“I didn’t think I needed it,” said Alecia Turner of the invitation to attend a five-day Grief to Grace Retreat in Phoenix through Restore Dignity. “I didn’t think my current-day struggles had anything to do with my past.”

As she explored the timeline of her life, Turner realized that with her abuse history she would benefit from the faith-based, holistic program designed to help participants address abuse-related trauma through a Catholic lens.

“It did take a lot of humility and it was a leap (attending the Grief to Grace retreat), but I had hope because I was talking to the Restore Dignity people,” Turner said. “I realized that healing is possible.”

Now three years later, Turner has a better relationship with her husband, Nick; she has developed deep, rich friendships; and she is also more present to her seven children emotionally, spiritually and physically, which has helped them thrive.

Restore Dignity is a Phoenix-based nonprofit healing ministry for survivors of traumatic events. The non-profit group provides confidential support and tools to help survivors “heal and understand the fullness of dignity they possess in Christ.” Dr. Theresa Burke, the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion ministry, created the Grief to Grace international program, and Arizona is only one of five states that offer it.

Alecia Turner and her husband Nick sit on a bench with their children. Alecia, who suffered from abuse-related trauma, found healing after attending Restore Dignity’s Grief to Grace retreat. (John Bering/CATHOLIC SUN)
Charity and Development Appeal (CDA)

The Charity and Development Appeal supports more than 70 educational, charitable and spiritual organizations which counsel, feed clothe, house, educate and comfort those in need throughout the four counties in the Diocese of Phoenix.


Amy Corrieri, executive director of Restore Dignity, said they are now expanding throughout northern Arizona and throughout the diocese. She said the group has a strong collaboration with diocesan clergy who offer Mass, Adoration and Reconciliation for retreatants in addition to professional counseling throughout the five-day program.

“Women and men are able to realize more of their potential and to flourish when these wounds are healed and they understand their dignity, and that they are beloved and have a purpose,” Corrieri said.

She said there are typically two types of people who go on the retreat. The first is those who have been working on getting healthy but can’t achieve peace and healing.

“They are willing to do this because it is a very unique experience with proven results,” she said.

The other type may have had someone suggest the retreat or they may have just recently begun to connect symptoms with the root cause.

“They may have never realized that they have been carrying a wound their whole lives,” Corrieri said.

Restore Dignity is one of more than 70 ministries, organizations and agencies that receive support through the annual Charity and Development Appeal.

Dr. Anne Vargas-Leveriza, director of the diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection, said her office frequently partners with Restore Dignity, and she recommends the Grief to Grace Healing Retreat to anyone who comes into her office and needs healing.

“At Grief to Grace, they tie the psychological with the spiritual to find the healing,” Vargas-Leveriza said.

She said she is especially grateful they now have retreats in both Spanish and English to serve more people throughout the diocese.

Turner said during her retreat she learned, “When we have wounds, we are not able to receive fully the love that Christ has for us.”

“Before the retreat, I never had a reprieve from suffering,” Turner said. “And didn’t even think it was a possibility. It felt like that was just existing.”

Alecia Turner tends to a garden with her husband Nick and their children. Alecia, who suffered from abuse-related trauma, found healing after attending Restore Dignity’s Grief to Grace retreat. (John Bering/CATHOLIC SUN)

“After the retreat, I finally had a break in that suffering, where I felt true peace and true joy,” she added

Turner said the relief from her past wasn’t immediate, but through the monthly support group meetings, guidance from Restore Dignity staff, and further counseling, Turner she has been able to experience full joy and peace in Christ.