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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Project Rachel office celebrates its 10th anniversary. This article is from the August 18 edition of the Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.

In 1995, Former Arlington Bishop John R. Keating asked Deacon Ted Ostrom, director of the Office for Family Life, to reach out to women who were suffering from abortion. Ostrom appointed Gerri Laird, a part-time employee, to establish the counseling program.

Laird, copying the Project Rachel model established by Vicki Thorn in Milwaukee, directed the local office for nine years. In the process, she helped make it a national leader in the field of post-abortion counseling. More than 1,400 women have benefited from the spiritual and psychological assistance offered by Laird and her network of counselors and priests. She has helped redefine the Church’s pro-life ministry from condemnation to compassion.

The local Project Rachel Office marked its 10th anniversary on Aug. 15 with a Mass and luncheon at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. Father Mark S. Mealey, O.S.F.S., episcopal vicar for pastoral services and moderator of the curia, celebrated the Mass. He was assisted by Ostrom, who is now retired. Concelebrants included Fathers Jerry Wooton and Keith O’Hare, two diocesan priests who assist the Project Rachel office.

Susan Wills from the U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Office attended the celebration, along with pro-life leaders from across the region. Wills thanked Laird and her husband Bob, the current Family Life director, for providing strong leadership in the field and helping to guide other dioceses that established their own Project Rachel offices.

With a staff of two full-time and two part-time employees, Arlington is believed to have the largest Project Rachel office in the country. A new director, Sarah La Pierre, is scheduled to arrive on Sept. 1.

Rachel’s Vineyard is offering two weekend retreats for post-abortive women on Sept. 9-11 and Oct. 14-16. For additional information, call 703/841-2755 or e-mail your inquiry to projectrachel@arlingtondiocese.org.
I loved reading this article, partly because it's the first time I've heard of this large program and its director. How great to hear know of a program that has been quietly thriving and serving many, many women.

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