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....
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.