A Little Rock Catholic is helping the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spread the word about Project Rachel, a post-abortion healing ministry.
Helen Evans, a longtime volunteer and former coordinator for Project Rachel for the Diocese of Little Rock, was one of four women chosen to share her story in a national video. She said she found hope and healing thanks to the ministry about 20 years after her abortion in 1979.
“God was so gracious, look at what he’s done: He’s healed me. I’m set free. And we go share our story,” the 70-year-old parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do, love and serve the Lord. This is one way to do it and praise be to God.”
Thirteen USCCB videos, with Evans featured in several, are available free to dioceses who have Project Rachel ministries. For a cost, videos are also customizable, allowing ministries to put their direct confidential contacts for their ministries in the video.
The diocesan Respect Life Office, which oversees the Project Rachel ministry, will have five videos customized in English and Spanish for $800, thanks to donations, said respect life director Catherine Phillips.
The videos, which include interviews with women who have had an abortion and with priests, can be used in multiple ways, including on the diocesan website, dolr.org, and in clips on social media.
“This was a collaborative process that was many years in the making,” Phillips said.
Evans traveled to Washington D.C., in October to record the footage at St. Teresa of Avila Church.
“I want people to know Jesus is the healer … that God loves us,” Evans said, adding she was “imprisoned in this shame” for about 20 years.
On the day of her abortion she remembers saying, “I killed my baby.”
“How long can you live with that kind of secret?” and while she promoted the idea of “my body, my choice” at the time, “that was just me trying to ease my conscience.”
Her courage to again share her story, this time nationally, goes back to seeing a woman named Mary speak about her abortion at a healing conference in Arkansas around 1998.
“I saw Mary and thought, ‘I want to be in that place of peace. I want to be free. I want to pick up my mat and walk. I don’t want to be paralyzed,’” Evans said.
She saw a Project Rachel ministry brochure about a week later and went through a retreat. It changed her life.
Though the videos do not specify that Evans is from Arkansas, it speaks to the quality of the Project Rachel ministry in the state.
“I’m so proud of Helen, so proud of our ministry and so proud of our diocese and the foundation Anne (Dierks, who founded the diocese’s Project Rachel) laid that has continued all these years. … We are blessed,” Phillips said.
The ministry has expanded and continues to have a multifaceted approach, with days of healing, retreats, Bible studies, support groups (see sidebar), but most importantly accompaniment for any woman or man (speaking English or Spanish) who has been wounded by abortion. Calls and texts are answered on a direct confidential line, (501) 663-0996.
“Having a person to be there for you, to listen to you, to walk with you, to direct you to resources, prayers, Scripture, priests,” Phillips said.
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