By Celine Klosterman
Maria Shores says she knew that in doing what God called her to do, he’d provide.
That attitude has bolstered Hope and Healing Ministries’ director as she’s worked to sustain her four-year-old ministry beyond its initial funding, a “very generous” grant from St. Vincent Home Corporation. The corporation doesn’t have a policy of providing ongoing funding for programs the size of Hope and Healing.
So the ministry has now turned to churches and individuals for donations to help people suffering after an abortion or sexual abuse.
“We’re providing the same services, but we’ve had to scale back,” Shores says. Hope and Healing, which became a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization Dec. 8, has gone from offering seven retreats a year to three. And Shores now relies on volunteers to help in the office.
She and Hope and Healing’s board of directors are “trying to lay the groundwork so we continue to be financially viable.”
Donations seem to be her best hope. Shores has looked to other dioceses in which Hope and Healing has organized retreats, but says they told her they weren’t able to fund the ministry. And she sees little potential for civic-group grants because abortion is controversial.
As she’s seeking funding, 70 people sit on a waiting list for a Hope and Healing-sponsored Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for post-abortion healing. Thirty-two people are on a waiting list for a Hope and Healing-sponsored Committed to Freedom retreat for sexual abuse survivors.
Two Rachel’s Vineyard weekends are scheduled, but Hope and Healing isn’t financially able to offer the Committed to Freedom retreat this year.
A letter from one Rachel’s Vineyard retreat participant explains the desire for Hope and Healing’s offerings. “Kara,” who said she’d been sexually abused as a child and aborted several babies as an adult, wrote that counseling and medication hadn’t helped enough. But the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat offered what she needed, and she has since gotten involved at her parish and teaches children with learning disabilities.
Shores still works to bring healing even to people suffering from everyday trials. Last month, she advised youths at Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond to have the courage to ask Jesus for healing in perhaps a family or school problem.“I want people to know (Jesus) is someone they can rely on to get through struggles."
She welcomes invitations to speak to other parishes, too. Hope and Healing Ministries also welcomes prayers, donations and volunteers to help with marketing, administrative duties, retreats, answering a 24-hour hotline, fundraising and many other tasks. For more information, call (563) 322-1645 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.