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CURRENT ISSUE:  June 6, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
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ministry to Italian Catholics

Rachel’s Vineyard is taking root in Italy, nurturing women and men who seek healing through the post-abortion ministry.

Monika Rodman Montanaro, with her husband Domencio Montanaro, continues her post-abortion healing ministry in Italy.
Rachel’s Vineyard, Italy

Information: Email Mimmont@hotmail.com

Contributions: (Rachel’s Vineyard of Colorado Tax ID number: 90-0115001)

Check payable to: Rachel’s Vineyard of Colorado
Memo line: Italy Mission

Mail to: Tara Somerday 37151 Ila Court, Fremont, CA 94536
The gardener for La Vigna di Rachele is Monika Rodman Montanaro, who, for 12 years before her marriage to an Italian national, headed the Respect Life office at the Diocese of Oakland. She recalled the words of then-Bishop Allen Vigneron upon her departure: “Go and do good things in Italy. They need you there.”

Her mission is to bring post-abortion ministry to a Catholic country that voted to legalize abortion by a two-thirds majority in 1981, affirming a 1978 law.

Rodman Montanaro’s own journey to Italy began during what she described as a “mini-sabbatical” there in 2006. During Easter Week, she traveled to Southern Italy and in a tiny restaurant met the man who would become her husband, Domenico Montanaro. “I could see this was a man of character,” she said.

They married in August 2007 at St. Albert Priory. As part of the journey, Montanaro made a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. He had been in college when abortion was legalized. “I know we need this in Italy,” he told her. “If you come here,” he told her, “we’ll live simply and you can dedicate yourself to this.”
And this is what they have done. He is employed by the government and she runs Rachel’s Vineyard from their home. There were websites and manuals to translate, and church leaders to invite to be part of the mission.

In July 2010, Rachel’s Vineyard of Italy had its first retreat; now there have been three. She credits Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, “a very respected church leader who has a heart for pro-life,” for assisting the post-abortion ministry.

“He knows this is a gift the American church can offer to the rest of the world,” she said.
The words of Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life), inform her work:

“I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”

Rodman Montanaro has read those 10 sentences countless times. To women over the phone, at weekends, at events, and sometimes to church leaders who require additional convincing to support her work in Italy.

Her experience with Rachel’s Vineyard began in Oakland. “We started in 1996 to offer a Rachel’s Vineyard support group weekly, coordinated by a Catholic M.F.T. [marriage and family therapist],” Rodman Montanaro said.

That therapist now works with Rachel’s Vineyard of Colorado, which accepts donations on behalf of the Italy mission. She also thanks Knights of Columbus Council 6043 for its annual fundraiser for the Italy mission.

If the ministry can help people “come back to the joyful practice of faith, they will be apostles for life,” Rodman Montanaro said.

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