Early in September, I traveled to Newark, New Jersey, to participate in a “Grief to Grace” retreat. This retreat was written by Dr. Theresa Burke, the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for healing the wounds of abortion, but Grief to Grace has a different focus — healing the wounds of sexual abuse.
I became interested in Grief to Grace when, in the fall of 2018, I participated in the Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference, in which leaders of Grief to Grace also joined. It was there that I began to learn more about the depths of the pain of sexual abuse, and the healing that people were receiving through Grief to Grace. So after some prayer and discernment, and some fundraising, I decided to go to a Grief to Grace retreat myself.
It was one of the most powerful things that I have ever done in my life. With 22 years as a Fathers of Mercy mission priest under my belt, and loads of powerful experiences with Parish Missions and Retreat on two continents, that is saying quite a bit! I was able to work through some powerful emotions and receive healing for some grief that I suffered, particularly with the illness and death of my brother Matthew (who died from lung cancer in November 2017). In addition to my own healing, I had the privilege and joy of accompanying my brothers and sisters in Christ in their own healing from emotional and sexual abuse.
I would highly recommend that any member of our Confraternity (and really anyone else) who has suffered from past emotional or sexual (or physical) abuse should make a Grief to Grace retreat. You won’t regret it!
And please pray for me, and some friends of mine, as we discern the possibility of bringing this powerful retreat to the American Heartland here in Kentucky.