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I have a question about bringing Rachel's Vinyard to my area. We do not currently have one. I am very interested in learning how to help facilitate this. My question is this: Do I have to have a degree in counseling, or psychology to work in this area. I am an RN and have worked in a consultant role. I am feeling led to work in this ministry for some reason I do not know why, as I have not experienced an abortion personally but for some reason I feel God is leading me to this. Thanks so much.


After Thanksgiving Holiday call our office and you can learn more about how to proceed. Thanks!

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Our pro-life leadership team would like to explore more of the non-denominational retreat model. Where could we find one to attend? Is there a specific training available or needed to conduct this type of retreat that is different than your Catholic model?

All the retreats that are not Catholic are listed as (interdenominational) on our website. You could attend any retreat you like for training (including Catholic sites) or we can assign you a mentor. If you would like to begin the process for mentoring or training contact Michelle Krystofik --

You can also attend our Leadership Training Conference in July. For more information on that, please visit our website and you can download info on the conference with a lsiting of classes and speakers.

The Catholic Retreat is the same as the Interdenominational one -- except a Catholic Retreat would have sacraments included: Confession, Mass and adoration. So, you could attend a Catholic Retreat as well and see very well the retreat process.

Its been awhile after my abortion and I was 16 when I had it, I'm 19 and will soon be 20. I honestly haven't talked about it with anyone since it happened. But it does bother me, and I still cry about it. It bothers me a lot. How do I get over this? With my boyfriend he doesn't know I've even had one and I'm not sure I'm even ready to admit to myself I've had one. I just want to know how would I go about all this? Its been almost 4yrs and I have no closer, or anything, what can I do?
Nazareth in Texas

I recommend that you attend a weekend retreat to give yourself permission to grieve your loss and explore all the ways that your heart has been impacted by this experience. You don't need to suffer alone or in isolation. The retreat will connect you to others who understand and have experienced similar pain and it will help you find your voice about your own journey and what you need in the future. This will be very important in the days ahead, especially in your personal relationships with boyfriends and others. Don't be afraid to go there -- its actually a very kind and nurturing thing to do for yourself -- and you will experience peace and so much love from others -- and a very special gift awaits you with the baby that you have been missing.

I encourage you to do this journey of the heart and I promise you will feel different.

I was 26 yo when I terminated my pregnancy. A decision I didn't give much thought to until 2 years ago (32 yrs ago)and now see how that decision has affected every decision in my life. My question is what are the ages of the women in retreat. I am now 58 yo. and although would welcome a retreat of this nature. I would only be comfortable with adults.


Peg from Philadelphia


Hi Peg,

The ages vary on each retreat, typically 20 - 70 -- but you would most likely be in the majority. Most women wait decades before realizing how much a past abortion is bothering them. I beleive you will find that you fit right in.

This past summer (2010) I had an abortion. I had been involved in a three year relationship with the man in which I got pregnant. During one of those three years, it was a long distance relationship. I found out I got pregnant after one of my many visits to see him. (no, he was not in jail, we just lived in different states. I moved away because of my job.) Initially, we were both very happy. But after that wore off, we both realised that neither one of us were in a position to care for a child, so we settled on having an abortion. I have always been pro life and never in a million years did I ever think I would make the choice to have an abortion. I live with the regret, guilt, shame and sorrow every single day since I had the proceedure. I will be attending my first Rachel's Vineyard Retreat in April this year, but I have two questions:

1. I am very angry. Several months after my abortion, my relationship ended. My ex has never allowed me to talk about it. He simply acts like it was something as minor as getting a manicure. The day of the procedure, I was by myself. His adult daughter knew about the baby and the abortion and asked him if he was going to go with me. He told her no, because it was just a minor medical procedure. He was totally content sending me his $25 (though the procedure was $175---of course, I paid the balance.) and texting me the day of the procedure. When I texted him the morning of,I told him I was scared. He said I should not be scared--he was "praying" for me. He has since moved in with another woman (after cheating on me for several months) in order to help her with her 4 children. He said he felt that she needed his help--but the children aren't even his. I am angry over the fact that he had "compassion" for another woman's kids (not his), but he helped convince me to terminate the life of OUR child---the only child he and I would have had together. My question is: will attending Rachel's Vineyard help me find healing for the anger I have towards my ex?

2. I am a 40 year old woman; one who has always wanted to have children. My ex knew this. I was blessed to have one, but made the foolish choice of not allowing the child to live. Now I feel terrible everytime someone asks me if I have children or when my peers are pregnant or proudly showing their children. All I have is a picture of a small dot of the child that should have been mine. Question: Will Rachel's Vineyard help me deal with my deep desire to have children, my regret over having chosen to terminate my only child's life, and my disappointment over the fact that I probably will never have the blessing of a child?

Thank you for your help.

screaming inside

I am very sorry to hear of your loss and how this continues to impact your life.

Please be assured that the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat will help you with your powerful feelings of anger, and the very painful post abortion suffering related to your age and desire for children. I can offer you real encouragement and hope that if you open your heart and soul to the retreat process, you will find healing in these very painful areas of loss, and the gift of healing and peace. Some people can feel some anxiety and doubt as the retreat approaches. This is normal but do not let that quiet that voice in your heart that recognizes the hunger in your soul for healing. Also feel free to contact the retreat site where you will attend and ask for support from the site leader. You can find the site leader phone and email contact on our website under the retreat listings:

Take care and thanks for reaching out to us for support.


in vinyards their seems to be flowers growing at the beginning and end of every line of grape vines.

Nice observation. Do you have a question?

What is the appropriate dress for the retreat weekends?

Comfortable clothes! Sweatpants or loose fitting clothes. You will be doing alot of emotional work on the weekend, so be comfortable! Some people even like to wear slippers! On Sunday there will be a closing Memorial Service, so you might want to pack a simple dress or one nice outfit.

I'm 15 and I was wondering if I could join the upcoming retreat in Colorado on October 22? Am I too young, or will I be able to go if my parents give consent?

Minors can attend Rachel's Vineyard with parental or guardian consent. Sometimes, depending on the situation, it can be very helpful to have a mom or dad attend the retreat with you. They can learn a lot about the suffering by listening to many others who are grieving the loss of their babies. But perhaps most important -- they have lost a grandchild and also need to heal. It can be exceptionally healing to make that journey together as a family, and reconcile the hurts and anger that can often accompany the abortion experience.

My question is... do you have to be catholic in order to become a team member? I went on a retreat recently and it helped me a huge amount. Now I would love to be able to help others but I am not catholic. Does this mean I can't be a team member?
Tina in IL

Rachel's Vineyard has retreats in both Catholic and Interdenominational settings. If you are interested in serving on a team, please contact with the local coordinator and let them know. Each site creates its own team, and many sites have teams composed of different faith backgrounds. Thank you for your willingess to help!!!

hi, I am attending an upcoming retreat in a couple of weeks and have been reading the website a little at a time for the past week; initially i felt relieved when i found it and was so happy to find something like this; but now as i read all the other peoples questions, i am finding that i can only relate to a small handful of them. I had an abortion 20 years ago and i am ready to continue my healing process on this retreat, as i have been healing in my own way the past 20 years, it will be nice to be guided through it and have counseling for it which i have not had other than books. i do not regret having my abortion. i feel deep pain and loss at times but i do not regret it. i was not pressured into it. I live a happy, fulfilling life and have for the past ten years. There is a lot of pain inside from my abortion which i am ready to learn more about and heal but i do not have nearly the same story as most of the women/men i am reading about here. On the Rachel's Vineyard website under the heading Emotions, i read them all and could only relate to 2 of them.

I am pro-choice. I am concerned that this may not be the place for me? Any insights?


I’m not sure if you ever made it to a retreat yet, but I am quite certain that the experience of going to focus on your loss will open up a completely different perspective. We had web problems and I am just getting to all these questions now. So sorry!

Most women who come into Rachel's Vineyard are pro-choice. They have exercised their personal right to chose and would feel like hypocrites if they told others not to have an abortion. For this reason, I don’t think you would feel different than most who participate. But arguing pro-choice pro life is not what the Rachel's Vineyard weekend is about. We are not focused on politics at all. This ministry exists to give people permission to deeply grieve the loss of their children -- children who are not here to share life with, and for good or for bad -- you lost a child. Whatever levels of grief you are aware of is what you bring to the program -- and that is different for each person. Many people don't give themselves permission to grieve at all after abortion – and those unexpressed feelings can be at the root of many other problems - such as eating disorders, addictions, anxiety and depression –(Read Forbidden Grief the unspoken pain of abortion for better understanding of what symptoms can emerge. As long as you feel the need to protect and defend a choice -- you have to keep telling yourself that your life is so much better and that having that baby would have ruined things -- many people do that for a long time -- but that actually inhibits a healthy grieving process. It creates a denial about the opposing natural instincts and yearning for the child of your womb. Many people can go on telling themselves that their life is better without a child -- and because of the unreleased grief they base future choices on the same mantra they have to keep telling themselves. So, in many situations, the complicated mourning can control and dictate many things. Most women who go through healing programs like Rachel's Vineyard have no idea how much of their hearts they had disconnected from until they give themselves permission to feel what they feel without having to protect or defend their choice, or some ideology. It’s about what’s really in your heart, in truth -- not what a "movement" needs you to believe. This is about you and your baby... and whatever symptoms have sprung up as a result of this natural normal conflict. Better to face it and see what is there than to feel pressure to uphold some political beliefs. At the end of the day, those ideas have nothing to do with your heart or soul. That is discovered by giving yourself full permission to feel the impact of your loss and release your feelings instead of stuffing, burying or hiding behind ideology. You won’t really know what is there until you do it. That is what most women find so surprising! Healing liberates you to make choices for the future in full freedom – not in fear to expose the truth or the need to hide from it. Each person’s journey toward healing is unique and life giving, so don’t be afraid to explore your heart more deeply. It’s the most empowering loving thing you can do for yourself. You would not be considering a retreat if there was not something inside your heart nagging to be understood. I wish you the very best in that journey.

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