By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — A new program to assist those dealing with various forms of grief is being developed and will be piloted in the Diocese of Davenport, Archdiocese of Boston and the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. From there, Maria Bain, executive director of Hope and Healing Ministries, hopes to make the program available to all dioceses in the U.S.
With the support of Bishop Martin Amos, Bain is developing the “Compassion of Christ” program. She began work on this new venture July 1.
Hope and Healing Ministries began in 2005. Prior to beginning that ministry, Bain offered a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in 2004 for those suffering from the effects of abortion — both men and women. From there she approached the Diocese of Davenport about continuing that ministry with a focus on healing.
“Msgr. Bob Gruss was so impressed that he asked if we could offer a retreat for sexual abuse survivors,” Bain said. As a result, when Hope and Healing Ministries was formed, it offered help to those suffering from the after-effects of abortion and sexual abuse.
Dan Ebener, then-social action director for the Davenport Diocese, assisted in obtaining grant money to start the ministry. Priests in Iowa’s four dioceses also were helpful in supporting Hope and Healing Ministries, Bain said.
Although the retreats were successful, she discovered that some people were dealing with other forms of grief that needed to be addressed: healing for soldiers and the divorced and those suffering from domestic abuse and addictions, for example. “There is an immense need to care for the spiritually hungry and dying,” she said. Hope and Healing Ministries is “a beacon of light reflecting the heart of God to those who seek him in the darkness of human suffering and sin.”
That’s why Bain is developing the Compassion of Christ program and plans to focus efforts on that aspect of Hope and Healing Ministries. She has turned over the Rachel’s Vineyard program to Kris Gaspari. (See accompanying story.)
The Compassion of Christ program would offer a licensed counselor, priest and lay volunteers serving as team members. The program would have some flexibility for the facilitator in order to offer whatever type of healing is considered necessary. “For example, if you’re facilitating a retreat for prison ministry, you need to have a different focus than a retreat for domestic abuse.”
Throughout the next year, Bain will create, write and pilot her program. “I have been praying about this for two years,” she said.
Once the program is piloted “we can see if any changes need to be made.” Following any adjustments or changes, the retreats will be available for all dioceses.
“I believe God called me to this,” Bain said. “I suffer from an abortion and abuse. It’s my story. I have witnessed brokenness and spiritual hunger for all types of healing on the retreats I have facilitated.”
Since Hope and Healing Ministries is a non-profit 501c3 organization, it depends solely on contributions.
To help Bain “plant a seed toward wholeness, healing and new life” for others, donations can be sent to Hope and Healing Ministries, PO Box 2772, Davenport, Iowa, 52809-2772.
To become a partner or volunteer, ask questions or offer assistance or to send a prayer commitment in writing, write to the address above or e-mail Bain at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also is available by phone at (319) 530-2597.