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Chosen – for Project Rachel

Yesterday, Saturday, June 16th, I was privileged to fill in for Bishop Estevez at the annual Commissioning Mass
For Parish Respect Life Coordinators throughout the diocese. As you may well know, speaking out and taking action to
increase sensitivity to the escalating disregard for the sanctity of life here in America, let alone worldwide, has become a
personal avocation, a heightened area of moral concern. We have an excellent core of committed pro-life advocates here
in the parish, many of whom have been active since my arrival here ten years ago. While these loyal
disciples-for-protection-of-life are a bright spot in our parish, unfortunately they are but a “spot”. By that I mean their
numbers are disappointingly small…totaling an average of 12 to 15 individuals, and shrinking, due to age and health
attrition.

If I took an exit poll as people left each Mass on Sunday, I dare say that very close to 100% would identify as
being “Pro-Life”. Therein lies the dilemma. Actions speak louder than words. While we have grown significantly in the
past five years, more than doubling the number of families, with almost 750 registered families in our parish.
Unfortunately, the number of families, actively engaged in at least one ministry, has decreased. All of our ministries,
which provide us all with an avenue to be good (read active) and faithful stewards; faithful disciples of Christ, are in
need of increased membership.

Harkening to the sobering reminder (from Jesus Himself) about protecting the victims of abortion and euthanasia;
“Whatever you did not do for the least of my brethren, you did not do for me”, (emphasis mine). There is no greater
moral travesty afflicting our nation than the wide-spread, barbarous disrespect for life, legalized abortion, and now,
ever-increasing numbers of State statutes legalizing euthanasia, or-so-called “Mercy Killing.” Do we care? In our hearts,
I believe all genuine Christians do. But, are we willing to add to that innate concern and repugnance, a commitment to
speak out, and devote some precious time to actively participate in some facet of our Respect Life ministry? I hope and
pray that you will feel so moved.

Our Bishop has made the respect for all life a heightened priority. This past year he appointed a new Diocesan
Director for the Office of Human Life and Dignity, May Oliver. Ms. Oliver, for many years has been the primary
director and organizer of the annual, and highly successful, March for Life in St. Augustine. May has requested our
parish to, in addition to our weekly, prayerful standing at the Abortion Mill, to also “major”, or place a specific emphasis
on promoting and supporting “Project Rachel”.

For those unaware, Project Rachel, founded in 1984, is the Catholic Church’s ministry to those who have been
involved in abortion. It 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 referring for
Sacramental Reconciliation, the ministry provides an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling,
support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professionals. The name is drawn from the reference in
Scripture to Rachel, “Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no
more” (Jeremiah 31:15). We must be mindful that it is quite normal to grieve a pregnancy loss, including the loss of a
child by abortion. It can form a hole in one’s heart, a hole so deep that sometimes it seems nothing can fill the emptiness.
I am still looking for a third person to complete our quest for a “Tri-Chairmanship” for this ministry. The
“tri-chairmanship” prevents anyone from being overburdened. Please pray over this opportunity for effective
discipleship. In addition, I would love to see many additional volunteers become active in this fantastic outreach
opportunity, to comfort our neighbors in distress. I just read that although the rate of abortions per 1000 women of
child-bearing age has decreased by almost half since 1981, women having an abortion for the first time has fallen even
more dramatically. However, (and this is where we can step in with Project Rachel awareness) the proportion of women
having repeat abortions has been steadily rising. At last report, it was 45% of total abortions. These are the women
(though they may deny it) who are suffering the most. And these are those who we also hope to draw into the self-forgiveness
and self-healing of a Project Rachel encounter.

Healing comes from the project’s available counseling, support groups, retreats, as well as referrals to licensed
mental health professionals. Give serious thought, about you and a friend, reaching out to help those in distress, and join
our Respect Life Ministry. That will certainly receive a “Well done my good and faithful servant”, acknowledging that
as you do this good deed (for the vulnerable) you are also doing it to Him. Please call me if you
would like to discuss this undertaking further.

Yours in increased love for life,