While getting things ready for a 2014 retreat planning meeting with my friend Leslie, Director of Rachel's Hope/Escondido, I thought I would write a little about what it is and what we do.
The retreat program was created by Rosemary and Jim Benefield and follows the message of the Catholic church. It offers Catholic or Catholic-friendly post-abortive women an avenue for healing. The program provides a loving, compassionate and confidential atmosphere for them to share the grief, shame and regret they have hidden in their hearts and an opportunity to ask for and receive forgiveness.
We currently hold retreats in three locations: San Diego, Escondido and El Centro. We also offer a non-denominational program at the Los Colinas Women's Correctional Facility.
I work with Leslie at the Escondido retreat center. Held in a former convent house, the program starts on Friday evening and goes through Sunday afternoon. Staying together for the complete weekend promotes bonding as all have experienced the same emotional and spiritual strife; it also allows participants to focus on their healing and not be distracted. Leaders also stay overnight to be available for one-on-one counsel if issues arise after the women retire for the evening. We utilize music and a multitude of exercises and prayers to guide them through the healing process. Our retreats conclude with a beautiful dedication ceremony for their babies.
I am so blessed to be involved in this ministry. I praise God after each retreat as I see women walk into the house in emotional and spiritual agony and walk out with hope, a healed soul and a true understanding of God's mercy.
How it began....
God's Plan is Bigger Than Our Own
by Rosemary Benefield RN, MA & MPC
Executive Director, Rachel's Hope
Taken from the Rachel's Hope Website
It seems that whenever God has a job for me, he first puts the desire in my heart. It was while working in the Pregnancy Counseling Office at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, counseling pre- and post-abortive women, that I felt a desire to do more. It came to my attention than many Catholic women who have had an abortion needed healing in this area. I referred them to an Evangelical Post-Abortion Healing Workshop. However, many Catholic women won't attend a program if it is not Catholic. So this desire was realized with the birth of "Rachel's Hope After-Abortion Healing and Reconciliation retreats for Catholic Women ( or Catholic Friendly)." My husband, Jim Benefield, MFCC, gives healing workshops for men who have had an abortion experience. The Holy Spirit opened many doors for me, and sent me supportive people, in the founding of Rachel's Hope.
We are starting a follow-up program in 2014, appropriately called, "The Healing Continues". This retreat will be more contemplative which will give the women a chance to reflect on the changes that have occurred in their lives since the original retreat. We are quite excited about this new endeavor and hope it enhances the healing they have already received.