“Our approach is gentle and confidential,” say the Sisters of Life. Photos courtesy of the Sisters of Life
“Our approach is gentle and confidential,” say the Sisters of Life. Photos courtesy of the Sisters of Life
”Jane” is among the many women who has found forgiveness from abortion through the Sisters of Life’s intervention program.

Raised in a strict Catholic household in the Philippines, Jane began a relationship with a man who turned out to be abusive. She got pregnant twice, and seeing no way out of her situation, she aborted both children, a fact that still haunts her decades later.

“I was in total darkness; we never talked about [the abortions],” she recalled. “Never. I felt that I couldn’t go to Confession, because I was a double murderer. I was in total denial.”

Jane married the man and bore him four more children, but the two abortions continued to weigh heavily on her mind.

“I stayed in that abusive marriage for 20 years,” she said. “I became active in my church, but felt like I was living a lie. I used to pray and wake up with a heavy heart. Even after I divorced him, I thought I was free, but I was not happy.”

Learning about the Sisters of Life through an advertisement in her parish bulletin, Jane called the order around Christmastime in 2015. The religious sister she spoke with asserted that God “could give me oceans of mercy,” Jane remembered. She accepted an invitation to their monthly Day of Prayer and Healing.

“I realized that someone really cares, I felt at home, and they were so welcoming,” she said. “I went to Confession, and it was so freeing.”

‘Our First Work is Prayer’

A New York-based order founded by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1991, the Sisters of Life offer numerous programs, and are once again reminding those in the Diocese of Trenton and beyond that they can help transform the pain of abortion into peace and reminding all of God’s love and forgiveness.

“Our first work is prayer,” asserts Sister of Life Veronica Mary, the order’s Hope and Healing mission coordinator. “Our goal is to draw closer to Jesus and know his loving power. To not be judged is immensely healing.”

The order’s Hope and Healing ministry includes Days of Prayer and Healing in English and Spanish, where small groups of women meet for testimony, group discussions, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Subsequent events include monthly gatherings, women’s study groups, annual weekend retreats and other special events.

She noted that women often travel great distances to avail themselves of counseling for abortion and its aftermath in order to maintain anonymity.

“Our approach is gentle and confidential,” Sister Veronica Mary said. “Fear keeps people from reaching out. The pain can be placed in God’s hands; the Light of Christ pierces through. There is a restoration, not destruction, and it turns into something good.”

The ministry’s offerings include telephone counseling for men as well, for “men suffer after abortion very deeply, but they tend to suppress it,” she said. “Some are shattered. Abortion affects everybody.”

The Sisters of Life are currently slating programs for this fall, and pandemic circumstances may dictate individual or remote counseling rather than in-person meetings. The schedule should solidify in early September, “but we are in touch with women all the time,” Sister Veronica Mary said.

She added that regardless of each woman’s unique circumstances or when the abortion occurred, the time to seek internal peace through God’s love is now.

“Everyone I counsel says that they would tell another woman, ‘don’t wait,’” she said. “God doesn’t want you to carry that burden or feel that shame for the rest of your life. He wants you to know his tenderness and his love. The sooner you get help, the sooner you get back to God.

“None of us deserve forgiveness, but mercy triumphs over all because of his love,” Sister Veronica Mary continued. “We deserve mercy because we are his children. He does all the work.”

Giving Back

Jane now volunteers with the Sisters of Life in their ministry. “It is a beautiful way to let a woman know how abundant God’s love is and that he is forgiving,” she said. “I learned I am not defined by my mistakes, and the Lord has the power and the grace to comfort me.”

Jane’s advice to women in her situation: Rely upon the Blessed Mother who knew the pain of losing a son.

“When I think about my two aborted children, I feel hope is replacing the sorrow,” she said. “The Blessed Mother is there. Let her guide you. Your aborted children are with her.”