Evolution of a healing ministry

By Amy Julian

In December, Carol Kling, the director of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat of the Western Dakotas, needed to make a decision. The last two RV retreats had canceled due to a snowstorm, and then to Covid. “I was not going to let this retreat cancel,” she said.

At a peak of Covid cases, and being unsure of what the spring would bring, the RV Team of the Western Dakotas decided to try what seemed to be impossible — to use ZOOM to bring healing to those suffering from the spiritual and emotional consequences of abortion. “We were completely unsure if this would work,” Kling said. “Healing from abortion requires willingness to allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to Christ, and to the people who are accompanying you on the journey. Trust is essential. How on earth were we going to pull that off on ZOOM?”

Providentially, the Dallas RV Team was willing to share their experiences. “They sent us their adaptations, as well as PowerPoint slides. It was a great head start.” Armed with the Dallas materials, and weeks of rehearsals, the team set up in individual rooms at Terra Sancta, ready to virtually receive the women who felt called to the retreat from three different states.

Did it work? “Yes!” exclaimed Kling.  “Were there things I would have done differently? Sure. But we were blown away at the healing that these women experienced,” she continued. “It was almost surreal, seeing them achieve these breakthroughs on ZOOM.

“In the end, it turns out that Jesus can even use ZOOM to spread his healing touch!” Asked if she would do this again, Kling said, “Probably not by choice. I missed the hugs, but it is a great option to have in our back pocket.”

Rachel’s Vineyard Team lead in BH Pregnancy Center fundraiser

Carol Kling and Susan Gunn, walking around Shadehill in Lemmon. The women who walked on behalf of Rachel’s Vineyard ranked first in the BH Pregnancy Center fundraiser. (Courtesy photo)

By Family Life Ministries Staff

“It broke our hearts to cancel our Rachel’s Vineyard retreat this year,” says Carol Kling, Team Leader of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, “so finding another way to help other moms in crisis seemed to be a good way to keep our team united to our mission of caring for women in need.”

The Black Hills Pregnancy Center held their annual Walk for Life on Saturday, May 9, but unlike any other year, 2020 was a “virtual” walk. Participants still registered and pledged to raise donations, but they could walk wherever they wanted.

In a Facebook video to kick off the virtual walk, Fr. Adam Hofer of Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, offered the opening prayer, asking that “we may perceive more and more the profound dignity and right to life of every human person from the moment of conception.”

Travis Lasseter, the executive director of the BHPC also shared the story of Baby Alaine, the daughter of a client who has been helped by BHPC. From pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, to prenatal vitamins, diapers and parenting classes, the BHPC assists pregnant and parenting moms by providing appropriate resources and support for all impacted by an unplanned pregnancy.

Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry which brings hope and healing to the women and men who suffer from having made the choice of abortion when faced with a crisis pregnancy. Kling remarked, “Our hope is that women who are fearful or anxious about their pregnancies would find the courage to seek out Black Hills Pregnancy Center. If they could find those services in time, they would not need our ministry to heal their wounds of heartbreak and regret.”

Amy Julian, the director of Family Life Ministries for the Diocese of Rapid City, asked the Rachel’s Vineyard Team to consider participating in the Walk for Life as part of the USCCB initiative, “Walking With Moms in Need: A Year of Service.” “We hoped that we could remind women of the hope and healing that Rachel’s Vineyard offers, while we raised money for the moms who are currently in need,” Julian said.

The whole team agreed that asking for money was the most difficult part of the walk. But Kling recalled advice from Rachels Vineyard’s first chaplain, the late Fr. Will Prospero, SJ,over 20 years ago.

“I will never forget the lesson that he taught me when I was trying to raise the first monies for Rachel’s Vineyard. He said that by not asking for donations, it was on my soul that I was not offering the opportunity to people to receive graces from God by giving to his work. Wow! It was a lot easier to ask for financial support after that lecture!”

Father Will’s pep talk from two decades ago worked. As of the writing of this article, the Rachel’s Vineyard team of seven had raised over $1,200, ranking as the 1st place fundraising team for the Walk for Life, which inspired Kling to reflect “God is so good!”


How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion

Your heart goes out to your friend. You may or may not agree with her decision to have an abortion, but clearly she is hurting. And reassuring her that she made the right choice, or the only choice, doesn’t seem to be helping. The last thing you want to do is judge her, but how can you help?

Listen with your heart. Offer her love and support. But don’t try to minimize her pain. And lastly, help her to find the right kind of help.

Click here to read an article with lots of practical tips on helping your friend to find the healing and support she needs. Let her know about Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for healing. Encourage her to call Carol at 605-374-5639 or email ckling@sdplains.com.

Hope and Healing After Abortion

Why abortion is so painful:

If you’ve experienced abortion, you are not alone. About one in four women will have an abortion during their lifetime.      Many people who have experienced abortion have negative emotional and psychological symptoms that can affect them for years. If you feel guilt or shame after an abortion, know that hope and healing are available for you. To understand why abortion can be so hurtful, check out the following links.

For local information, contact Carol at 605-374-5639 or email at ckling@sdplains.com

Testimonials about Rachel’s Vineyard

I hesitated to come (to the retreat) because I knew it was going to be intense and I wasn’t 100 percent committed to the religious concepts (or I was leery of them).  The retreat far surpassed all my expectations.  I have never witnessed so much healing and relief from anything else I have observed or experienced.”

The most profound impact of my second abortion was what it did to my relationship with my husband and children.  I withdrew, participated way less in family activities, and found it hard to be emotionally connected to them.  My husband seemed to have something gnawing at him, and I was afraid it was hatred for me.  We went to the retreat three years ago.  It’s amazing to look back at where we were then and where we are now.  We are a healthy, thriving family with much love freely shared all around.”

For 18 years, I have been haunted with heavy guilt that no one could take away, tormented by thoughts of what my child would have been like.  Through participating in Rachel’s Vineyard, I was finally able to forgive myself.  I know that God has given me a peaceful mind, cleansed my heart, and has washed away my guilt.”

I experienced a great inner healing.  I would highly recommend this retreat to anyone who has felt the void and shame of the abortion experience.  It is a wonderful way to forgive yourself, find the completely unconditional love of Christ, and grieve your loss.”

No words can explain the healing that I experienced on this weekend retreat.  It was conducted with love and gentleness in an area of my life that was war-torn, raw, and bleeding.  God’s mercy and love was behind this retreat.  It was so important for me to dig deep and release the pain of the past.  I believe this made room and God, then, filled that room with genuine love for lost children, family, friends, and especially ourselves.”

It was the best weekend of my life.  I was able to share my grief, my guilt, my anger.  I was able to mourn the loss of my baby.  But most important, I was able to believe that she now lives with Jesus.  For a short time I could almost touch her and hold her and see her.  For this, I will always be grateful.”

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for Healing after Abortion

Abortion hurts. And regardless of your belief about whether an abortion is the right choice, it is always a painful choice. Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats offer a beautiful opportunity for healing anyone who has struggled with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion. Through a supportive and non-judgmental process, the retreat offers a safe place to find hope and to find healing.

Sometimes, we need to get away from the pressures of daily life to really discover the source of our pain. And once discovered and exposed to the light of Christ, that pain can be transformed. The mercy of Christ can penetrate even the deepest wounds, wounds which we might have thought were unforgiveable.

A Rachel’s Vineyard retreat consists of Spiritual exercises focusing on God’s forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. These spiritual exercises work on our hearts, while psychological exercises help us work through repressed grief and anger that may exist. Many preconceived fears of condemnation are transformed into blessings. Memories of abandonment, pain, and confusion are replaced by peace and reconciliation.

Rachel’s Vineyard retreat focuses on God’s love and forgiveness in a nonjudgmental environment.  Based in Catholicism, the retreat is open to and welcomes individuals of all denominations.

For more information, visit www.rachelsvineyard.org or contact Carol at 605-374-5639 or email her at ckling@sdplains.com