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Catholic Voice
January 19, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Well-known and beloved priest takes reins at Our Lady of the Rosary
Campaign raises $15M;
second phase to begin
In search of healing after an abortion

"Attending these two programs was wonderful. I understood that God had forgiven me from the start and I managed to forgive myself," Rosemary Medeiros said.

Rosemary Medeiros came from a very Catholic family that had immigrated to America from Yucatan, Mexico. Her father was very strict and her mother took great care of their four children, of whom Medeiros is the eldest.

"I was afraid of God because I thought he was going to punish me if I didn't do the right thing," she said.

That fear came over her when she learned she was pregnant at 18 years old, especially when she had promised herself she would not have sex before marriage."I broke my promise and was in a panic to tell my parents," she recalled. "I was also very embarrassed." Fear drove her to make the decision to abort her child. She went to an abortion clinic in Oakland and although she dreaded it, because she knew she should not do it, she finally did. "I felt the whole procedure, there was no anesthesia and I saw the pieces of my baby pulled out with an extractor," Medeiros said. "I was very bad physically, spiritually and emotionally for the next 33 years."

Although she had gone to confession on various occasions, "I did not feel forgiven and thought God would punish me," she said. In 2011, while praying in a chapel in Mexico, she heard a voice saying "prostrate yourself." She ignored it, but the voice spoke again, forcefully. "I fell down before Jesus and felt electricity in my body and cried," she recalled. "Then I heard the same voice saying these beautiful words: 'I have forgiven you, forgive yourself now.'"On leaving the chapel, Medeiros said she saw a cloud shaped like a fetus, and knew it was time to confront her abortion.

Related story
Mothers in crisis aided by
volunteers at Birthright

Pro-life events Jan. 23-24

Rachel's Vineyard Retreats

Feb. 20-22, in English,
at Santa Rosa

Information, registration: Christine Watkins,
415-260-4406; christine4faith@gmail.com

April 17-19, in Spanish,
at Santa Rosa

Information, registration:
Gloria Maldonado,


Post-Abortion Healing

8-Week Post-Abortion Healing Scripture Study Group (English)
Starts Feb. 5, Our Lady of Angels Church, Burlingame
Contact: Christine Watkins 415-260-4406; christine4faith@gmail.com

8-Week Post-Abortion Healing Group (Spanish)
Starts Feb. 11, St. Joseph the Worker Church, Berkeley
Contact: Christine Watkins
415-260-4406; Christine4faith@gmail.com

Rosemary's Story
Watch a video of Rosemary Medeiros and her husband talking about healing after abortion.
More resources:

More on pro-life ministries www.oakdiocese.org/ministries/
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, in the United States 52 percent of women who have had an abortion are under 25 years of age. Women 20-25 years old make up 32 percent; adolescents 20 percent; and girls under 15 account for 1.2 percent.

After arriving in the United States, Medeiros asked God to guide her and heard about a retreat offering support for post-abortion women offered by Rachel's Vineyard, a ministry that provides spiritual healing for those who have lived the experience.

Later, she attended PACE (Post-Abortion Counseling & Education), a group involved in post- abortion healing and Scripture study, which participants attend once a week for eight weeks.

"Attending these two programs was wonderful. I understood that God had forgiven me from the beginning and managed to forgive myself," she said.

Medeiros met Gloria Maldonado, who promotes these two programs under the organization First Resort, a nonprofit organization that provides information, resources and support to women who are in an unplanned pregnancy or need help after an abortion.

"The woman who experiences an abortion is a wounded soul who needs mercy and healing of Christ," Medeiros said, referring not only to spiritual but psychological problems that often come after abortion, such as depression, anxiety, problems in relationships, courage, sexual dysfunction, loneliness, divorce, drugs and alcoholism. "Many people, when they have the experience of an abortion, want nothing from anyone, want to block it and are subject to it becoming a big trauma," Maldonado said.

Maldonado and Medeiros work together with the Diocese of Oakland by contacting all parishes and use various methods of communication to promote these programs.Through Rachel's Vineyard, retreats offer healing. Counselors and licensed social workers trained in this lay ministry are available through this ministry.The PACE program is longer, with weekly meetings over a course of eight to 10 weeks.

These programs are attended not only by women, but also men and couples. They have even included grandparents who seek healing because their children have had abortions.

Mothers in crisis aided by volunteers at Birthright

Linda Easterday became a volunteer at Birthright of Concord by reading a tiny notice in The Catholic Voice seeking volunteers to help in the office back in 2001.

Perhaps you will, too.

That's the hope of Birthright of Concord, which, like many pro-life organizations in the diocese, depends on volunteer help to assist women in crisis pregnancies. The group seeks an executive director, board members and volunteers in various aspects of its ministry, which celebrated 40 years last year.

Birthright of Concord
3106 Clayton Road, Concord
Hours: Monday-Tuesday
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Wednesday 1-4:30 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Birthright of Concord will hold training for potential volunteers next month, from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 6 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb.7 at its office at 3106 Clayton Road, Concord. To sign up for the training, contact Birthright at 925-798-7327. There's an application to be filled out in advance.

The group is also taking signups for its annual luncheon on March 25 at Zio Fraedo's restaurant in Pleasant Hill. Luncheon tickets are $35; raffles will also be part of the afternoon. The raffles, Easterday said, "help keep us in the black."

One main way Birthright keeps its costs low is that it is an all-volunteer organization. Right now, four or five volunteers are needed to work in the office, which is open two full days and three partial days a week, from Monday to Friday.

It would be good, Easterday said, to extend those hours to 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

In addition to office staff, Birthright of Concord seeks an executive director and volunteers with fundraising experience. The organization has an annual fundraiser, a spaghetti feed hosted by St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord, in September.

A "phantom tea" is also held once a year. The donors receive a tea bag in the mail — with an invitation to brew a cup, sit back at home and enjoy it. The opportunity to support the group without leaving your home often brings in about $1,000. "Every little bit helps," Easterday said.

Easterday's background is in insurance; an early retirement resulted in her looking for volunteer opportunities. She and her husband had led pre-Cana classes in the diocese in the past. Then she saw an ad in The Catholic Voice.

"I have always been pro-life," she said, "but not in pro-life ministry."

Birthright of Concord last year served 351 women, up from 275 the year before. The women who come to Birthright are a diverse group, with most of them in their 20s and 30s, Easterday said. Spanish-speaking volunteers are available on Tuesday mornings, she said.

The care transcends language, Easterday said. "We can still understand each other and not speak the same language," she said.

"Our main focus is on the woman," she said of the clients who seek their support. "We want to help her so much."

One way they do that is by providing maternity clothes. Birthright of Concord is always happy to receive donations of maternity clothes.

Care for the mother continues well after the birth of her child. The mothers may receive diapers every three months, as well as clothing for their children until they are 2.

Pro-life events Jan. 23-24

Standing Up 4 Life Walk: Jan. 23: noon to 2 p.m., Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza; Conversations 4 Life Benefit Dinner, 5:30-9 p.m., St. Margaret Mary Church, 1219 Excelsior Ave., Oakland, www.Issues4life.org.

West Coast Walk for Life: Jan. 24, 9:30 a.m., Mass, St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough St., San Francisco; 12:30 p.m. rally and 1:30 p.m. Walk for Life, Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco. Information: www.walkforlifewc.com

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