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Phone 416 629 8264
or
Project Rachel
Project Rachel
Our leaf-strewn lane

Project Rachel

Our Vision

Providing post-abortion help in a confidential and non-judgemental way which always includes peer ministry, for women and men who are still hurting as a result of a past abortion experience.

Our Work

We offer accompaniment, counselling, personal presence and support, and other services at any time they are needed by women or men. We also offer weekend retreats which provide opportunity for women who have suffered from an abortion experience to find healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Our Retreats

Our retreats are offered at least twice yearly, generally May and October. They provide a beautiful and secluded setting, personal and shared reflection, a compassionate, non-judgemental leadership team, and accompaniment through the steps of healing.

Please contact us for upcoming dates, in confidence, by telephone at 416 629 8264 or by e-mail at projectrachel@stmarysrefuge.org.

Our Foundations

This is a pro-life work that is a unifying force in the church—which has been in the forefront of protecting women and children from the abuse of abortion. As a woman of the Archdiocese of Toronto who attended one of our retreats wrote about the experience, “I've been touched by God in ways I never knew I could encounter.”

We are encouraged in this ministry by the words Pope John Paul II wrote to women who have had abortions: “With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.” (Evangelium Vitae #99)

Our Testimonies

(Anonymous)

“When I first came to the retreat in the fall of 2014 as a participant, I was so broken and in need of spiritual healing. From the moment I stepped foot inside the lodging, I knew I had arrived at the right place. I was made to feel so welcomed and cared for. I was embraced by warmth, love and compassion. I instantly felt the presence of the spirit through the wonderful people around me.

Although every part of my human mind was wrestling against going that weekend, I knew that deep inside me was a stronger power that was telling me to ignore all the countless excuses which were shadowed by fears – and to just go – against all odds. I cannot tell you how glad I was for obeying that voice inside me.

I cannot begin to explain the depths of the inner work that began to take place within me, as the weekend progressed – so much so that I did not even realize that my entire being – body, mind, and soul were being transformed into something so incredibly wonderful – that only the love and forgiveness of God can bring about. The inner healing work of my soul began to take birth in me that autumn weekend, at that very sacred place in the woods.

Needless to say, the gratitude I felt coming away by the end of the weekend had made such a permanent mark in my heart, that the only thing I knew to do was to once again be led by the spirit and return to the retreat this spring (2016). I knew, once again, it was the right time for me to return. As I have learned, healing takes place gradually, one layer at a time. It was in this way that the next level of healing began for me, as I returned, this time, as a team member. Once again, the familiar surroundings, my connection with the warm, and friendly faces, and the nature outside, set the tone for what promised to be another transformational weekend for me. The setting, environment, scriptural meditations, the large and mini group talks and the spiritual worship in the beautiful chapel, which epitomized the entire experience – all played a part in the amazing healing for me that weekend. Thank you to everyone who touched my heart, through the grace and the merciful love of God. What a wonderful gift Project Rachel is!”

Meredith

“It was my first time coming to the Refuge. My focus was only to serve, serve women who have been hurt from the aftermath of abortion. As we drove up the lane I realized that this is a holy place. The feeling just intensified throughout the weekend, and I had this funny feeling that this would not be my only trip here. The Project Rachel team was filled with beautiful people. We all came with our own brokenness, but were wounded healers to each other. Praise God, He was present all weekend for all of us, but especially to the women who needed to feel his unconditional love. It rained most of the weekend and the bugs were out but that didn't stop God from working all weekend through the team and the retreatants. The healing was undeniable. I was especially moved by the beauty of the chapel, where we had a moving memorial service on Saturday night. Project Rachel helped these women sanctify their past, know that they are forgiven and to just surrender and let Him heal! We as team got to humbly witness the miracles all around us that weekend, whether it be through the people, the wonderful food, the hands that made it, or the natural setting of the Refuge itself. I give thanks for all the people who could make this retreat possible within such a place of beauty and awe! Mary of Egypt . . . pray for us!”

Angela

“I first heard about Project Rachel back in October while volunteering at St. John the Compassionate Mission. I took an immediate interest in it. Although I had not lived through an abortion experience myself, being a nursing student I saw Project Rachel as an excellent learning opportunity.

This past May, I had a chance to join the Project Rachel team as an observer. I came with an open mind and supportive attitude. I knew that some of the people I would meet would be carrying burdens that I probably could not imagine let alone relate to. I had a lot to learn from everyone. I was most eager to learn about what it took to help someone who had lived through an abortion experience find healing. After all, it is what I’m studying to do, to help people from all walks of life find healing.

The Project Rachel retreat began and before long I realized it was not going to be exactly what I had expected. In fact, I wasn’t really sure what I had been expecting all along. By the end of the weekend I had learned a lot. I learned more about abortions. I was privileged enough to learn a little about the Project Rachel participants and the team members. I also learned about some of their personal experiences with abortion and the impact it had had on them emotionally, spiritually, and socially. I learned; that was what I had expected I would do.

When I signed up for the Project Rachel retreat, I had not realized how much more was in store. I was a little surprised to find that the retreat was largely focused on God and our relationship with Him. Even when participants and team members told their stories, the focus was on our Lord and Master; how He loves with an unconditional love and how He looks at each of us with eyes full of tenderness. The stories were told and received in light of this reality.

In that light, I was no longer hearing their stories as an outside observer. I was listening as a fellow human being. I found something I did share with those who had had an abortion experience. They shared with me in a struggle; the struggle to accept a love so perfect that I could never possibly earn it, to open my heart and accept this unconditional love despite the burden of my shame, to surrender and come to the One who freely calls me beloved.

By the end of the first night I was no longer there to observe the retreat participants on their healing journey. I was there walking alongside them, carrying different burdens but able to relate to the journey. I rediscovered that healing can only begin once we have allowed ourselves to feel loved. There is a longing in every human heart for love, a longing that is never fully satisfied by anything or anyone other than the One who created that heart. Much loneliness and anguish rises up from that unfulfilled desire. We can begin to heal when we begin to open our hearts to God and allow Him to fully satisfy our longing for love.

It is not difficult to be led to believe that we are not worthy of that love that we so desperately need. But C.S. Lewis says that ‘(the Christian) does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.’ We must surrender and open our hearts to accept a love that we did not earn. As difficult as this can be for us, it is this love that makes us good, it is this love that makes us whole. In my brokenness and imperfection I am loved. This unconditional love is what heals my brokenness and frees me from my burdens. My Project Rachel experience was much more than a learning experience; it was an opportunity to rediscover that the journey towards healing is really the journey towards opening our hearts to accept God’s perfect love. In His love there is healing.

To all those who attended this retreat, I pray that it was a step forward on your journey to find love, healing, and peace as it was for me.”

Our Suggestions for Reading

  • How to Talk to A Friend Who's Had an Abortion
  • • CT Coyle, PhD. Men and Abortion: Finding Healing, Restoring Hope. New Haven, CT: Knights of Columbus, 2009. (booklet)
  • • Theresa Burke. Forbidden Grief. Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2002. (A book dealing with what is called “traumatic reenactment” as it pertains to women dealing with an abortion loss.)
  • • Melinda Tankard Reist. Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief After Abortion. Australia: Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000.

©2017 St Mary of Egypt Refuge • Queensborough, Ontario, Canada • Phone 416 629 8264 • Facebook