By Caryn Stevens, Director – Abortion AfterCare-Healing Ministry
The International Rachel’s Vineyard Leadership Conference this year was an incredibly spiritual and enriching event! The Conference was held in Northern California, high up in the Diablo Mountains, at the San Damiano Retreat House – named after a tiny Italian church near Assisi, where St. Francis began the Franciscan tradition. There were about 150 representatives, both Catholic and Protestant, from all over the United States and the world! Some came as far away as China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Africa and Australia! There were 3 other Texas cities represented including teams from Corpus Christi, Lubbock and Amarillo. And, speaking of Amarillo, Father Mark Clarke from the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life (or MEV) was also present for the entire week. Of course, Theresa Burke, founder and Executive Director of Rachel’s Vineyard, was there and lead some incredible classes as well as spiritual gatherings. Finally, as long as I’m name-dropping, our fabulous and fearless Father Frank Pavone was there on Sunday for Mass and a rousing talk!
According to Theresa Burke, Rachel’s Vineyard is growing and spreading like wildfire across the globe. In 2006, RV anticipates over 350 RV weekends for healing. The ministry itself continues to expand at a 40% growth rate. Priests for Life, who has partnered with Rachel’s Vineyard, helps with this rapid growth by assisting Rachel’s Vineyard in spreading the word about hope and healing throughout the world.
I felt especially close to God through the incredible mountain scenery and beautiful landscape of flowers and trees at the retreat center. Deer and other wildlife came within feet of me and I was amazed at God’s beauty. Among all the splendor and majesty, I really felt like a speck in this great big universe – and yet, God picked me and the rest of mankind as His chosen ones, His precious children. St. Francis has always been one of my most favorite and beloved of all the saints, so it was especially profound being in this beautiful place of serenity and solitude, honoring this great Saint and renewing my relentless pursuit at living out my discernment and following God’s will for my life.
PRAYER BEFORE THE SAN DAMIANO CRUCIFIX
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart.
Give me true faith, certain hope
and perfect charity, sense and
knowledge that I may carry out
Your Holy and true command.
- Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to discern God's will
Submitted by Caryn Stevens
November 15, 2005
© 2007 Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas. All rights reserved.