A retreat for post-abortive women and families at Our Lady of the Fields and Retreat Center
By Vanessa Denha Garmo
Many people call them the walking wounded. They are post-abortive women and men who have not healed from the pain and sorrow. Today, there are many ministries that support people after an abortion including Rachel’s Vineyard; born from that ministry is a monthly retreat now being held Our Lady of the Fields Camp and Retreat Center in Brighton.
“The core team is very devoted and each of us feel called to walk with our brothers and sisters as we offer monthly support through prayer before the blessed Sacrament, fellowship, small group meetings, a meal and opportunity to memorialize the children,” said Eileen Craig, a mental health counselor with Mercy Therapy Services and a post-abortive woman herself. She had two abortions as a teenager.
“I was one of the broken, walking wounded,” she said. “I had never told a soul for so long. Finally, one of my friends enrolled me in the Seraphic Mass Association at St. Bonaventure in Detroit and asked Father Solanus Casey to pray for me. I received a deep spiritual and emotional healing where I was able to see my children in a meditation, ask them to forgive me and be embraced by the Love of Jesus and Mary.”
That was 25 years ago and now Craig wants to help other women, including Chaldean women, who have had abortions. “The days of prayer and healing are for women, but we can expand to men, siblings, and even grandparents eventually.”
Like Craig, many women, including Chaldeans, do not openly talk about having an abortion. Craig is hoping to help all women heal past their abortions and knows what it is like to see women resist help.
“We had a woman come to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat who was very resistant,” Craig recalled. “Her friend brought her on the retreat and encouraged her to stay. She was adamant saying, ‘I ain’t naming no baby.’ She almost left four times. She finally softened and memorialized her baby by naming her, Angel Star. I ran into her friend recently, the one who brought her on the retreat, she shared that the woman had heard a baby crying every night before that retreat. After the retreat the baby stopped crying. Sadly, she shared, the woman passed away recently.”
They are collaborating with all other post abortion healing groups. Craig has also been a team counselor on Rachel’s Vineyard retreats through the Ann Arbor chapter for the last five years.
Along with working with Rachel’s Vineyards, the team is bringing the Entering Canaan ministry to Michigan. This program was written by Theresa Bonopartis and the Sisters of Life. The ministry is on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) site and approved for post abortion healing. It is “A Sacramental Journey to the Inheritance of Mercy,” noted Craig.
They will need priests to help with mass and confessions. The retreat day also includes exposition of the blessed Sacrament and a short talk by a healed post abortive woman and a priest or deacon.
The first day of prayer and healing will be Saturday May 18 of this year at Our Lady of the Fields Camp and Retreat Center. The second one is scheduled for June 15 and will continue on the third Saturday of every month for the rest of the year. “We really feel called to help pick up the pieces of this broken culture with Our Lady,” said Craig.
“Our camp grounds and retreat center is an ideal center for such a retreat,” said Michael Hickey, executive director of Our Lady of the Fields. “The chapel is a peaceful place of prayer surrounded by acres of land for meditative walking. We pray with them as they continue this ministry.”