Rachel's Vineyard

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Rachel's Vineyard is an American organization offering weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and for others, including men, who believe that they have been hurt by abortion.[1] It is named after Rachel in the Bible, who weeps "for her lost children".[1][2][3]

Rachel's Vineyard is funded by Priests for Life[4] and has a broadly Roman Catholic ethos with a Catholic Mass celebrated as an integral part of the retreat, but also runs non-denominational retreats for non-Catholics.[5][6][7]


In 1996, Theresa Karminski Burke started one of the first therapeutic support groups for women who had had abortions. Later, she founded Rachel’s Vineyard,[8] together with her husband, Kevin Burke. Burke's Rachel's Vineyard: A Psychological and Spiritual Journey for Post Abortion Healing (written with Barbara Cullen) was published in 1994 as a support group model for counselors helping women with post abortion grief. Four Rachel's Vineyard retreats were conducted in 1995 and by the end of 2002 over 130 had been held. In 2003, Rachel’s Vineyard was reorganised and became a ministry of Priests for Life, with Frank Pavone as the Pastoral Director.[9] A retreat is generally designed for about a dozen clients and a priest and a licensed therapist are typically present.[10][11]

In June 2002, Burke and David Reardon published a book titled Forbidden Grief, a review of Burke’s experience in counseling women for abortion-related emotional problems.[12][13]

In 2003, Bernadette Goulding founded the Irish chapter of Rachel's Vineyard, and in 2011 founded Women Hurt, a similar organisation, with less focus on Catholicism.[14]

As of 2014, Rachel's Vineyard held over 1,000 retreats annually, in 48 U.S. states and 70 countries.[5][15]

Rachel's Vineyard retreats are hosted by church based ministries, counseling outreach programs, Project Rachel offices, Respect Life groups, and crisis pregnancy centers. They are offered in both Catholic and interdenominational settings.[6]

See also[edit]

  • Women Hurt, an Irish organisation with similar goals, co-founded by the founder of the Irish chapter of Rachel's Vineyard, but with less focus on Catholicism


  1. ^ a b Ellie Lee (2003). Abortion, Motherhood, and Mental Health: Medicalizing Reproduction in the United States and Great Britain. Transaction Publishers. pp. 23–24. ISBN 0202364046.
  2. ^ Genevieve, Peter Maher & Thomas Ryan (2009). "Healing abortion's trauma and 'Rachel's Vineyard Retreat': From three participants". Australasian Catholic Record. 86 (2): 200–211.
  3. ^ Ann Rodgers-Melnick (20 January 2002). "Groups support those who regret abortions". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  4. ^ Cherie Black (1 July 2007). "Is post-abortion syndrome real? – Proponents of grief theory add fuel to debate". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b Joseph O’Brien (21 April 2011). "Rachel's Vineyard begins to bear fruit in central Wisconsin". The Catholic Times, reprinted in the West Central Wisconsin Catholic. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b Ramon Gonzalez (7 Sep 2005). "Rachel's Vineyard offers new retreat for non-Catholics". Western Catholic Reporter. Archived from the original on October 4, 2006. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. ^ Jennifer Warner Cooper (13 August 2006). "After The Abortion, Redemption". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  8. ^ Emily Bazelon (27 January 2007). "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  9. ^ Rachel's Vineyard. "Website". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  10. ^ Bonnie Miller Rubin (4 November 2005). "Spiritual healing after abortions: A psychologist's retreat for those battling unresolved feelings uses religious guidance". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  11. ^ Theresa Karminski Burke (5 September 1996). "Post-Abortion Healing: Reconciling an Abortion in the Catholic Church" (PDF). Rachel's Vineyard. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  12. ^ Johannes L. Jacobse (2003). "Women are Abortion's Second Victims (review of Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion)". OrthodoxyToday.org. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  13. ^ Rachel's Vineyard. "Forbidden Grief (book information)". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  14. ^ Naughton, Celine (5 July 2011). "Why women shouldn't think of abortion as a 'dirty little secret'". Irish Independent. p. 17. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  15. ^ Melissa Lin (26 March 2013). "Having had two abortions as teenager, Jennifer Heng now helps others heal". The Straits Times. Retrieved 27 July 2013.

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