Lumina, Hope & Healing After Abortion Ministry Update

Posted by | December 17, 2014 | News | No Comments

The following is from my talk at this year’s Annual Advent Dinner on December 4th, highlighting all of the good work Lumina has accomplished this year!

dinner 2014

Honoree Linda Cochran, Christopher Bell, Bishop Peter Byrne, Brianna who offered her witness, and Theresa Bonopartis, Director of Lumina

First of all, I want to thank Bishop Byrne for being here with us tonight. Myself along with a few other people here tonight, spent many a Saturday morning with then Fr. Bryne, praying in front of the Dobbs Ferry Abortion Clinic years ago. I can still see him showing up with his high school students who would sacrifice their Saturdays to come and pray with him. Thank you Bishop for your faithfulness and example.

I would like to begin tonight with a quote from Saint John Paul, II.

 “Mercy is love that suffers the evil of another to affirm his dignity so that he does not have to suffer alone.”

The depths of the isolation and despair of the sin of abortion has taken hold of many in our society. Millions have been impacted. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends, and in reality, each one of us.

Many who directly participated in abortion feel as though there is no hope for them. But there is hope!  Abortion is not who they are as a child of God, but instead, something they have done. In this beautiful season of Advent, we await that living hope in the birth of mercy Himself, Jesus Christ.

Theresa, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, and Linda Cochran

Theresa, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, and Linda Cochran

Lumina is not a big ministry. In fact, I am the only full-time employee with a part-time social media person under the arm of Good Counsel Homes along with the many wonderful priests and volunteers without whose help we could not do this work.  But, I am continually amazed, that through such a small ministry, GOD, the only true healer, continues to do great things! It is really quite a miracle of the loaves.

Each month we receive calls from at least 15–40 new people, not including the people we are already helping.  In fact, just this past month, 3 women who had been separated from the church for decades called and have received the sacrament of reconciliation.

We are called, as followers of Christ, to reflect His mercy to those who are suffering and feel separated from His love. We are called to be the light which leads the way to Christ and affirms the dignity of each person He sends to us, which leads not to the birth of their child on earth, but to a rebirth, to a new life in Christ who has forgiven them, loves them and died for their sin.

Recently, I heard from a woman who I had worked with who had a late term abortion as a young college girl. She had the abortion and complications began, only to find out it was twins, and having to go through the procedure twice. She had believed like so many do that it was not a child and abortion was no big deal.  She, also like so many, found out this was not true. Like me, she saw her child.

I know full well the trauma she felt and was living with. A picture forever etched in her mind and no hope of healing. When she got to me, she was broken and deeply depressed.  It had been decades since her abortions and she had been carrying the guilt and shame for all that time. She participated in a group I was leading and grew in her faith and in her understanding of what had happened. Slowly she was brought to the mercy of God, was able to forgive herself through knowledge of His mercy and found joy in her life again. Last week I received this email from her.

Hi Theresa

How are you? I’ve been thinking of you.
Just wanted to let you know that you are ALWAYS in my prayers.
If i haven’t told you enough, you saved my soul and the souls of many
others I am sure.
This is the reason for Lumina. We are so blessed to see God working in the lives of those we serve. To see souls once shattered and alone, united to the life of Christ through His merciful love.

It is actually miraculous when I think about the hundreds of thousands of people touched each year through such a teeny tiny ministry. Our web site gets tens of thousands of hits each month and our blog has a steady following. We may not be the #1 post abortion ministry, but He is #1 for sure, for it is God alone who does the good which comes from us.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have more resources in order to do more things, but I have also learned that all good comes in His time, not mine, and to do what He asks each day, trusting in Him and His will for the rest. It is not always easy.

I pray each day never to use or exploit those who come to Lumina, but to truly and purely seek their individual healing to the core – keeping my desires and wants and those of others, out of His way.

This past year, once again, we have ministered to close to 200 new people.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

Although Fr. Mariusz Koch and I, along with some great men from the ministry, have been doing retreat days for post abortive men for over ten years, this past year we were blessed to hold our first men’s weekend at Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark.

As one man shared:

This week, in prayer, I really felt like I deserved and was worthy of forgiveness (I had not felt that before), but there is a paradox to it because the more I realize that God values my life, the more I see that the child’s life was equally important. We all matter a lot.  It’s by trusting forgiveness and, when necessary, laying that pain of the loss at the foot of the Cross that I can acknowledge what happened and heal. Thank you so much and may God bless you and all your good work!

Thanks and Best, -A

The Prayerful Remembrance Service which is a 3 hour service consisting of short testimonies and intercessory prayer, continues to grow as it spreads across the country and beyond, touching the hearts of countless people. So far, just this past fall there have been 4 services, one in Spanish, with more coming up this winter. It continues to bring people in for healing, and is a wonderful way to pray and intercede as we show people the magnitude of abortion’s impact.

I was blessed to do a workshop on Abortions Impact on Relationships for the USCCB at their Pro Life Directors Conference in South Carolina this past August, and wrote one of the pamphlets in their Respect Life Month packet on the same topic. Our articles on different aspects of healing have been published in many publications.

In the next year we are teaming up with the Diocese of Bridgeport to offer a conference on post abortion healing in the hope of bringing more understanding to clergy, therapists, and lay people in order to reach out to those still far away.

But the thing I am most excited about is our first post abortive sibling weekend retreat. After 5 years of day retreats, I, along with Fr. Fidelis, CFR, will be conducting our first sibling weekend this coming March in Maryland. At the present time, we are the only ones offering retreats specifically for siblings. The response is great as more and more siblings who are hurting from abortion hear the message of healing and that they are not alone.

For one moment, just think of this – millions of people are missing a sibling or multiple siblings because of abortion. Some before their birth, others after. I am convinced it is a scourge on our nation, deeply wounding surviving children. These people live with so many conflicting feelings, confusion, guilt for being alive while their siblings are dead, and wondering if in fact they were wanted or if they would even be here if their sibling had lived.

I want to share one sibling’s reflection about one of our day retreats.

It is difficult to put into words the great peace and comfort that I received when I participated in the Day of Prayer and Healing for Siblings.  Meeting six other retreatants who knew personally the pain and grief of losing a sibling to abortion made me feel less alone in my loss.  As a child, I can remember feeling like someone was missing from my family.  During my teen years, I pushed those thoughts away because it seemed not true or possible.  Six years ago, when I learned my mom had an abortion four years before I was born, suddenly everything that didn’t make sense to me came into focus.  I also instantly missed my sibling and instantly cried tears of grief.  My mom felt the child she lost was a boy and she named him John Andrew.  I had wanted and prayed for a sibling my whole life and now I realized that God had answered my every prayer.

The Day of Prayer and Healing in March provided me with a whole day to just be with my brother in the Communion of Saints and to talk about him with others who understood my pain and cared.  The group was a nice mixture of men and women and something that helped me so much was the vulnerable tears the men shared over their pain and loss.  Being with the group I felt safe and secure.  Never before was I so struck thinking to myself, that this day retreat is a tangible sign that abortion is not a private matter between a woman and her doctor.

I would recommend this retreat to anyone who lost a sibling to abortion.  Having known of my mom’s abortion for six years, I had by God’s grace forgiven my mom.  .  Words could never express my gratitude to Lumina for hosting this Day of Prayer and Healing for Siblings.  The wisdom and courage of this post-abortion healing ministry, gave me a glimpse of God’s love.  ~JAMS

One little ministry, mighty works of God.

It is actually extraordinary when I think of it.  It is for sure a daily standing at the foot of the cross, but it is also a witnessing of the resurrection and joyful hope; seeing that person once so broken now knows personally the infinite love and mercy of God that no man can take away from them.

And so I will end where I began…

“Mercy is love that suffers the evil of another to affirm his dignity so that he does not have to suffer alone.”

Christ did that for us, may we always, by His grace, do the same for others.

 

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