Spring 2021 Greetings
to our English-speaking friends...
from the Rachel's Vineyard Italy Mission!
With the arrival of Spring the Covid plot thickens.....
As the U.S. makes slow but real progress, with vaccination numbers
steadily increasing and hospitalizations and deaths decreasing, Europe
is in the grip of a major 3rd
wave of the pandemic with the highly contagious U.K. variant
particularly prevalent in Italy and vaccination efforts faltering
across the continent.
Italy is again on severe lockdown through Easter.
In Bologna (the travel hub of the country and for 10 years where we've
offered our retreats), hospitals are full to the brim - presently with
twice as many in the ICU as there were during the peak of the 2nd
Down south in Puglia, our own
city's extra Covid wards built last Fall for overflow now have all beds
This ongoing nature of the pandemic obviously continues to impact Rachel's Vineyard worldwide. Our program's strongpoint has always been the in-person 3-plus-1 day
retreats that have proved so effective in helping women, men and
couples work through their abortion-related grief and move toward
healing and new beginnings.
Over 25 years Rachel's Vineyard
has grown from its humble roots in
a Philadelphia home office to its current global outreach to those
seeking not just good advice, but a lived experience of connection and
community as they undertake their healing journey after abortion. From
the time I
pioneered this ministry in the San Francisco Bay Area back in the 90's
to the 10 years in which my husband and I have now led this Mission in
Italy, there's been no lack
of challenges that my collaborators and I have had to overcome.
Covid is a challenge like none other we've faced so
far. Like schools and businesses, we are heartbroken to not be presently able to receive in person those who need us. Our
dedicated team continues to companion those reaching out to us as well
as using this time for ambassadorial work among clergy and mental
health professionals, for ongoing training and formation.
In February, twelve team members from all over Italy participated in such a formation.
Our late March formation will include even our more peripheral
collaborators. This time is well spent as we learn much from one
another and from those we're companioning.
Our team psychologist is even planning to start on a theatre piece
transforming the opening chapter of our foundress' book into a one-act
play. She and a former participant have been invited to do a podcast on
after -abortion sponsored by graduate students at a prominent arts and
communications school in Torino. And another team member is beginning
to write her testimony for book publication.
So this is a fruitful time, indeed!
Like most Rachel's Vineyard teams worldwide, we are preparing to start Covid-adapted retreats again in 2021,
yet we will likely have to continue more individualized forms
of companioning until Fall. We are strongly considering
offering via Zoom the very rich meetings we'd started a year ago,
giving women and couples the chance to get to know our team over
an evening of mutual sharing, and the opportunity to experience in
miniature a bit of our "method".
In short, the beginning of 2021 is filled with pregnant anticipation of an eventual return to normalcy, as
well as behind-the-scenes prepararations to adapt and innovate.
At this critical time we ask your continued prayers and faithfulness in supporting the Italy Mission!
Our fixed costs of approximately $450/month remain in force, and our early 2020 activities required investments we knew we would not recoup
through program fees, yet we undertook them nonetheless, confident they will yield
results down the line.
Please consider sending an Easter 2021 Gift to the Italy Mission in recognition of our team's dedicated apostolic work, which continues even in this time of Coronavirus crisis. The Italy Mission must still fully self-finance its activities,
and our ongoing stateside relationship with the 501(c)3 organization Rachel's Vineyard of Colorado continues to facilitate your active role in helping meet that need.
Our Easter 2021 Response Form details how to make a tax-deductible Gift to the Rachel's Vineyard Italy Mission, to be sent by check to California for forwarding to our sponsor, Rachel's Vineyard of Colorado.
If you are of an age to take an IRA required minimum
distribution (RMD), I invite you to join a couple of our longtime
donors in making a qualified charitable contribution (QCD) to the Italy Mission. In this way our ministry benefits while you can exclude that income from your tax return.
Taking retirement account withdrawals (RMD) this year or next?
We invite you to consider a Qualified Charitable Contribution to the Italy Mission!
I invite you to plan ahead for 2021 and
consider including the Italy Mission among the charities to which you
direct a QCD from your RMD. (You can split your contributions among as many
qualified charities as you wish, and for our part we will ensure that
you receive an acknowledgement proper to this form of giving.)
Please contact Italy Mission director Monika Rodman at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this RMD/QCD possibility.
This "10th anniversary" year 2020 started out with innovative
activities in Rome and Milan. (We got home on one of the
last long-distance trains leaving Rome, just as Italy's first
Covid-drama was rapidly unfolding and the first lockdown was imminent.) We were unable to carry out Spring programs
in Venice and Bologna, and these venues will likely be among our first in-person offerings when circumstances allow next year.
Our foundress has published Covid Protocols to be implemented at
all retreats held in 2021 and I continue to consult with Rachel's Vineyard leaders around the world, as many teams are brainstorming on how to best proceed. We've already found
high quality transparent masks (used with the hearing impaired) and face shields
that will be used at our next in-person gatherings.
The larger of the 2 retreat houses we've used these first 10 years is
closed for rennovations, and the other retreat house is small enough
that we may consider doing a first year 2021 retreat specifically for married couples. This
would allow us to use the double rooms which, due to space limitations, we'd otherwise have to use
as singles - a measure that would dramatically increase our costs.
Needless to say, this is not how we hoped to conclude our 10th Anniversary year of Rachel's Vineyard Italy activity. But we are not throwing in the towel, and we pray you'll stick with us!
In short, we are persevering through this
difficult and unprecedented time, discerning how to best continue to
welcome and companion those who find us days, months, years or decades
after their abortion experience.
Thankfully, technology permits us to still reach those in need of
after-abortion support and our dedicated team members remain available
to assist them with the generosity of time and spirit they have always
One woman wrote starkly:
seen your site and need your help. I thought I could deal with this on
my own, but I can't. Help me, because in this already difficult time of
the virus, I just can't manage my own."
And another woman began her correspondence:
don't know if I'll be able to come to the next retreat, but I just want
to thank you because knowing you're here helps me see a glimmer of
light in the darkness of my existence... This is a pain I've carried
inside for so long because I feel ashamed to confess it to a priest. I
would so like to make this move now, to be able to return to the
eucharist. My mother's recent death has brought up this pain. I helped
her in her final year of life, but only with her bodily needs. I'm
devastated that I wasn't able to help her spiritually because of this
unresolved problem of mine..."
Through past participants and other contacts in her area, we were able to direct this woman to a
welcoming priest and to offer her telephone companioning by one of our team members.
Such requests for help makes us yearn for the time when we'll again be able to
welcome these women into the powerful in-person community experience of
a 3-day Rachel's Vineyard Retreat.
Our team is adapting admirably, staying faithful to Ongoing Team Formation, which we were to do in person but have instead conducted by Skype and Zoom, as we
have also long run our retreat preparation meetings. It's beautiful to see each member contribute to this learning!
I'd like to give you a window into two powerful 4-day outreach
missions we were able to carry out in 2020 before Covid put the kibosh on
other such events:
January's 4-day Milan Mission included a well-attended public event
co-sponsored by a large parish and a Catholic women's association. Five
members of our team spoke (3 were from greater Milan), and this
collaboration expressed the true richness of Rachel's Vineyard, which
is not just a powerful post-abortion retreat experience, but the
embrace of a trusted community guided by collaborators
whose blending of gifts and experiences help those we companion to
finally make a breakthrough in resolving their grief. Several
women approached us to confess their need for our services, and our
newest Milan team member is already companioning them.
In Milan we
also met with the new director of the Archdiocesan Family Office, we held a lovely outreach evening for those not yet sure about participating in the retreat, and we offered the "4th day" of our recently completed retreat
with 9 participants. Their encouraging updates included a married
couple's testimony of the first fruits of the retreat in their large
family, and a 34-year old professional woman's report on a
reconciliation between herself and her parents. No one in this family
has practiced the Catholic faith for years, but these parents went
out of their way to meet with the Franciscan friar
whom their adult daughter had spoken with at length on our retreat. For
the entire family last year has been very different from those lived in the ten years after
an abortion facilitated by the mother, which had brought much destruction
into the daughter's life.
February's 4-day Rome Mission included another outreach evening drawing a fascinating cross-section of women, along with our first-ever meeting with the new Director of the Italian Bishops' Office for Family Life, as well as participation in a 3-day Inner Healing Seminar at a well-known Rome parish, where the pastor (who's sent us several participants over the years) allowed us to present Rachel's Vineyard. The
Italian Bishops' new director of Marriage and Family ministry is
friends with one our clergy collaborators has been invited to
participate in an upcoming retreat.
All the while, our frequently updated website quietly does its critical work of offering insight and encouragement to those who often study it over many months, and our individual team members faithfully continue companioning those who've requested such 1-on-1 assistance.
originally to come out in Italy in 2020, but that release has
been postponed to 2021. Since Italians are cooped up in their homes surfing the internet, we've launched an Italian Unplanned film page on our website, with various reflections, resources for hope and healing, and 3 new YouTube videos
in which Abby Johnson herself and 4 actresses in the film explain its
Please pray for our team as we prepare to receive the requests for help
that will inevitably arrive prompted by the film Unplanned.
Check out our Unplanned in Italy page:
Unplanned film Italia
Even if you can't read the Italian,
you can watch any of the 3 YouTube videos we've subtitled.
These inspiring interviews give you a clear picture of the film's healing and evangelizing purposes!
The year 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II's encyclical
Evangelium vitae, famous for its tender, encouraging words
to those who've lost a child through abortion:
These words, by now well
known in American Church and pro-life circles,
largely unknown here in Italy.
So much so that we continue to use every means possible
to make them reach those who most need to hear them.
the Italy Mission new to you?
We invite you to view a
1-page summary of our work (PDF)
how the Mission began
In communion with the Universal Church
we strive to open doors of Mercy and Reconciliation
to all who bear the wounds of abortion.
Retreats in Italy are heavily dependent on the public transit so dramatically affected by Covid.
Travelling light and not knowing what they will encounter,
participants live this experience as true "pilgrims".
We are committed to inviting them on this journey only under safest conditions.
Participants say of Rachel's Vineyard:
"The whole experience, while in some ways extremely difficult,
was unforgettably beautiful and went far above and beyond my expectations."
- An Italian retreat participant
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NOTE: While Facebook
shares are appreciated, all communications to Italy Mission
director Monika Rodman Montanaro should be sent via email to: email@example.com
What Pope Francis has said of "mission" work is certainly truly of the Italy Mission:
"Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly planned program or a well-organized manual.
Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven.
Mission is born of a constant experience of God's merciful anointing..."
- Pope Francis, 23 Sep 2015 Homily at the Canonization of Junipero Serra, father of the California missions
Ten years after launching this Mission, we remain Italy's first
and only Christian
post-abortion healing ministry approved by the Catholic Church. While we operate with the blessing of one of Italy's most important dioceses (that of Bologna), no
Italian diocese, religious community, pro-life or other
organization has yet stepped up to sponsor this Mission. We are still a
seed planted in a field of vast need, yet we are
resolved to help this seed continue to grow, with your prayers and
As we start our 11th year, we offer
11 Lessons Learned in the Italy Mission
1) As our
Dominican priest collaborator Fr. Cristiano often marvels, "the method works!"
It's not just the American-style self-help program many Italians
imagined when we began our activities in 2010, but an internationally
tested instrument for helping deeply wounded souls - women, men and
couples together - open up to the truth of their own life story and the
grace of God's saving power within that story. A
particular strength of this "method" is the intense collaboration of
former particpants (now leaders) from various regions of Italy, who
exercise a critical, complementary role alongside Domenico and me, our
priests and team psychologist.
2) The Holy Spirit is working
powerfully through the internet!
At least 80% of our inquiries come directly from that source. We marvel
at the deep degree to which many women and men open up in email correspondence
and phone appointments. Our team members are always ready to talk
express desire for a contact in his or her area or with a particular
experience. (One of our team members is available particularly for
those who've been through late-term "therapeutic" abortion as she has.)
This is essentially a
new, itinerant model of pastoral care, which makes multiple
offices unnecessary and
yet allows us to quite closely companion individuals all over Italy in
the months before and after retreat participation. Help is
over time even to those who haven't yet committed to a retreat.
with its central location, remains in many ways an ideal hub for us.
The women and men who
travel from near or far to make
a Rachel's Vineyard retreat in Bologna experience the
involved in that journey as a true
"pilgrimage", which is already a strong element of
Italian spirituality. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra (+ 2017) more than once
appreciation of Rachel's
Vineyard, noting in a meeting with
his Clergy Council, shortly before his retirement, our
apostolate's activities as one of the highlights of his years as bishop
We are working to earn similar trust as we cultivate a
relationship with the new bishop of Bologna, who met with us in his first months in office.
4) The Rachel's
Vineyard model of post-abortion care is particularly well-suited to a
country like Italy, where the Church has not yet found a voice to
a reconciling invitation to Her many sons and daughters who've
participated in abortion. After 35 years of
legal abortion (which the Italian populace voted for by referendum),
there are still no diocesan post-abortion pastoral programs such as
in the United States and elsewhere. Furthermore, in the States
almost all clergy have
long had the faculties to deal with the canon law aspects
of abortion during a normal confession. In Italy, until the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016, abortion confessions were
treated and generally reserved to the Bishop's
in the cathedral), to the clergy in Rome, as well as the mendicant
Dominicans, etc). Some of our participants have literally rung the
doorbell at the Bishop's
office, or have had their parish priest tell them to come back in a
week or at the end of the month to receive absolution. Others have been
in confession with the words, "You're very fortunate to have come to
me.... this is an extremely grave sin and not all priests can absolve
such a context, our patient listening over weeks and months, with an
invitation to be fully reconciled through a program that carries the
universal Church's blessing, is truly "GOOD NEWS"!
5) We offer an absolutely unique and highly effective service not found elsewhere in Italy. While some naysayers continue to
assert that "the family" and "the confessional" remain the only
appropriate places to reveal an abortion experience, those
who request our assistance often say they are unable to reveal
their true struggles in
the family (or their effort to do so hasn't
been fruitful), and that even multiple confessions haven't yielded the
deeply felt sense of forgiveness and reconciliation they need. Our
team's support, sometimes including local clergy or psychotherapist
referrals and ideally culminating in the 3-day retreat experience,
fills that gap.
6) One element of our work remains particularly challenging: the difficulty in finding mental health professionals to volunteer with
our team on the 3-day retreats. The mutual alienation and prejudices
(sometimes downright hostility) between "faith" and "psychology" are
much stronger in Italy than what I ever encountered in the U.S. In addition,
Italian socialism has thwarted the development of a vigorous spirit of
unpaid volunteerism like that which is so strong in the States. Please pray for us as we search for additional mental health professionals with whom to collaborate!
7) There is NO substitute for
the precious collaboration of our former participants now become
leaders. The offer personalized "companioning"
to those who contact us for help. Email and phone support are simple but
powerful apostolic tools that empower those in need take one step at a
time toward healing and renewal, as they finally discover they are not
alone in this journey that ideally leads to retreat participation.
8) For many women and men we serve, particularly those who are still single, an important part of the healing process we offer is our willingness to propose Christian chastity as a positive and liveable decision,
as well as the only sure way to prevent further abortions. Please pray
for our entire team in this matter, which can involve courage and
discernment, and which calls us all to live with the same integrity to
which we invite others.
9) In 2019 we saw in the increased number of married couples requesting help the critical importance of reaching out to those who work to
help couples in crisis. Though
they often arrive on the brink of separation, the couples who heal
their abortion experience with us often experience a powerful re-birth
of their relationship. And those in fertile age may go on
to conceive another child. So we are constantly building on the
connections made with Marriage and Family Ministry offices. Other
marriage ministries such as Retrouvaille and Mistero Grande remain natural sources of publicity and collaboration.
10) Two other Italian after-abortion services here in Italy de-activated in 2019. This sad fact confirmed our ongoing sense of how challenging the financial and organization aspects of this work are. Both ecclesial and secular culture largely remain quite impervious to the needs of those we serve, but we are more motivated than discouraged by this fact. We are resolved, with the help of our Stateside supporters, to
crown our first 10 years of ministry by looking ahead to, and planning for, our next 10
11) The adage "Necessity is the mother of invention" is true of this
Covid crisis, as well! Our team is strategizing novel ways to reach
those whom we can't invite on a full 3-plus-1 day residential retreat.
In conversation with other teams worldwide, we're looking at
Zoom possibilities, possibly reviving ad adapted version of the
original weekly support group format (to avoid the challenges of
overnight residential gatherings), and we're considering other formats
combining day-long meetings that would sandwich weekly Zoom gatherings. Our team's precious, hidden work
companioning those who reach out to us continues unabated.
Clergy collaboration: A precious treasure!
An Italian priest in his 50's wrote to us: "I'd
like to take part in your retreat to better be able to help the many
women who confess this sin, this wound, this problem. With the Pope's
authorization many people are deciding to confess it - here at our
church (NB: a Marian pilgrimage site in N. Italy) we are seeing greatly
increased numbers, including penitents who aborted 50 years ago and
those who'd never confessed this before. I realize confession alone
isn't sufficient, though. And I feel I don't know how to really help
them because I see they need something more, something deeper that I
can't offer them."
Our Dominican priest collaborator Fr. Cristiano is from Brasil but has served in Italy for over 25 years.
Despite having been transferred from Bologna, he continues his work with us.
Please read of one of the fruits of Fr. Cristiano's work:
the power of one priest ready to respond
Before moving to Bergamo (Italy's hardest hit city affected by Covid19),
Fr. Cristiano served at Milan's famous church, the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
It's most well known for being the home of Leonardo DaVinci's painting, The Last Supper,
so many people think of this church as a tourist destination,
also a vibrant Christian community in one of Milan's nicest neighborhoods.
Stumbling into a confessional at this very church on a hot summer's day, Elena met Fr. Cristiano
and discovered the Rachel's Vineyard Italy Mission. At age 53, but still mother to a young child,
she was at the end
of her rope trying to deal with a decades-delayed reaction to the
undergone at age 16 plus the realization that
the Spanish fertility
that had more than once used donated eggs to
produce her 5
year-old daughter had also discarded multiple embryos.
cancer diagnosis and 2 years of treatment had lead her to reflect on
all this in a new light.
Elena hadn't practiced the faith since her teen years.
husband of 10 years was nearing the end of his patience with her
emotional outbursts and psychological fragility,
so Elena's only hope
was to return to her psychotherapist (which we certainly didn't
"I entered Father Cristiano's church totally at the end
of my rope.
I was a wreck and I thought they were going to take my
daughter from me.
My husband didn't know how to help me -
was losing his patience for my yelling and other erratic
We were both exhausted and didn't know where to turn."
Fr. Cristiano spoke at length with Elena and told her about Rachel's
She called us immediately and we had several lengthy
phone conversations during the summer.
Another team member, who's also dealt with infertility, companioned her, as well.
One month after participating in the Fall 3-day retreat with her husband,
"The days in Bologna were a marvelous grace
that has given me a new way of looking at my entire life.
If the Lord has taken me by the hand and brought me to to point
being able to meet all of you, it means that maybe I deserve another
and I want with all my heart to seize it.
Alfredo and I feel very close and it seems to me
we're finally looking in a common direction.
It's so beautiful to go to Mass on Sunday with our daughter,
who, we've discovered, goes there with joy!
She also asks us to pray with her before bedtime..."
Two months later the couple
participated in the 4th day of their retreat and continued to reap
the blessings of hope restored.
Despite work that has taken the family
abroad at times, Elena and her husband remain in contact with us and
women from her retreat. The go out of their way to come to our events
in Milan. The family continues their practice of the
Elena's husband has more than once told us: "We will always be grateful to you!"
It's been your prayers
financial support, together with the remarkable commitment by our Italy
(priests and past-participants) that have allowed us to reach those like Elena.
Your gift at the end of our 10th Anniversary Year 2020 will help us continue to both
help individual women and offer marriage-saving help to families like Elena's!
You will help us crown our first 10 years of activity with your Easter 2021 Gift to the Italy Mission in recognition of our team's dedicated apostolic work, which continues even in this time of Coronavirus crisis. The Italy Mission must still fully self-finance its activities,
and our ongoing stateside relationship with the 501(c)3 organization Rachel's Vineyard of Colorado continues to facilitate your active role in helping meet that need.
Again, our Easter 2021 Response Form details how to make a tax-deductible Gift to the Rachel's Vineyard Italy Mission, to be sent by check to California for forwarding to our sponsor, Rachel's Vineyard of Colorado.
Reaching "Rachel" in
Italy: The Cultural Context
The men who feel left out of U.S. abortion debate
28 August 2019, BBC News
Rachel's Vineyard and other after-abortion outreaches are mentioned
in this secular but fairly written article.... BBC's second such article this summer (see below).
Crescendo - 15 min. short film
Eduardo Verastegui and Metanoia Films tell the story of Beethoven (German with English subtitles)
My burden lifted forever
Laura Keynes, December 3, 2015, Catholic Herald (U.K.)
Released in Advent 2015, this post-abortion conversion
story is by a British author with a
doctorate in philosophy from Oxford. Her story also points to the need
of so many women and men to continue a journey of inner healing even
after celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Europe's Down Syndrome "Thought Police"
LifeSiteNews, November 29, 2016
In recent years we've had increasing requests for help from women and couples who
aborted a child with health problems, most often Down Syndrome. It's
truly "open season" on these children, ironically in a time when
"disability rights" are gaining visibility everywhere but in the womb.
This news report shows how far Europe will go to censor any message
that might touch on the post-abortion trauma many of these moms and
dads carry inside.
After Abortion Why Can't I Feel Forgiveness?
Theresa Bonapartis, July 14, 2014, Aleteia
A spiritual challenge common to many women and men...
What Happens When People Share Their Abortion Stories
Cullen Herout, June 9, 2016 The Federalist
Written by a mental health professional who for 5 years has served in Rachel's Vineyard
I wish I could have prevented my girlfriend's abortion
The Telegraph of London, 12 Sep 2014
A story of abortion's effect on men that also points to the importance
of challenging singles and couples with the value of chastity.
Why We Should Welcome Abortion
Narratives (30 April 2014, First Things)
growing toward greater maternal support and respect for the dignity of
all human life needs these narratives,
even the ones that do not end in
By giving women narrative, they are empowered in precisely the
way their pregnancies left them feeling powerless.
And they encourage
those of us in the pro-life movement to view the woman with full
They called my baby biowaste - it broke my heart in pieces (30 June 2019, BBC News)
Clearly inspired by a similar practice in Japan, Victoria (British Columbia, Canada)
opens "The Little Spirits Garden" dedicated to the memory of children lost during pregnancy.
IVF exploitation alleged by British journalist (29 June 2019, BioEdge)
Commentary on an article appearing in the UK Independent,
written by a freelance journalist who reflects on her personal
in the desperate attempt to have a child. More and more of
the couples and single women who arrive in the Italy Mission
through (or are considering resorting to) the treadmill of treatments
proposed by the fertility industry.
Few have any idea of what they will
face in this attempt to become biological parents.
Some of these women have an abortion history, while others face decisions such as "selective reduction" of multiple embryos.
"Every girl I knew was on it": Why Some Women are Questioning Hormonal Birth Control
(17 June 2019, The Cut, New York Magazine)
The author reflects on her own decision to abandon the Pill as she also explores why so many young women
are questioning and often quitting hormonal contraceptives.
is a "dying country"
(13 February 2015, The Guardian)
Italian Women are Choosing to Have No Children
(22 April 2014, Wall
While this article
on economic forces leading to the choice of childlessness, we
the very personal stories of past abortions contributing to a sense of
unworthiness to become a mother. Imagine the pain as women hit age 45
realizing they aborted the only child they will ever carry. And imagine
the family wound as others approach 35 or 40 still living with the
mother who years ago encouraged them to abort and now continually asks
when they will produce a grandchild. One of our women reponded
such a mother, who'd twice convinced her (at age 24 and 26) she was
"too young" to have a child: "I gave you two grandchildren but you sent
California Native Takes Rachel's Vineyard to the Old World
(Elizabeth Lev, Oct. 22, 2010, Zenit - original title "Healing Abortion Survivors")
Italy Mission Archives
Dominican friends at the pro-life March in Rome were happy to carry a message of hope and healing:
"Abortion harms. Jesus heals."
(In Italian, the message rhymes!)
Spring 2019 Family Life Event with children's "Plant a Flower" activity.
While Monika happily worked to dirty kids' hands while teaching the marvels of Springtime,
our collaborators spoke with the many adults who viewed our info table and took home information.
In Milan during Summer 2019 we met for the first time in over 5 years with the married
couple that directs the Archdiocesan Family Life Office. By renewing and cultivating
these ties we expect our dialogue to lead to
increased clergy awareness of our apostolate's readiness to collaborate with them,
as well as to increased awareness of the importance of touching on
pregnancy loss during marriage preparation.
With our most veteran collaborator in Milan preparing to complete her
psychotherapy licensure, and with the renewed commitment of our
Domenican priest collaborator in that region, we are strategizing how
to make vital inroads in this city which is Italy's economic hub
and can most aptly be compared to New York City.
Spring 2019 Rome Marriage and Family Event
When blustery weather destroyed the exhibit gazebos,
instead of calling it quits we took our outreach directly to the Main Conference Room,,
utilizing every break time for face-to-face approach with individuals and couples.
3 of our Rome retreat alumnae were the force behind this day-long event!
June 2017, Rome
As many of your know, in 2018 we suffered the loss of one of the
Italy Mission's greatest fans,
my father, Ray:
Ray was in many ways
not only a supporter of the Italy Mission, but a source of the vision
that inspired it:
Ray Wilbur Rodman
15 April 1932 - 18 May 2018
May the Lord support us all the day long,
till the shades lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then in His Mercy may He give us a safe lodging,
and a holy rest and peace at the last.
- Cardinal John Henry Newman
Dad passed on to me (Monika) the precious treasure of
our Catholic Christian faith, living a quiet trust in the Lord Who
penetrates suffering with grace and brings life
out of death. Daily shared prayer, a simple lifting of the heart to our
Source and Summit with few words but deep intention, was one of the
exquisite gifts we shared from the time I was small to his final waking
Dad taught me perseverance in tackling
challenges of every sort, a love for life, especially for preborn
children and their mothers, fidelity to family ties despite the cost, and an unfailing willingness to practice
Ray loved and served his country through his Navy service and
aeronautical engineering career. He knew, as the son of illiterate
immigrants from a country that later went communist (Yugoslavia),
that the United States has unique gifts to offer the
world. He was so happy when he heard of my work a few years ago to help
bring Rachel's Vineyard to Slovenia, the part of Yugoslavia very near
to the area from which my grandparents had emigrated.
Dad had hoped I might go into another field of work, but took pride
in my service to the Church. And He accepted with few complaints
Mission which marriage brought me, despite the personal sacrifice which
that Mission required of him, as it took his only child from California
to Southern Italy for the last decade of his life. He understood
our Mission of post-abortion hope and healing to be a seed
God sowed first in the U.S. Church so that it might be planted
throughout the Church universal, and dad was proud we could bring this
work to the
heart of the Church and to "Old World" Europe which is in dire need of
a New Evangelization.
Mission leaders Monika and Domenico with priest Fr. Rito (blue shirt)
and former participants,
a married couple, after our workshop given at the "Mistero Grande"
Marriage Preparation and Enrichment National Conference
A couple attending the workshop that day, thanks to their priest's
participated in our July retreat after a late-term
and our November retreat included another married couple who learned of us through the same conference.
Monika and Domenico with past-participant ambassadors at Bologna's Franciscan Festival
(individuals, 2 married couples and a father-daughter team)
Monika and Domenico before the July retreat at the Poor Clares convent in downtown Bologna
The sisters are cloistered but by no means cut off from the world!
They helped sponsor our outreach at the Franciscan Festival.
Mons. John Cihak from the Archdiocese of
a priest with extensive experience in post-abortion pastoral care who served in Rome for 8 years,
annually invited Monika to join him
in speaking to Italian and international clergy
doing ongoing formation at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.
We look forward to continuing our relationship with this university.
Our annual Mission trips to Rome for a day
of outreach at Italy's March for Life have undoubtedly been a success! Most recently, religious sisters (two of whom have also participated in our
retreat) joined past participants in distributing materials
before, during and after the walk. One of our former participants (in above photo), whom
we'd not seen for 6 months, remarked that in the year since the retreat her
personal physician, whom she used to visit frequently with various
problems, had run into her and joked she must have changed doctors
because he'd not seen her for so long! Such can be the amazing effects
of releasing and resolving old hurts such as abortion wounds, and we
rejoice to hear such stories! Having finally made peace with God, herself, and her never-born child, this former participant now radiates joy and
tranquillity and is continuing with diligence the spiritual path
on which she's embarked.
Ever wonder why??
You may notice we post very few photos
of our team members and participants.
We'd love to publish more, but we are extremely respectful of people's privacy and
only publish photos if all subjects have agreed for
their image to appear on the internet.
Even some of our most
dedicated team members understandably prefer to retain their anonymity.
While some past participants feel called to later speak publicly of their abortion experience and healing,
we never push such a move, but encourage prudent discernment of any such decision.
March 2017 Rome seminar "The Experience of Abortion"
Italy Mission founder and director Monika Rodman Montanaro with 2 collaborators.
Several former participants of our program attended this public event and spoke of their experience.
2016: Jubilee Year of Mercy
You may recall that the Jubilee Year of Mercy included
Pope Francis' conferring to all clergy
of the world the priestly faculties to deal with any abortion
excommunication and absolve this sin "in one sitting".
(Formerly it was Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite and
other mendicant order clergy who had that authority, together with Jesuits and the
bishops' penitenzieri, i.e. priests hearing confessions at cathedrals.)
On November 21, 2016 Francis extended his new policy permanently. In the United States this changed practically
nothing in pastoral practice, but Francis' move was truly big news for post-abortion pastoral care in countries like Italy,
where longstanding restrictive policies had created a tremendous silence and led many to perceive a
miserliness in the invitation to seek God's Mercy after abortion. At least some clergy sometimes
found themselves preoccupied about how to proceed with a penitent
confessing abortion. That preoccupation has had a
chilling effect on the Italian Church's ability to respond pastorally
to this tragedy which has touched so many individuals, couples and
families. We're delighted to help Italy move into a new era in this regard.
In the Jubilee Year Monika has began mentoring a new retreat site, the first in Slovenia
the former Yugoslavia, next to Croatia and Austria, near Italy's
northwest border). Our relationship with Slovenia begain 4 years ago
when we welcomed on our retreat a participant from there. She then
returned and over time found a Jesuit priest with whom to collaborate,
with whom Monika has spent many hours consulting by Skype.
(given May 2015, Rome March for Life)
Vineyard Italy Mission founders Monika
Rodman Montanaro (California, USA) and Domenico Montanaro
The Origins of the Rachel's Vineyard Italy Mission
In 2007 Monika Rodman,
former coordinator of Respect Life Ministry and Post-abortion Healing
Ministry in the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, CA, married her Italian
Montanaro and moved to Italy. It was Domenico's
encouragement that led the couple in 2010 to pioneer Italy's first
Christian ministry for
healing after abortion,
a ministry active since the 1980's in the United States (both in
Catholic and other Christian communities) but truly a novelty in Italy.
Together with our
collaborators, we labor in this Mission in the spirit of
the New Evangelization
called for by St. John Paul II, Pope
Emeritus Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. However you discovered the Italy Mission, we welcome you!
compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical
and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular
devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the
Pope Francis, 25 April 2014, ad
limina visit from Southern Africa's bishops
Maybe you recently
visited Italy and took home our Prayer Cards
from the U.S. Bishops Visitors Office in Rome.
Perhaps you have a heart for proclaiming
in a non-traditional missionary context
Good News of
God's saving Mercy. Post-Christian Europe is certainly one such mission
land and the experience of abortion is a wound that often leads to what
our women and men often call a "spiritual divorce" from God and from
the Christian community.
You may be of Italian heritage
and are pained to
learn that marriage, traditional family life
and practice of the Christian faith are quickly dying
out in this, Europe's most rapidly aging nation, where single child
families have become the norm.
Perhaps you have a strong commitment to human
life, and a deep
desire to offer healing balm to those carrying the pain of motherhood
lost and fatherhood aborted. It may be through the
Columbus, the Italian Catholic
or another Italian-American association
that you learned of our
Mission. We would be so very grateful to welcome you as partners!
And some of you have personally benefitted from Rachel's Vineyard,
having found there your
own deep healing after the
experience of abortion. In learning
how unique the Church's post-abortion healing ministries
are to the United
States, you now desire to extend the same healing opportunity to women
and men in a
post-abortion Mission country.
Looking for a Rachel's
Vineyard Retreat in the U.S.??
Partnership in the Italy Mission
Whatever has led to you to this Italy Mission, know that we are
grateful for your interest in our apostolate. We hope you will
become a fellow gardener in this Vineyard, whether through
or telling others about our work.
Rachel's Vineyard site, including ours, must be financially
Your donations make our work possible as they help defray
infrastructure costs we are not yet able to cover through program fees
and Italian donations. While the outgoing Cardinal of Bologna (where we offer
the retreats) has personally reaffirmed his blessing of our ministry,
that blessing has not yet included any form of financial support. Those
Italians who do financially support this ministry are most all former
participants joined by a few clergy.
Since 2009 Rachel's Vineyard of Colorado, while not directing any of
own funds to the Italy Mission, has graciously assisted us
by facilitating our friends' restricted giving
for this Italy Mission. It
has been the sacrificial gifts of individuals, families and Knights
of Columbus Councils that have helped make possibile our first
years of activity.
We receive NO
from Rachel's Vineyard of Colorado, nor from Rachel's Vineyard
international headquarters in Philadelphia.
We would be honored to
have you join our family of supporters! To make a tax-deductible
donation in the United States, through
the registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization "Rachel's Vineyard of
Colorado", click here.
In 2020 our American
family of financial
supporters included a total of 24 households and two Knights of
Columbus Councils in California.
Our goal for 2021 is to grow our number
of American supporters to 35
families. We would
welcome your personal participation to help us
reach this goal. Our
family of supporters, while predominantly Catholic, includes Christian believers of various
denominations, and we are grateful for those mission partners who, like
us, believe Christ is honored when His Body, the Church, reaches out
ecumenically with the Good News.
In 2021 we also hope to add 2 new
(including at least one new Knights of
Columbus Council) to our family of supporters.
hoped-for partnership with one or more Italian-American
organizations has thus far remained elusive. If you are involved in
the Italian American community, might you be able to help us form one such
partnership in 2021?
To make a donation to the
Vineyard Italy Mission, simply click on the Response Form and
mail your financial gift to my stateside collaborator who records and forwards all gifts to our
sponsor agency in Colorado.
Questions? Please email Italy Mission coordinator Monika Rodman Montanaro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your prayers for and partnership in the Italy
© 2009-2021 Monika Rodman, Vigna di Rachele/Rachel's Vineyard
Ministries™. Tutti i diritti riservati.