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  • 09 Jun 2016 9:32 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    The following is a guest post by one of our generous volunteers, Maria Elliott.

    In April, several of the Bethesda Healing Ministry leadership members attended a training entitled, “Understanding Abortion Grief, Denial, and Trauma Bonds” given by Trudy M. Johnson, LMFT, author of “Choice Processing and Resolution – FacingGrief After Abortion Without Fear.” Many of the truths and philosophies that Bethesda is built upon were reinforced, enlivening in all of us a renewed spirit. We wanted to share some of the key points with you.

    As we all know, life after abortion can often feel like a solitary road. 

    Picture via Pixabay user Unsplash, Public Domain

    But you are not alone! Since the legalization of choice in 1973, there has been an average of 1.2-1.5 million abortions every year. Processing your experience individually and with others can lead to present and future resolution and peace.

    Abortion grief is real and there are reasons that you feel this grief.

    Abortion stops pregnancy but not the bonding and connection. In 2002, researchers Anne Stevens, MD, PhD and J. Lee Nelson, MD published astonishing results of their Maternal and Fetal Microchimerism study. They report that cells traffic between fetus and mother during pregnancy, perhaps as early as 4-5 weeks gestation. These fetal cells persist for years, probably a lifetime in the circulation of normal women.

    The bonding between woman and baby is real.

    Women and men who have lived through the trauma of abortion are grieving many things:  the loss of the pregnancy, loss of relationships, the loss of dreams, and the loss of control.

    Yet this grief experienced from voluntary termination of pregnancy is often felt as culturally unacceptable grief. There is no permission or public venue to express feelings or grieve. Women and men often believe,  “I don’t have a right to grieve for a loss I was responsible for.”  So the loss becomes a secret. And a highly protected secret: one of the event and another of the grief and pain experienced. This secret often lasts more than 18 years!

    After holding such a secret for so many years, women and men affected by an abortion experience often conclude, “I don’t need someone to validate my choice. I don’t need someone to condemn my choice. I just need someone to validate my grief. “

    As human beings, all losses must be grieved. But often, because of the reasons described above, the grief becomes buried or denied. This buried or denied grief doesn’t just disappear, it comes out in other ways: anxiety, depression, anger, substance use/abuse, and destructive behaviors. Relationships also are greatly affected, for if you are numbing out emotions related to the pregnancy termination, you will also numb out emotions in relationships, leading to issues with boundaries, communication, anger, fear, and shame.

    Many believe that denial protects from the pain, but denial stops the grieving process and can lead to deeper and extended pain.

    There will be challenges to address the “secret”, but the process of identifying and processing the grief will lead to resolution and peace.

    Trudy Johnson describes: “Loss not grieved turns to sorrow in our heart. That sorrow manifests itself as depression or anger. Acceptance precedes change. Accepting that your abortion was a pregnancy loss will give you the permission you need to let yourself “go there” in your grief.”

    Bethesda is such a place where you can “go there.” Other women and men who are experiencing the same pain and grief that you do are willing to share your journey with you. For more information on abortion grief, denial, and trauma, please feel free to contact us.

    You may also find more information at www.Missing pieces.org  and Choice Processing and Resolution: Facing Grief After Abortion Without Fear by Trudy M. Johnson, M.A., L.M.F.T.

    “Tears have  a wisdom all their own. They come when a person has relaxed enough to let go and to work through his sorrow. They are a natural bleeding of an emotional wound, carrying the poison out of the system. Here lies the road to recovery.”  -- F. Alexander Magoun

  • 03 Jun 2016 12:02 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    By Nancy Madrid - BHM Volunteer Coordinator

    As many of you may remember, this past January, a major blizzard hit the East Coast at the same time as the March for Life. As many braved their way to Washington DC to give witness to the dignity and value of every life, the Catholic schools in the Columbus diocese were instructed to cancel their trips. St Charles Preparatory School was among the schools affected by the storm raging miles away. While the students of “Cardinals for Life, Dignity, and Justice”, St Charles’ prolife group, were disappointed, their director, Mr. Michael Warner, was seeking other opportunities for them to serve and be part of prolife work here in the local community.

    So, he contacted us!

    I had the pleasure of speaking with these young men at their regular meeting. I gave a brief overview of Bethesda Healing Ministries history and mission, as well shared with them our new promotional video. They were then invited to share in the work of the ministry by being our “helping hands”.

    The first task we gave them was to distribute Benefit Dinner bulletin board flyers to all the parishes that had agreed to post them. The posters and parish addresses were provided and they promptly ran with it, forming teams and delivering the posters as requested. They quickly reported back that the task had been completed!

    Next, they were asked to assist us by being available to receive and unload all the flowers being donated and delivered to St. Charles for the Benefit Dinner. They carefully unloaded the plants and stored them in a safe location. The following day, they were on hand to help with finalizing the table and room set up for the dinner. These tasks added up to a tremendous help to us and were greatly appreciated.

    We are so pleased to have the Cardinals for Life, Dignity, and Justice as part of our volunteer team now. The young men continue to serve the ministry by putting their energy to work at 5 Porticos. They have been to the center three times since the benefit dinner. One day was spent spring-cleaning on the inside (washing windows, wiping down lights, blinds, and walls, sweeping, etc.) Two more days were spent preparing, planting, and mulching all the flower beds. They have made 5Porticos an inviting place, from the driveway to the chapel. This summer they plan to come back to help with some painting and repairs.

    Although the young men of St. Charles were halted by the storm, God has used their desire to be part of the prolife work by uniting their energy and talents with Bethesda Healing Ministry. We have been blessed and look forward to working with them in the years to come.


  • 26 May 2016 10:16 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    Here is a beautiful and powerful radio show from The Catholic Doctors on St. Gabriel Radio, AM 820. It is worth the listen! The following is a link to the radio show on St. Gabriel and the second link is a downloadable file (right click on the link and save). 

    http://stgabrielradio.com/programs/audio-archive-2/the-catholic-doctors/

    CatholicDoctors_PostAbortion_051816.mp3


  • 13 May 2016 9:00 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    Sharing some of the good works of our friends...

    At the request of the members of the Catholic Faith community at the Marion Correctional Institute (MCI) of Marion, Ohio, a first-ever Catholic Retreat was held recently at that facility. As we are in the Year of Mercy, as declared by Our Holy Father Pope Francis, the inmates had suggested a theme of “Mercy and Forgiveness” for the retreat. As might be imagined, many incarcerated men suffer rejection or alienation from family members; often being labeled as the “black sheep” of their respective families. Hence, Catholic inmates reached-out to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and / or wives, to mutually immerse themselves together in an experience of this supernatural attribute of God, through this retreat.

    Msgr. Frank Lane’s soothing, pastoral counsels opened the retreat with his keynote conference, and later was celebrant and homilist at Mass. Former MCI Warden (and Marysville Our Lady of Lourdes parishioner) Mrs. Margaret Beightler expounded on the teachings and example of Pope Francis, especially as manifested in his recent U.S. visit. All were deeply touched by the powerful witness of Rachel Muha, who has resisted understandable emotions of resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness following the cruel murder of her son, but instead has chosen the Christ like option of channeling her deep sentiments into loving service to the disadvantaged, through her founding of the “Run the Race” Apostolate.

    Columbus chapter members of the L.M.C.’s (Lay Missionaries of Charity) were on hand to provide the service of serving a delightful lunch of pizza and pop, complete with lavish desserts (which it was hoped was not the real reason for the inmates’ attendance)! Other inspirational talks followed, interspersed with a praying of the Rosary, and concluding with a time of private audience with the ultimate source of mercy, namely through Adoration of Our Eucharistic Lord, and closing with Benediction.

    This post is courtesy of Fr. Joseph Klee. Photo is courtesy of MCI.

  • 11 May 2016 9:00 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    We just had to share this beautiful reflection with you...

    The Sisters have heard me talk about a phenomenon that I have never been able to forget. When I was a young priest teaching school I would take students into various segments of the “real world”. I would always take them, among other places, to a steel factory to see men working very hard under terribly demanding circumstances. It was a fascinating thing. All over a huge floor that seemed to go on forever were these great big stacks of twisted, broken pieces of metal. The metal was rusted and repulsive looking. Great big scoops would come, hanging from a crane, and pick up big mounds of metal and lift them up and hurl them into an open hearth furnace. You couldn’t look into the furnace without dark glasses on. The heat was incredible and the light blinding. That same metal would be scooped out and poured from a giant ladle into containers. As it would be poured down from fifty feet above, it looked simply like a stream of fire when it was actually molten steel. All of the ugly scraps of metal had been transformed by the fire, now in liquid form pouring down into the ingots. You couldn’t tell where the fire left off and the metal began.

    That’s what happens to the soul that is caught up in the furnace of Divine Love. This is what it means to be in Christ. We become so transformed that people aren’t sure, and ultimately you’re not sure, where Christ leaves off and you begin. Don’t we need that in this tired world? Don’t we need that in this culture that we read about? Sister’s you’re the ones thought to be melancholy and gloomy! You’re the ones thought to have deprived yourselves of so much by leaving what the world has to offer  so that you can offer the world infinitely more---the Light in the virginal womb.

    We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness

    -From the Sister's of Life, 6th Annual Discernment Retreat led by Fr. John Cardinal O'Connor

  • 27 Apr 2016 9:10 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    As affiliates of the Sisters of Life, we'd like to share this with you:

    Dear Co-Worker of Life-

    Please see below for our April Co-Worker of Life meditation and prayer intentions for the women and children we are serving in our Visitation Mission. May God bless you and your families!

    In Christ our Life,

    The Sisters of Life Visitation and Co-Worker of Life Missions

    *********************************

    Blessed is she who Believed

    Josephine had plans for her life: she was working and getting ready to go back to school; she even had a ‘vision board’ with all of her goals for the future. Getting pregnant before marriage was not one of them. When she found out that she was pregnant, one of the first things she did was find a priest to go to Confession. But the pressure from everyone around her was too strong and she made an appointment for an abortion. At the clinic, she saw a sonogram of her baby and received the grace to walk out. Then she remembered that the priest had given her our number and she called us. Now, just 24 hours later, she was kneeling in our chapel and praying this prayer:

    “Lord, I do believe that you have a great plan for me and this baby. I know that you will take care of me like you have always taken care of me.  I’m sorry for all of my sins; please forgive me. You know that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. It’s scary, but I believe everything will be okay.  I thank You, Lord, for all the many blessings of my life, and I thank You for the gift of this baby.”

    As she prayed this prayer, I was deeply touched by her courage and her extraordinary faith. It struck me that this simple yet profound prayer could teach all of us so much about the mercy of God and how to receive that mercy.

    The first thing we can learn from Josephine and her prayer is faith and trust. She is afraid, but she believes in her heavenly Father’s goodness and trusts in His providential care. Jesus told St. Faustina: “The graces of My mercy are drawn by one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive.” Josephine’s ‘yes’ to this child was and will continue to be an act of pure faith and trust in God. Even though she will be able to continue with many of her plans, her life will nonetheless change dramatically: she now has a little soul entrusted by God to her care. All of her family and friends are telling her she can’t do this, that it will ruin her life, yet by the grace of God, like Our Lady, she has the courage to say ‘yes’. She believes in God’s love and mercy and she trusts in His plan for her life. “Yes, blessed is she who believed, that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled." (Luke 1:45)

    It is this great faith and trust that Josephine has in the Lord that enables her to pray the second part of her prayer: “I’m sorry Lord for all my sins, please forgive me. You know this is the hardest thing I’ve had to face ….I know that You will take care of me.” In humility, she knows that she has done wrong, that she has many faults and failings, that she is a sinner. Yet she doesn’t let this discourage her or turn her away from God – rather by acknowledging her weakness, she also acknowledges her need for Him. Once again she trusts enough in the heavenly Father’s goodness and mercy that she knows He will lift her up. St. Peter Julian Eymard says “If you fall, raise yourself up again by humble trust and repentance. Self-abasement that is content to remain in its abjection is the same as pride humiliated and in defiance. Sincere humility flies to God on wings of faith.

    Josephine’s true humility leads her, and us, to the final and possibly most striking and admirable element of Josephine’s prayer, which is praise and thanksgiving – “ ... and I thank You Lord for all the many blessings of my life and I thank You for the gift of this baby.” She is not only grateful to God for the mercy He has shown her by forgiving her failings, she also recognizes the blessings of her life as mercy received from Him. With the eyes of faith and living in a spirit of gratitude, Josephine is able to praise and thank God in this situation of trial and uncertainty. This truly is the greatest and most beautiful expression of her trust in Him.

    Blessed Mother, we continue to celebrate in a special way in this Easter season the Passion, Death and Resurrection of your Son, in which He reveals to us the depths of the Father’s love and mercy. Please, journey with us and help us to open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive His fathomless mercy. With great trust, humility and gratitude we join with the whole church in proclaiming that “His mercy endures forever!” (Psalm 88)

    Amen.

    ***********************************************

     

    For Veronica, that she may receive prudence to make an important decision regarding her family and for the grace to continue to choose life.

     

    For Patricia and her children, that she may receive continued grace, encouragement, and hope in the midst of the variety of demands in her life.

     

    For Raquel, who is facing family and financial difficulties, and for the healthy growth of her twins.

     

    For Maria, who needs to find a safe place to live and a job, as well as inner healing.

     

    For Marcela, a college student who needs support to continue with her classes as she embraces her unexpected pregnancy.

     

    For Natalia, that her baby may have a safe and healthy delivery.

     

    For Monica, who is a college student due to give birth at the end of April, that her delivery and semester may go well.

     

    For Jane, who gave birth this past month and is need of prayers.

     

    For Ellen, 20 years old, that she may have the courage to move forward in her pregnancy.

     

    For Victoria, that she may receive strength and grace to continue to choose life and for the conversion of heart of her family and friends.

     

    For Gina, who is in need of prayers for her health and the health of her baby.

     

    For a miracle of healing for baby Margaret through the intercession of Blessed Margaret of Costello.

     

    For Ashley, who is adjusting to motherhood and is struggling to do it on her own.

     

    For Melanie, that she may have the courage to stay away from an abusive husband.

     

    For Susan, who is hoping to move toward marriage with the father of her baby, for guidance in their relationship.

     

    For Terri, that she may have perseverance in choosing life.

     

    For Barbara, age 17, who is vulnerable to abortion, that she may have the courage to choose life.

     

    For Elizabeth, a vulnerable pregnant woman who turned around from an abortion clinic, that she may have the grace and courage to continue to choose life.

     

    For Mary, age 15, for the grace and strength she needs to choose life.

     

    For Freddy and Gianna, for openness as they return to the Sacraments, and clarity as they struggle with decisions about their future.

     

    For Sally, that she may find a job and proper housing.

     

    For Chiara, that she may be set free from addiction and find a good job and housing.

     

    For Stephanie, Yoli, Kenya, Rachel, and Reauchine, as well as their children, for every grace they need as they journey through our RCIA program. 

     

    For Beth, for healing in the relationship with her mother, and that she may find proper housing.

     

    For Nicole, that she may get into the parenting college program she has applied for.

     

    For Diane, that she may find a good job.

     

    For Jasmine, that she may have the grace and support to choose life.

     

    For Tanya, for her health throughout her pregnancy and that she may find steady work.

     

    For Judy, for the courage to choose life.

     

    For Tess, that she may have the grace and support she needs to choose life.

     

    For Diana, that she may find a job.

     

    For Jodie and Carrie, for spiritual healing.

     

    For Yolanda, for healing for her marriage and for her discernment.

     

    For Fred, for healing from addiction.

    For Olivia, Georgia, Susan and Nancy, for their strength.

     

    For Rose, for the grace to choose life and for healing of her insomnia.

     

    For Brenda, for the grace to choose life.

     

    For healing for Terry and Layla.


  • 19 Apr 2016 11:31 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    The devil often tells two lies to women who have had an abortion.

    The first one is before the abortion: “Abortion is not really a big deal-you will never regret this action” and the second one is after abortion: “Abortion is such a big sin that you can never be forgiven or healed.” The second lie is even more insidious than the first because it makes women despair of God’s mercy. Both lies are told to the woman in isolation, and it is precisely through a relationship, through a community, that these lies are exposed, first perhaps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then enlarged upon in the prayerful space at Bethesda. Within the safe space of the Bethesda community, men and women can finally open themselves more fully to the grace and loving mercy of God.

    The Lord Jesus promised that he would be present in a community: “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be in their midst” -and this promise is visible and realized at Bethesda.

    Please help women who may feel isolated in this way find Bethesda. Share this post, ask to have it shared in your church bulletin, tweet it, pin it, and please pray for the men and women in this ministry. Thank you!

    Thank you to Seminarian Jonathan Howell for writing the bulk of this post


  • 19 Apr 2016 11:28 AM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    Mercy changes everything. No truer words have ever been spoken. There are moments or encounters in our lives where Jesus' mercy not only touches you, it transforms you.

    As a post-abortive mother, I struggled for years with accepting mercy or forgiveness into my heart. I didn't believe I deserved it. After all, I committed the ultimate sin. How could God forgive me? How could I go back to my Catholic roots and be involved or accepted back in the church again?

    I spent a portion of my young adult life coping ineffectively from my painful choice to terminate my pregnancy. As years unfolded I sought out, and went through a couple of different post abortion healing programs. I received a lot of healing, but I never felt fully forgiven, or at peace with my relationship with God or myself.

    I came back to my faith and I received healing through Reconciliation, which brought me some peace and a deeper level of faith. As life continued on I became caught up in my life and family, but I wasn't

    completely happy, or joyful.

    A few years ago, after church one day I was looking through a bulletin and there it was.... It was an ad I had seen before, but that day it was different. It pulled me in, and I felt the Holy Spirit gently prodding me to call the number. So I did, I reached out to Bethesda Healing Ministry's confidential phone number. After speaking with one of the ministry team members, I had an open evening that allowed me to join the

    next meeting.

    What I encountered that first evening at the meeting was beautiful. I encountered hope, acceptance, friendship, humility and compassion. I

    encountered God's mercy in a way I had never experienced before. I saw joy and I heard laughter and I saw many tears all flow in one evening. There was a safety and a knowledge that I knew whatever I shared was kept in confidence. I also felt a sense of belonging and support/family, that was ongoing and continuous, which allows a person to establish trust and be vulnerable again! The men and women I met that night traveled a journey similar to mine and they were finding or found peace in their hearts.Seeing that gave me hope that I could achieve that as well, and I knew it would start there.

    That evening I left feeling as if I not only felt Jesus, but I met Jesus in the people who fed me, hugged me, prayed with me and listened to me. That night was the first night that I experienced a joy and a peace

    that I never knew before. I have been attending those meetings on and off for a better part of five years now. As the years passed, I accepted his forgiveness, and I then extended it to those Jesus called me to forgive.

    His mercy changed everything in my life! It changed my heart, and I have found joy and peace in my heart, and spirit. I came out of my fear filled isolation, I no longer feel uncomfortable in my own shoes. I know I am a loved woman of faith, and of God! Mercy restored my faith, gave me self-confidence, self-love and a peaceful self-esteem.

    Over the last two years I have volunteered my time to help other men

    and women struggling and suffering from the painful emotional, spiritual and psychological effects of abortion. God does not desire for any of us to condemn ourselves for our choice. He wants to take the suffering and pain we experience, gently heal it and bring us closer to him and show us who we are in him. He is such a gentle man, so kind, so forgiving and he waits patiently for us to choose him. If you are reading this, and you too have felt lonely, isolated, hurt and fearful of rejection or have carried the burden for a long time. Please know we love you, and Jesus does too. I know your pain, I know your struggles and I understand your suffering. You are not alone and please do not suffer alone, please know his mercy changes everything. -MB

    This post also appeared at Divine Mercy for Moms and CatholicMom.com

    Copyright © 2016 Mary


  • 15 Apr 2016 5:31 PM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    From our appeal at our dinner on April 14. Help us reach out to men and women in need of healing. Help us reach out to people in our communities and give them information on this type of healing. Donate now

    The financial goal for this evening’s event is 150 thousand dollars. It is a lot of money, but there is a lot to accomplish. Bethesda Healing Ministry KNOWS it is NOT yet a household or parish name. We are asking you to please help change that by supporting an increase in ministry outreach educators and programs by which all will come to know the calling, the gift, and the presence of Bethesda Catholic Christian Post Abortion Healing Ministry.

    For 22 years this ministry has been a ministry of GOD’s MERCY. All service, care, and ministry provided to those suffering from the after effects of abortion have been provided at no cost to them. Most of this is accomplished through generous individuals volunteering their time. Most of Bethesda Healing Ministry staff and volunteers are on call 24/7 responding to phone calls, inquiries, and support of those seeking spiritual, emotional, and psychological help.

    This past year volunteer hours were tracked through sign-in log books. In one year’s time, easily 6,000 man hours were logged dedicated to one on one care and for programs such as retreats, seminars, outreach, and support for affiliates around the country. This affiliate support includes 25 requests from other dioceses wanting to model the Bethesda Healing Ministry program. The need for this ministry is growing.

    In order to answer this need, we need to support our volunteers, staff, and religious. This is where you can help through your generous support. We need your support to promote the necessary growth of Bethesda Healing Ministry.

    Judy Schlueter, who was called to serve as foundress, to provide a vision, to grow, and to extend the arms of outreach in Ohio, and now in dioceses throughout the United States, must prepare Bethesda for the future. This cannot be accomplished without paying for a number of positions that we no longer can ask of our volunteers. Out of fairness to the volunteers and the staff for the amount of work they are asked to accomplish, we feel that we now need to offer certain compensation.

    First, leadership is crucial. We believe our goals cannot be accomplished without paying someone to serve in the position that Judy has held as foundress and volunteer. This change drastically alters the financial demands on the work of Bethesda. 

    Some in the business world have suggested that such an encompassing position, which oversees with advice, consult, and all aspects of leadership, is worth $60K. We know after some years of trial and error that Bethesda must discover and recruit a leader for a full time position with necessary benefits for no less than $50K. Bethesda does not have such resources as ALL of the Bethesda ministry team has served without pay. Currently, only two part-time staff support the business aspects of Bethesda Healing Ministry. This includes the administration, development, financial affairs, promotion, and more. Because this small team has less than 28 hours a week to accomplish all of this, the work of Bethesda is hindered in its ability to respond to very real needs of organization, outreach, formation, information sharing, and programming.

    In addition, other competent staff is now critical for the growing need for promotion through social media, marketing, website improvements and maintenance, print materials, advertising, and other tools. Funding is needed for contracting these critical and specialized roles upon which the outreach of Bethesda Healing Ministry is essential.

    This evening you experienced the beauty and quality of work of Producer/Director Peter Messmer. Bethesda Healing Ministry has been approached about creating other DVDs in Spanish as well as continued educational DVDs, which will both require financial underwriting. These DVDs are important tools for Bethesda Healing Ministry outreach both locally and in other dioceses in the country.

    Our new website with capability to increase outreach through all forms of social media is still under construction. We will need for an individual to sustain and grow these resources as well as graphic artists to create brochures, materials, informational booklets, cards, and tools for better communication. Bethesda Healing Ministry is already and will continue to market itself as a place for people to experience healing.

    On September 17, 2016, Bethesda Healing Ministry and the Pontifical College Josephinum as well as Bethesda Healing Ministry affiliates, will have coordinated and collaborated in another annual Bethesda Healing Ministry FORMATION DAY. It is absolutely necessary to equip our priests with an understanding of the real and personal effects of abortion so that they can assist, as effectively as possible, those whom they meet in their ministry.

    One day of this formation will be on campus at the Pontifical College Josephinum and a second day has been requested. Costs will include preparation of the site and programming for 40 seminarians, 20 affiliates from around the country, local mentors in formation, ministry, and association members.

    In addition, Bethesda Healing Ministry is already in consideration for an at large community educational program offered by Project Rachel foundress, Vicki Thorn. Such a program will require underwriting and will expand universal understanding of most up to date research and information on this important topic of post abortion trauma, especially in light of cultural misinformation about this issue. This project is currently slated for 2017.

    Bethesda Healing Ministry has received an invitation for ministry formation leadership to consider offering a seminar in Phoenix, Arizona. It is time to offer stipends to presenters in order to continue to have quality outreach and support. It is also time to provide additional resources for the ministry team for their own continued formation through retreats, seminars, and classes. This includes payment for travel and other financial support. This financial help is a means of showing our gratitude.

    In January we received a request from St. Charles students to assist Bethesda Healing Ministry in outreach by delivering information packets to pastors and parishes within an hour travel time. We will be coordinating with St. Charles for this generous gift of student service. However, staff and travel reimbursements will be needed.

    Bethesda Healing Ministry also realizes there is a need for increased programs and means by which Bethesda might support diocesan priests in the tender and important work of this ministry. A ministry that is faithfully Catholic yet welcomes individuals of all denominations.

    Finally, our Annual Event Dinner and fundraiser creates expenses of about 40 thousand dollars. Through this event, we make aware to all the presence and heart of Bethesda Healing Ministry in a holy and beautiful way. This event is our only fundraising event and we desire to keep it that way. Please help us accomplish that feat by giving generously tonight.

    Bethesda Healing Ministry would like to take a moment to acknowledge the participation of the Pontifical College Josephinum seminarians as ministry pastoral support.

    Bethesda would also like to make known our appreciation for all the time and treasure given to this ministry by its volunteers. It is Bethesda’s hope to be able to provide those precious volunteers with salaried hours where justified and, in time, small stipends. Currently, the gentle ‘women and men’ who give without pay, often do so at a cost to themselves. To date, none of the eight women involved in the Bethesda Healing Ministry team receive stipends or reimbursements for travel or personal expenses. It is now time.

    As you may now realize, your contributions this evening are critical. We must collect $150K this year to not only sustain the ministry but, in fairness, provide for those who are on our staff. This staff also needs the resources to make Bethesda Healing Ministry more effective and available to all in need. 

    Please consider donating today through our website: Donate now

  • 08 Apr 2016 12:25 PM | Kathy Conway (Administrator)

    What Makes a Catholic Ministry Catholic? 

    The mission to the afflicted Isaiah: 61:1-2
    The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn.

    I come from a family of 5; Mom, Dad, and two younger sisters. I was baptized Catholic as a baby. My Mom took us to weekly mass. My childhood was okay (or at least I thought at the time). However, I now realize that I dealt with a lot of verbal and emotional abuse. My Dad would say things such as: ” You need to lose weight” or ” Why can’t you be smarter like your youngest sister?” These are just a few examples. They are the ones that have stuck with me most. My Dad rarely gave hugs or said, ” I love you.”When the time came, my Mom made every effort to provide us with a Catholic education by going to Catholic schools. While attending grade school kids in my class were constantly making fun of me. While attending Catholic grade schools this meant a lot to me for many reasons.Mom worked extra hard to give me the privilege to attend a school where we had daily mass and religion classes taught by nuns. Also, I had the opportunity to receive all the Sacraments. After, graduating from 8th grade I started going to a Catholic High School. The kids continued making fun of me. Many of my friends had boyfriends or girlfriends. Not me. No one was ever interested in me.At this point I was convinced ” I was an unattractive, overweight person.” I felt, ” I would never amount to anything.” During HS, we had the chance to attend mass and religion class. I consistently attended weekly mass with my family. During my senior year, my parents after 20 years of marriage divorced.I then graduated from HS and furthered my education by attending a Catholic college. I would be living on campus. I stopped going to church with my family. I went to class, but I also started going to parties, bars and clubs, and occasional drinking.

    Some of the guys would show interest in me. Boy, did I love the attention! They’d tell me all sorts of things. ” You are so attractive.” Or ” I’d really like to get to know you.” The lines go on. They’d give me their numbers and we’d meet again. Eventually, all my weekends consisted of having fun on the weekends by going out and partying. I would even put off my homework just so I could see the guys.

    My first year of college was over and I decided ” College wasn’t for me at this time.” So, I didn’t go back. I searched for employment. I soon started working. I met a guy and we started dating. We dated for 3 years. We broke up at one point and when we got back together we had sex one time and I got pregnant. When I was 6 months pregnant I found out that he was getting married to someone that he’d been dating since we got back together.

    I was devastated. I became very depressed. I had a boy and went on being a single parent. After, about 4-6 months I was back out at the clubs and living a promiscuous lifestyle. I ran into a guy I knew from the past and we started talking. One thing led to another and I got pregnant. I went to Pregnancy Decision Health Centers to confirm the pregnancy.

    I told the guy and he said, ” So what are you going to do? I am not ready to be a father. You need to have an abortion.” I was speechless. I knew this was a wrong choice. But, I thought to myself, ” This is my only choice. I was already emotionally and financially struggling with one child.

    I felt there was only one other person I could tell and that was a friend who got pregnant in her teens and decided to have an abortion. She said, ” I wouldn’t have an abortion, if I were you. She had regretted her decision. I never talked to her about it again.

    I knew I couldn’t tell anyone in my family because they were already upset that I had to raise my son by myself. How could I disappoint them again? I just went on and called the abortion clinic and got the information that I needed. I drove myself to and from the clinic, got an ultrasound, filled out the paperwork, and paid for the abortion alone. They gave me information about the procedure and advised me there maybe some physical symptoms afterwards, but they wouldn’t last long.

    I went very quickly thru the doors without looking back. When I got to the room I placed a picture of my 1½ yr old son over my chest and began to cry. I was never so scared and alone. The doctor came in and spoke very briefly. I don’t recall the actual conversation or anything involving the procedure. I then went to the recovery room, where they checked my vitals and I was sent on my way.

    I then went straight back to work. I did have some of the physical symptoms they’d talked about but they soon went away. I went on with life as ” Nothing had ever happened.” I started going back out to the clubs. I met another guy and I moved in with him. We started having sex and after, about 1 yr I was faced with another pregnancy.

    I was very hesitant to tell him. I feared he’d say the same thing the last guy had. Finally, I told him, ” I was pregnant and if you don’t want this baby I will have another abortion like I did before.” Thankfully he said, ” No, he’d be there and wanted to keep the baby.” So, I did go on with the pregnancy and had a girl.

    During the years following, I was diagnosed with anxiety/panic attacks and was suffering already from depression. I suffered from bad relationships, low self-esteem, and the list goes on. I went back to Pregnancy Decision Health Center because I just couldn’t take it.

    I talked with a counselor and somehow my abortion came out. She advised me that I was suffering from Post Abortion Syndrome. She referred me to a counselor who had experience in post-abortion counseling. She has helped me in dealing with the abortion and issues relating before the abortion and issues and challenges I have faced as a result of the abortion.

    Shortly thereafter, she took me to a mass. This mass was different from the others I have been to. It was called a Mass of Comfort. Bethesda Healing Ministry is in charge of making this possible. The mass is for men and women who have suffered the loss of pre born children. I then received a phone call from one of the companions who was assigned to me. We talked on the phone for a while and I just couldn’t believe that she had an abortion.

    She seemed to have it together. I attended 2-3 meetings and then it was time for the group to take a short break for the summer. It seemed like a break that would last forever. Well, my companion and I had agreed to meet during summer once a week. We worked on issues of the abortion by working in a healing manual. There were times I felt “Clueless” and that there wasn’t any hope for me.

    I had not been familiar with Scripture and didn’t understand how I could get through all these feelings. Well, finally the time came for the group to start again. I hardly said 2 words. But, as time passed I started to say more. I would sometimes sit there and think, ” There is no way some of these people had an abortion. They seemed to have it together.

    They’d always say, ” They were right where I was before and in time I would start seeing changes in my own life.” I found this so hard to believe. A number of times I would cry and couldn’t explain why my companion would often say ” Tears are good.” I never understood that either.

    During the year, I wanted to know the actual month/day of my abortion and wondered, ” Why I couldn’t remember?” The director would say, ” If, it’s meant to be, it will happen?” It will be in God’s time. “The father who was involved with my decision of aborting my child stopped by my home. He wanted to know if I had really gone through with my abortion. At the time, I felt, ” How did he have the right to ask me these questions after all these years?” 

    Well, instead I told him about the ministry and shared with my manual. He said, ” Over the years when things went wrong, he’d think if it had to do with his decision in making me have the abortion?”I didn’t really say too much to that, but I did realize that he’d thought about it and that was enough for me. At that time, I said to myself, ” I forgave him and would move on with my own healing.” I wished him luck. A few days later, I went to a wonderful priest name Fr.Lutz. I talked with him briefly regarding my abortion. His words that God had forgiven me were hard to believe. When I finally confessed the sin I felt ” relief”. He gave me a hug and said, ” Good luck on my journey of healing and God Bless.

    I then attended my first Bethesda fundraiser. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I was so touched by the witness that year Liz Brown. She had said to me, ” Angie, this will be you in a few years.” I thought, ” There is no way!”I attended Bethesda’s annual retreat. I was very nervous, yet felt very safe. I knew many people but really didn’t know what to expect. I heard people sharing their abortion story and often thought, ” How I’d like to give a witness someday.” A group of Bethesda Companions and I met. I mentioned to them, I had wanted to go to the clinic where I had my abortion and obtain my medical records.Liz asked me, ” Angie, would you like for me to take you?” ” Yes, I replied with relief.” 

    We decided to go on July 2nd. We were both very nervous and said prayers as we went into the building. The lady at the desk was rude. She asked, ” Why do you want your medical records?” While finding the words to say, Liz said, ” Because they belong to her. It is her right to obtain them.”I was so thankful and so proud of her. She found the words that I was desperately looking for. The lady said, ” Well, I am very busy so it may take awhile. You’ll have to sit and wait.” “Fine, we’ll wait,” said Liz. We sat and waited for a couple of hours. While sitting there I tried to recognize anything that may have looked familiar or even the smell of something. Eventually, another lady came out with my paperwork.We paid the cash that was required for them. We looked over the papers and most of them were very unclear. But, we could read the date of the abortion, which was Dec 12, 1997. I cried and cried. The tears were tears of sadness but mostly of relief. I finally knew the actual date. It then made sense why I had always been very emotional in December. I always thought it was because of the holiday stresses.

    During, winter quarter 2003 at Columbus State, I took a Speech Class. I had to give 2 speeches. One was an Informative Speech in which I talked about Post Abortion Syndrome. The 2nd was a Persuasive Speech that was based on facts, statistics, and a true story of my abortion. The class responded positively. There were people crying, giving me hugs, and very understanding. I knew I had made some sort of impact on their lives.

    I took another step in my healing journey at this point. I named my baby. His name is Jordan Christopher. I went to my 2nd annual fundraiser. I had another great pleasure to hear a witness give her talk. She did an exceptional job as well. I said to myself, ” How I wish that could be me?” And as God always answers prayer, he answered mine. I had the chance to share a book called, ” Mommy Please Don’t Cry” at the annual retreat and give a short testimony.

    I ended my 5 yr relationship with my daughter’s father and made him move out. At that point I made a decision to live a chaste life. I had the great honor of giving my talk at Bethesda Companion Training Day at the Pontifical College Josephinum. I spoke in front of my Bethesda community, which includes those who are going through the healing journey, the chaplains and seminarians who are with us.

    My testimony was well received. These seminarians gained more knowledge of the effects abortion has on both men and women and how to help someone assist in their own healing. This year has just started off by being a great year already. In January, I sat down with my parish priest. I shared with him my abortion experience and my involvement with Bethesda. I had shared with him my desire to take the next step and that was to tell my Mom and two sisters.

    They surrounded me with tears and comfort. I know it was difficult for them to understand why I had made such a choice. They did ask some questions. They were so supportive and just wished I would have told them sooner so I didn’t have to go thru this alone. They were thankful to my counselor and the support of the Bethesda ministry.

    I thank God that we have the support and the presence of the seminarians and priests who are and have been a part of Bethesda. I can honestly say each one has had a huge impact on my life and for that I will be forever grateful. Their presence at each one of our meetings is just as though God is visibly there. The Bethesda community is made up of people coming from different backgrounds. Our leaders share our abortion experiences in their hearts and the rest have had the abortion experience.

    By working the manual and reading Scripture, we grow closer to God and deeper in our Faith. We come to believe that we are forgiven and that we are all children of God. We know that our child or children are watching over us. By sharing our own personal story we have a better understanding of one another and this gives us opportunity to know each other better.

    By coming to the Bethesda meetings I’ve learned so many things that have been a part of bringing me back into the church. I have learned more about the Word of God. I have learned that Jesus loves me no matter what. I now go to reconciliation on a regular basis. I know now and believe, ” No sin is too great for God to forgive as long as you are truly sorry for that sin and have faith in him.”

    About 1 yr ago, I started going back to church. I attend weekly mass with my 2 children. They attend CCD class while I attend RCIA. They have been learning so much. They love to say prayer daily. Now, some really exciting news! My children will be baptized into the Catholic faith tomorrow. This is a tremendous blessing to me. I have wanted and waited for this day for so long.

    I guess looking back into my life I realize God has always loved me. I just didn’t love or respect myself. I thought God was punishing me for all my mistakes. God has always been a true presence in my life. I just chose to be blinded by the wrong people and made wrong choices.

    As you can see since coming to Bethesda, I have made some big changes and progress. I went from saying 2-3 words to giving speeches. I went from people taking advantage of me to standing up for what I believe in and in myself. I went from so-called friends to true friends. I went from having very low self-esteem to higher self-esteem. Most of all, I have found my “true” home again. I am now with God. I know I am in a safe place.

    In conclusion, I just wanted you all to know why I chose abortion and how I found my way back to the church. I thank all my family, friends, and support system. But, most important ” I thank God because ” Without him things are impossible.” Again, ” The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; Thank You!

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