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Project Rachel

By Tom Grenchik, executive director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
 
For any of us who have joined in a Divine Mercy Chaplet a few times, the response is automatic.  We simply hear: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion…” and our lips are already responding with: “Have mercy on us and on the whole world.” 
 
How consoling it is to embrace our Lord’s Divine Mercy and be confident in His forgiveness.  We know He will forgive any sin, if we are truly sorry. But for some, especially those who have lost a child to abortion, trusting in that forgiveness is not so easy. Even if they trust in God’s capacity and overwhelming desire to forgive them, they still often struggle with forgiving themselves. 
 
Many in our culture are deeply wounded, including many Catholics who are in great need of God’s mercy and healing. Twenty-eight percent of women having abortions identify themselves as Catholic, which translates into as many as 10 million Catholic women affected by abortion. An equal number of men have been involved, even if the extent of their involvement was to abandon the woman on discovering she was pregnant. Then there are the grandparents, other family members and friends who have also been affected. The impact on our culture and our Church is far-reaching.
 
Rare is the individual who has not encountered the trauma of abortion in the suffering of friends and family members.
 
Immediately after the 1973 Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion in our land, the U.S. bishops not only condemned that action, but they also prophetically called for the creation of diocesan post-abortion healing ministries as an integral part of the Church’s pro-life response. Being pro-life means being missionaries of mercy to those now suffering from a past abortion.
 
Project Rachel, the Catholic Church’s ministry to those who have been involved in abortion, is a diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors and laypersons who provide a team response of care for those suffering in the aftermath of abortion. In addition to offering sacramental reconciliation, the ministry provides an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professionals. For many who struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness, Project Rachel can gently open the door to embracing His forgiveness and mercy, as well as learning to forgive oneself and praying for the forgiveness of one’s child.  
 
In a homily as chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Boston Cardinal Seán Malley stated: “The Good News is that God never gives up on us. He never tires of loving us. He never tires of forgiving us, never tires of giving us another chance. The Pro-Life Movement needs to be the merciful face of God....”  
 
The bishops are firmly committed to extending that offer of God’s infinite mercy. More and more dioceses are increasing their pastoral outreach to women and men who have lost a child to abortion.
 
To find information on the Church’s resources near to you or a loved one, visit HopeAfterAbortion.org or EsperanzaPosAborto.org.
 
For information about the Project Rachel Ministry in the Diocese of Burlington, go
vermontcatholic.org/index.php?sid=5&pid=1050&subnav_id=100009
 
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This article was originally published March 21, 2014, in the USCCB Life Issues Forum.
 
  • Published in Nation

Obituary: Sister Mary Clare Naramore

Sister of Mercy Mary Clare Naramore, 102, of the Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community, Vermont, died at Mount St. Mary Convent in Burlington on April 12, in her 73rd year of religious life.
 
She was born in Lowell on May 28, 1914, the daughter of Louise (Stephenson) and Donald Naramore. She attended Lowell grade school and Peoples' Academy in Morrisville. She also attended Strayer Business College in Washington, D.C., and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in education.
 
Before entering the Sisters of Mercy, she taught in Lowell Village and Westfield schools and worked as a clerk in the Valley Savings Bank.
 
She became a Catholic in 1942; she entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 8, 1944, and made her profession of vows on May 16, 1947.
 
She taught in parochial schools in Burlington, Barre and Montpelier. Following her retirement from education, Sister Naramore served as a volunteer missionary to Matsu, China, for 11 years. When she returned from China, she worked in prison and hospital ministry.
 
She is survived by her nieces, Mary Speroni and Nancy Naramore; a cousin, Irene Hayes; and by her sisters in religion, the Sisters of Mercy. She was predeceased by her parents and her brother, William Naramore.
 
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at 11 a.m. in Mount St. Mary Chapel. Visiting hours will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a prayer service at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 17, at Mount St. Mary's. 
 

Campus Compact honors St. Joseph's Residential Care Home

Vermont college students, faculty, and staff will gather on Friday April 7th, 2017 at the Community College of Vermont's Montpelier Campus to celebrate individual contributions and the collective impact of higher education in service to Vermont.
 
Three awards will be presented to students, faculty, staff, and organizations who partner with our colleges and universities to meet community needs.  Honorees include:
 
The Engaged Educator Award is given to a faculty member who has made public service an integral part of their teaching and research to the benefit of both students and the community. This year's finalists include:

Laurel Butler, Vermont Technical College

Kelly Hamshaw, University of Vermont

Kathy Fox, University of Vermont

Moise St. Louis, Saint Michael's College

Allison Cleary, Saint Michael's College

Robin Collins, Champlain College

Faith Yacubian, Champlain College

Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College

The Engaged Student Awards are given to one student or student group at any Vermont campus for both the breadth and depth of their community involvement.  This year, the following students will receive these awards:

Kimberly Payne, Community College of Vermont

Chelsea Colby, Middlebury College

D. Sydney Rybicki and Erin Buckley, Saint Michael's College

Sarah Franco, Champlain College

Morgan Easton, Vermont Technical College

Elizabeth Boley, University of Vermont

Shanely Marmolejos, Southern Vermont College

The Engaged Partnership Award is given to honor a partnership between a community organization and Vermont campuses that has been leveraged to address real and pressing community needs.  This year's finalists include:

Elise Schadler of Urban and Community Forestry for her partnership with the University of Vermont

Open Door Clinic for their partnership with Middlebury College

St. Joseph's Residential Care Home for their partnership with Saint Michael's College

The event will also feature a panel on "Civically Engaged Careers" which will spotlight the experience of four young professionals, each of whom have incorporated civic engagement into their professional lives.  The panelists include: Colin Robinson, Political Director at the Vermont National Education Association; Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont; Dana Gulley, MBA Student in Sustainable Entrepreneurship at the University of Vermont; and Robyn Baylor, AmeriCorps VISTA Program Director at SerVermont.

The panelists will answer questions and share stories to inspire civically engaged undergraduate students to continue that engagement as they progress in with their professional careers.To learn more about the work being done by students, faculty, and campuses to positively impact our local and global communities, visit our websitewww.vermonthec.org or contact Kim Coleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pro-Woman Is Pro-Life

Recent cultural conversations on the importance of women's advancement have increasingly included abortion access, perpetuating a tragic assumption that 'pro-woman' and 'pro-life' are diametrically opposed viewpoints. This belief ignores the full reality of the beauty and dignity of all human life. To be pro-woman is to be pro-life; one cannot exist without the other.

Abortion has negative outcomes for both a woman and her child, with the two-fold loss including both the destruction of the child's very life and the destruction of the mother's well-being. The aftermath of abortion for a woman often includes psychological traumatization, and sometimes physical harm. Far from promoting dignity and freedom, abortion promotes the lie that a woman must harm herself and her child in order to be free.

The idea that abortion empowers women is one of many lies in society that are, in reality, incredibly harmful to women. How many other areas in culture have women been told to endure pain and a "quick fix" for their own advancement, whether through the fashion industry, eating disorders, or cosmetic surgery? Abortion advocates perpetuate the myth that women must "jump through hoops" and do violence to themselves in order to preserve their equality and the freedom to advance in the world. 

Many women have rightly rejected the myth that they must "jump through hoops" just to be acknowledged and valued as human beings. The authentic, pro-woman position demands a woman be loved and valued for her own sake, exactly as she is—not because she has compromised herself. Abortion is anti-woman because it attacks some of what is most true and beautiful within a woman. Abortion is the very antithesis to a woman's ability to nurture and bring forth new life. 

Abortion advocates treat pregnancy like a problem or a disease. Pregnancy is not the problem; it's the lack of care for the woman—for her own dignity and life-giving ability—that's the problem. When society devalues motherhood and the ability to nurture life, making these things a source of shame and inconvenience, it increases the likelihood of a woman feeling like she has no option other than to abort her own child.

We are called to love. A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy should never feel like she must face it alone. She needs to know that others truly care about her dignity and well-being, and that there is help through a variety of sources, especially from local diocesan resources like the Respect Life office, Catholic Charities office, or local pregnancy help centers and maternity homes. Both mother and child deserve experienced care and compassion; both deserve a future filled with hope. 

As we bear witness to and build the culture of life, in what ways can we show support, both for mothers facing unplanned pregnancies and for all women and the unique challenges they face? Society often objectifies women and tells them they need to reject their procreative and nurturing abilities just to be equal to men and to feel respected. But there is much we can do, in our personal witness, to counter these lies. When we celebrate and support women in all their unique gifts and contributions—including their life-giving capacity—they will be encouraged to make life-affirming choices for both themselves and their children.

To be pro-woman is to be pro-life. If we want to change the cultural conversation, we must be a part of it. 


--------------------
Kimberly Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on local help for any woman facing a difficult pregnancy, please visit www.heartbeatinternational.org.
  • Published in Nation
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