Rachel’s Vineyard brings healing to post-abortive women

Sonia was out of options. She lost her business, lost her home and was living on the streets, pregnant and afraid. Although she was taking classes at a local community college, she had to drop out.

“It’s so hard to carry everything you own with you,” Sonia said. “Your feet hurt, and on the hot days, it’s really difficult. I just wish that people would realize that it can happen to anybody.”

Sonia, who said she once drove a Lexus and lived in a beautiful home, said she lost everything after the relationship with the father of her children fell apart. She filed for bankruptcy and although she could sometimes stay with friends, she often ended up on the street.

She wound up living in a shelter but wondered what would happen after her baby was born.

“It was a very nice place and it was clean. But the alternative would be to take my baby back to a shelter with four other women. I can’t even imagine that,” Sonia said. “I think about that all the time — how grateful I am for Maggie’s Place.”

It was at Maggie’s Place that Sonia found the stability, love and nurturing she and her unborn child so desperately needed.

The Phoenix-based organization has three homes in the Valley where pregnant homeless women can stay during their pregnancy and with their babies for up to six months after they give birth. Since its founding in 2000, 498 babies have been born to the women served by Maggie’s Place. There are currently 21 women residing in a Maggie’s Place house in Phoenix.

“They helped me tremendously in so many ways,” Sonia said of her experience. “They gave me everything I could have wanted or needed for my baby. It’s just a very loving environment.”

Not only did Maggie’s Place give her a roof over her head, staff there helped her get referrals for jobs and schooling. They also showed her how to live in community and gave her a stable place for her older three children to visit.

“The staff there is amazing,” Sonia said. “They helped me get back on my feet.” Today the mother of four is living in transitional housing and looking toward a brighter future.

Part of what impressed Sonia about Maggie’s Place was the central role of faith and prayer. She appreciated the onsite chapel and the daily community prayer.

“It really brought me closer to God and gave me a better relationship with Him, and I value that a lot,” Sonia said. “The staff is always in there praying.”

During Sonia’s stay at Maggie’s Place, she was referred to Rachel’s Vineyard, a retreat program for post-abortive women. Many women who have had abortions suffer intense guilt, shame and regret over their decision to end their babies’ lives.

Rachel’s Vineyard offers them a three-day retreat where they learn to express their bottled-up feelings and deal with the trauma of their abortion experience. Sonia had never spoken to anyone about what she’d done.

“For so many years, I just punished myself because I was ashamed and I regretted it,” Sonia said. “I still regret it to this day. I never told a single soul.”

The Rachel’s Vineyard retreat she attended helped her find God’s forgiveness and peace. Part of that process included mourning the child whose life was cut short.

“You have a funeral for the baby and they make you name the baby,” Sonia said. “The retreat is wonderful and I wish everybody who’s had an abortion could go there because it really made a big difference.”

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The Charity and Development Appeal supports more than 65 educational, charitable and spiritual organizations which counsel, feed, clothe, house, educate and comfort those in need throughout the  four counties in the Phoenix Diocese.

The CDA has raised some $7.3 million so far this year to support charitable organizations like Maggie’s Place and Rachel’s Vineyard. To learn more about the CDA or donate, visit the web: