Dear Friends of Life, Welcome to another edition of Frontlines!

Dr. Theresa Burke and Bob Lalonde in Australia - September 2010

After a 2.5 hour flight from Queenstown, New Zealand and another 2 hour time zone change, Dr. Burke and Bob arrived in Sydney, dropped off their bags and headed straight to the Good Shepherd Seminary to speak with 35 men at the invitation of the Rector Fr Anthony Percy.  Fr. Pavone had previously met the rector in the US and was pleased to be able to send Dr Burke and Bob over to share all of our outreach ministries with them, but most especially Rachel's Vineyard, our post-abortion healing ministry co-founded by Dr Burke.

Dr. Burke walked the seminarians through her discovery of the trauma effects on women who had had abortions.  Many of the women who had gone to her for therapy for eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia ended up tracing back their disorders to traumas suffered from having had one or more abortions. She let them know that 43% of women in the US under the age of 45 have had an abortion. Dr Burke went on to provide an overview of a Rachel's Vineyard weekend retreat.  She explained the various stages of grief women and men suffer, how they act out that grief and finally the grace of healing they receive at the end of the retreat.  Because Rachel's Vineyard has had a presence throughout Australia for the past 10 years, Dr Burke was able to offer their services to the seminarians if they wanted to learn more. Fr Peter Maher, Coordinator for the Sydney group was there and also shared his experience as a counselor.  The seminarians were very receptive and asked a lot of great questions.  Afterwards Bob also shared PFL's other ministries with the seminarians like Silent No More, Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, Parliamentary Network for Critical issues and important new initiatives such as our Freedom Rides.

Next day Dr. Burke had a full-on all day with Rachel's Vineyard leaders who traveled from as far away as Perth and Tasmania to spend the day with her.  In the morning they strategized ways to  manage the expansion, growth and mentoring needs of Rachel’s Vineyard throughout Australia and now spreading to neighboring places like Singapore, Africa and New Zealand. In the afternoon more Rachel’s Vineyard team members arrived to participate in a training session for facilitation skills that can be used on Rachel’s Vineyard retreats.

As soon as the training finished, Bob and Theresa  left for a fabulous evening at the legendary PJ Gallagher’s Pub, the place where Theology on Tap first began during the activities of World Youth day in Sydney. Dr Burke addressed the young adult leaders who are part of the ongoing Theology on Tap group followed by a lively discussion including many great questions from medical and nursing students.  The next day, our tireless team headed onward to meet with Cardinal George Pell. 

Theresa  expressed gratitude for all the support that Cardinal Pell has given to the Rachel’s Vineyard team in Sydney over the past ten years . She also thanked the Cardinal for honoring Julie Kelly, the woman who brought Rachel’s Vineyard from the United States and spent the last decade spreading it throughout Australia.  Julie was knighted by the Cardinal last year when the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI bestowed on her the honor of Dame of the order of St. St Sylvester for her distinguished service to the Archdiocese of Sydney.  According to this ancient order, Julie is one of the few people in the world who have permission to ride a horse through the Vatican. 
Theresa and Bob continued to visit with the Cardinal and had a lively conversation about Rachel’s Vineyard and some of the particular issues around abortion and healing.  They also updated the Cardinal on the activities of Priests for Life.    Cardinal Pell then introduced his staff at the Marriage and Family life office.   Some important conversation centered around the importance of introducing new efforts to incorporate information about post abortion healing into Marriage Preparation programs.   Following these discussions we boarded another plane and headed north to Brisbane.  

Theresa and Bob both gave a public lecture for Cherish Life.  The event was organized by Teresa Martin, a fabulous pro-life leader in Brisbane.  The next day we went to visit The John Paul II Family Life Center and The Queensland Center for Bio Ethics, directed by Ray Campbell.  He gave us a tour of the building and showed us a brilliant collection of catalogued scholarly articles on important topics.  Their center is a paradise for any researchers who want to study life and family issues!  And if all this action was not enough, the trip to Brisbane culminated with a  clinical training for medical and Mental health professionals taught by Dr.  Burke.   A number of workers from a nearby hospital attended.  Nurses who have worked with patients undergoing abortion recognized their own symptoms of trauma and shared their experiences and grief because of their  participation in hospital abortions.  As the seminar progressed, those listening were brought to tears as they listened to the destructive impact of abortion – but hope and the promise of healing was offered as Theresa gave a moving overview of Rachel’s Vineyard.  There is no doubt that the next Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in Brisbane will be quite full!  Gwen Winterscheidt, the therapist who facilitates the retreats in Queensland gave out information on their upcoming retreats and recruited new counselors to help.

While Dr Burke was meeting with mental health professionals Bob spent time with the leadership of the state chapter for the National Civic Council headed by Luke McCormack and Ron Munn and discussed common prolife issues and strategy.  Luke also made sure Bob got to see a koala and kangaroo before leaving Australia.

After saying their goodbyes, Bob and Theresa headed back to Sydney, where they were greeted by the King of Australian Hospitality, Fr Peter Maher, who once again invited us to make his rectory our home.  Theresa and Father Peter chatted late into the night planning how Australian delegates will participate in next year’s Rachel’s Vineyard leadership Conference.  Theresa and Bob are grateful for all the great people they met along the way and their passion for building a culture of life in Australia

The great priests and seminarians of the Good Shepherd

Teresa Martin, President of Cherish Life getting things under way.

Fr Peter Maher sharing the Rachel's Vineyard Ministry in Sydney

Bob presenting Teresa Fr Pavone's Dailly Reflections book

After Theresa's talk with the seminarians

Next stop, Brisbane and presentations at Cherish Life

Bob presenting Fr Rector Anthony Percy, with personal copy of Fr Pavone's Pro-life Reflections for Every Day

Last day in Brisbane with RV leaders Lisa Demedio and Gwen Winterscheidt

Dr Burke speaking at Theology on Tap to youth leaders in Sydney

Fr. Peter Maher from Newtown hosted us throughout our busy stay in Sydney

Taking in Theresa's talk

Dr Burke, Teresa and Bob

Theresa with an On Tap supporter

A trip to the Queensland Bioethics Center and JPII Center

Fr Vincent and Fr Murphy, two Dominican priests also came out for the On Tap event

Great meeting at the Centers with Ray and Gail

Thanking the organizers, especially Jessica Langrell for a great evening of sharing at P.J. Gallagher's

Luke, Bob and Ron for a meeting at the National Civic Council

Cardinal George Pell, a great and long time RV supporter received us for a good discussion in his office

Dr Burke holds an afternoon seesion at the Centacare

Cardinal Pell wanted us to meet with his Life, Marriage and Family team - Chris Meney, Director, and Mary

Teresa Martin, Theresa and Julie Borger

St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney

After a great visit to Brisbain the team says goodbye

Cherish Life supporters

Can't leave Australia without saying g;day to the koalas

Getting ready fo her talk

and their friends

Some of the materials for sales

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