to pray for the healing of the women who are left behind to suffer the consequences of their “choice” and the possibility of the loss of their souls. This call to prayer, which I am convinced was from Our Mother of Sorrows, was for another type of war against women – spiritual war.

Jesus said, "Peace" I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” The world says, “have an abortion, it’s not a child, it’s just tissue. You can’t take care of it alone. You can move on with your life; be at peace and have no worries.” All lies from the world --- all lies from the devil. There is no peace in unsurmountable grief and guilt. There is no peace in despair. There is no peace with fear of no redemption. There is no peace with the fear of going to hell. The devil will do everything in his power to keep the soul tangled up in fear, misery, darkness, and doom. His greatest weapon is fear.

As a contact person for those inquiring about Rachel’s Vineyard retreats and an active team member on retreats I can easily say that I hear this over and over, not in those words, but it comes out in the stories, the searching; the longing for healing, restoration, freedom, and desire of hope for the future.

I would now like to share a short testimony from a past retreatant:

RV testimony -------
{{ It was my birthday but I wasn't celebrating. 44 years old. Never married. No children. And no denying that my biological clock had finally run out. I'm never going to have children, never going to be a mom. Sad and depressed I talked to my therapist. I had been in counseling for years, fighting clinical depression, struggling with drinking, battling weight, trying to quit smoking, managing relationships with men who couldn't commit. But never once in all those years had I been asked nor had I volunteered that I had an abortion when I was 16 years old. Wasn't the abortion supposed to solve all my problems? But I couldn't forget it and couldn't numb the pain and guilt any more. Face it, I had my chance, I don't deserve a child, it is my punishment for the wrong I did: God won't forgive me and I'll never be able to forgive myself.
Although I hadn't been to church in years the pain made me desperate for help. Without a plan except to be in the presence of the Lord I went to church that Sunday and the next. And on that day I read the bulletin which announced : " If you are suffering from an abortion experience the healing love of Jesus Christ on a Rachel's Vineyard retreat. The weekend offers a beautiful opportunity to experience God's love, forgiveness and compassion." In an instant God answered a prayer I couldn't even formulate because I had lost all hope.
Although fearful, I signed up for the weekend and participated in the discussions, spiritual exercises and memorial service with 9 other women who were also in pain and struggling. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done but with expert help my life started to change for the good and I began to experience peace. Although what I did was and remains wrong I could finally trust in God's forgiveness. Who could know that my child would bring me back to the Lord? Now I truly believe these words from the Bible "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope." }}

In April of 2015 the woman who wrote this testimony married her high school sweetheart.

Consider the number of abortions just in our nation. Even if abortion were to end tomorrow, the need for healing of the mothers and fathers left behind could go on until the end of time as we know it. As Christians we are all called to engage in the battle for souls through prayer which makes all things possible in, with, and through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Pray the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows And because we are engaged in spiritual warfare don’t forget to call on St. Michael the Archangel.

The next Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat will be November 13-15, 2015 in Whitesville, KY.  For information contact  Go to our team website .  For a complete listing of retreats in the United States go to .


All Rights Reserved.  ©  see Terms of Use and Legal Restrictions