Scripture Moments  A reflection on some healing scripture texts and a list of texts used on the Rachel Vineyard Retreat  Download a copy here

Healing Abortion's Trauma and Rachel's Vineyard Retreat. An article by 'Genevieve', Tom Ryan and Peter Maher. Reprinted from the Australasian Catholic Record  (April, 2009). This article explores in some detail the experience and effects of the processes of the Rachel's Vineyard Retreat and ministry. Download a copy


Shame, Hope and the Church, A Journey with Mary, Thomas Ryan SM, (2020) St Pauls Publications. Reviewed by Peter Maher.

Shame has invaded the church space more than ever in recent times. We used to see religious practice as an antidote to shame. Somehow the forgiveness and comfort of Jesus’ love could heal the shame associated with sin or social marginalisation. But now the shame is at the heart of religion itself. Where we used to go to religion to free us from shame and guilt, we now are more likely to recognise religion and church as the source of shame. We no longer can trust our religious tradition to liberate us and are in fear of that very institution enslaving us.

Thomas Ryan contributes significantly to this dilemma as he draws from his theology, biblical insights, anthropology and psychology to offer a window on shame. This terrain is not new, but what Ryan brings that is new is his Marian theology from his Marist spirituality.

It is this insight that readers will find interesting and, more importantly, helpful in coming to terms with the challenges we face in the church at the moment. Ryan explores the experiences in Mary’s life where she endured shame. Ryan notes Mary’s empathy with women who are perceived to be morally deviant, or shamed by unwanted pregnancies, her solidarity with mothers of children who are innocent victims of war or from the tyranny of the state (p143). Mary had to learn from her misunderstandings about Jesus’ mission and from her experiences of confusion and shame how to be present to the reality and stay with her calling.

Ryan explores a nice image of Mary in the Upper Room. Mary is the one who does not give up but continues to hope and trust. Mary stands as one who listens to the victims of abuse. She does not abandon the shamed Jesus but stands at the foot of the cross, still mother of a disgraced lawbreaker.

This book offers insights into how Mary’s approach to shame and guilt might offer us a way of healing and hope. Ryan suggests that Mary stands as a model of how to hold shame in a way that can be healing. In connecting with this Marian tradition, might we find a way to reconnect with the healing needed in troubled times.

The Woman at the Tomb, Abortion and Redemption (David Lovell Publishing, 2017)

Jessica Lockhart writes her story of the circumstances surrounding her abortion and the healing from grief and loss after an abortion as a personal pathway to redemption in her 2017 book. This is her story of a way back from pain and shame and despair through grace and caring support.

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