Project Rachel helps post-abortive women heal

Project Rachel helps women, men on their journey to the Lord’s Mercy. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph hosted a gathering at St. Charles Borromeo Church Sept. 16 — an event explaining Project Rachel and how it can help post-abortive men and women.

For countless women and men, the loss of a child, including by abortion, is grief-filled. The loss can leave a deep hole in one’s heart. Project Rachel and Project Joseph, the Church’s ministries to women and men suffering in the aftermath of an abortion, no matter if recent or decades ago, is a network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors, and laypersons who provide a caring team response. Beginning with referrals for Sacramental Reconciliation, Project Rachel and Project Joseph provide an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling, support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professionals.

Project Rachel and Project Joseph are based on the Divine Mercy of Jesus, said Teresa Hoeppner, Program Manager for the Respect Life Office. Several speakers shared their experience and healing through Project Rachel with those gathered for the event.

One speaker spoke about joining Project Rachel, receiving counseling, fellowship and love. Her internal struggle for forgiveness had continued for years, despite seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation more than once. She couldn’t forgive herself, so how could she be forgiven?

She said through the Gabriel Project in Kansas City, Kan., a parish based ministry that serves any pregnant woman who is feeling alone, afraid and in need of support for herself and her unborn baby and through Project Rachel, she learned how to obtain God’s bountiful mercy. “God loves us so much more than he hates our sin,” she said.

A video, “Silent No More,” showed a man about to embark on the 2006 March for Life in Washington, D.C., regretting his lost fatherhood.
Another speaker gave some statistics. More than 59 million babies have been lost to abortion since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v Wade, legalizing abortion in all 50 states. One in three women are post-abortive. “Anything contrary to God’s law harms the Body of Christ. We’re all in this together.”

Many deep-seated problems affect post-abortive women and men, she said. “Post abortive syndrome is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, causing insecurity, feelings of worthlessness, emotional injuries, self-hate, and more. A contraceptive mentality has been embraced by society which has abortion as a consequence, perpetuating an irresponsible self-indulgent, ripple effect.”

Deacon Chuck Koesterer of St. James Parish in Liberty said, “The Divine Mercy is at the heart of the Project Rachel Ministry.” He added that in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life), St. John Paul II condemned abortion as “an unspeakable crime,” but acknowledged that “the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother.” Deacon Koesterer said the Church understands that many factors influence the decision to have an abortion, but that doesn’t make it right.

Hoeppner said, “The Catholic Church is the force against abortion. Truly a priest can stand as Christ to post-abortive men and women.” She spoke about sidewalk counseling and the blessing that occurs when a mind is changed from abortion to keeping and raising a child.

Project Rachel is a healing ministry. Bill Francis, director of the Respect Life Office, said there are four pillars to the ministry: pastoral care, education, prayer and worship, and public policy advocacy.

Deacon Koesterer said, “healed women and men can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.”

Hoeppner and Francis agreed that “Project Rachel is built upon our faith in Jesus as The Divine Mercy.  Our hope, our forgiveness is in Him.  We want to share that message.  Everything we do revolves around our faith!”

For more information about Project Rachel, visit, click on diocesan offices and Respect Life.



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November 25, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph