By Anne Marie Amacher
“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God — the rest will be given.” – Blessed Mother Teresa
The dignity of person is what Hope and Healing Ministries strives to help restore for people who have experienced an abortion, sexual abuse, violence or other wound to the mind, body or soul.
Maria Bain, executive director and founder of the Davenport-based ministry, said the number of people seeking help and attending the ministry’s retreats is up, but finances aren’t keeping pace. “We are at a crossroads.”
In 2001 Pope John Paul II told the Missionaries of the Precious Blood “Your Congregation from the beginning understood the importance of the Lord’s words: Duc in altum! (“Set out in deep water,” Luke 5:40) … Go where others cannot or will not go and undertake missions which seem to hold little hope of success. I ask you to continue your efforts to build a civilization of life…”
Bain said, “This statement embodies Hope and Healing Ministries’ mission. It is our desire to go into the dark places of human pain and bring Christ’s light, hope and healing. We experience the Paschal Mystery where in dying we are born to eternal life. Each participant has faced the death of their soul, united their pain with Christ’s suffering and shared in his resurrection by being forgiven and starting over. It is our ultimate goal to build a civilization of life by reclaiming each person’s dignity.”
But this mission requires money. Because of funding shortfalls, Bain is the only paid staffer now. In addition to organizing retreats, she also does speaking engagements.
Hope and Healing Ministries was founded in 2004 on a volunteer basis. The first retreat drew 15-20 participants. The next retreat drew 40. “I saw that this was going to be more than a part-time job,” Bain said.
The ministry began in the Diocese of Davenport as post-abortion healing before expanding to serve victims of sexual abuse and others. In 2006 Bain started Hope and Healing Ministries on a full-time basis. Because of funding constraints, it is no longer funded by the diocese.
Hope and Healing offers those wounded by abortion or abuse — many of whom turn to alcohol, drugs and eating disorders — to experience “the love of Christ and a chance to start over and share in his resurrection.”
The next retreat, called Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, will be held Nov. 6-8 in Newton. It is open to women and men seeking spiritual and emotional healing, especially victims of abuse, sexual abuse, post-abortion and other crises. What is shared at the retreats remains confidential.
Vicki Tyler, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf, is a professional counselor who volunteers at several Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for Hope and Healing.
She and her husband, Todd, attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat four years ago to start their own healing journey after Vicki had an abortion decades ago.
“It is a powerful way for men and women to share their stories with one another and to know that they are not alone — that others have experienced similar things.”
Participants explore Scripture and engage in activities that promote healing, “letting go of the babies we have lost” and understanding “the love that Christ has for all of us no matter what we have done in our lives,” Tyler said.
“Shame impacts self-worth, poisoning everything a person does or tries to accomplish,” she continued. “They have no self-confidence and cycles of unhealthy decision making continue to plague their lives. That is why so many women have multiple abortions.”
Dan and Daphne Davis attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat to heal from the wounds of abortion. The couple was engaged when Daphne found out she was pregnant and had an abortion. They married, but neither talked about the abortion.
Daphne said she became depressed, had panic attacks and was on one anti-depressant after another. She started abusing alcohol to escape and had an affair. Dan saw his wife’s life falling apart. The couple eventually had two daughters, both of whom brought them joy. But their marriage continued to be rocky as she struggled with alcohol abuse and depression and both were unfaithful.
Feeling hurt, they started going to church and attended a marriage class and began working on rebuilding their marriage. Then they learned about Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and decided to attend.
“The weekend was more than what we could have ever imagined,” Dan said. “There were other women hurting the same way my wife was. I thought I was OK with my decisions, but what I found was that I was hurting from the shame and guilt of abortion.”
“That weekend was incredible,” Daphne said. “I had no idea that I didn’t have to live in this silent hell. I finally put peace on this horrible act. We gave our child life and grieved its loss. We shed God’s light on the darkness in my heart.”
Since the retreat Daphne appreciates how Rachel’s Vineyard continues to communicate with the couple to make the healing process easier. “There is hope,” she said.
“Lay your guilt at the foot of the cross and start to live again,” Dan said.
Hope and Healing Ministries is seeking financial support and board members who can help market the ministry. Maria Bain, founder and director, encourages board members to attend a retreat to learn all about the mission of the ministry.
It is funded through private donations, speaking engagements and retreat fees.
Cost for a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is $300, with scholarships available.