CHARLESTON — The weekend of March 15 will be milestone for Project Rachel with the launch of what is believed to be the nation’s first college campus training program at the College of Charleston.
A two-day seminar will be held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to train men and women interested in counseling those whose lives have been affected by abortion. Plans are being made to launch the program during the 2004-5 school year.
Since its inception in 1984, Project Rachel has assisted women and men dealing with post-abortion emotional and spiritual wounds through the aid of trained priests and counselors. It was founded by Vicki Thorn in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as a ministry of the Catholic Church, although its reach extends far beyond the church.
“This is a diocesan program all over the world. It would be impossible to say how many lives have been touched,” said Father Jeffrey Kendall, director of campus ministry for the College of Charleston.
Thanks to the vision of Father Kendall and Tina Jost, a mother of three, the project is underway.
“Sister Rita [Schroeder] and I discussed that there was an omission in our program,” said Father Kendall. “We received a letter from Tina about the possibility of starting a program here, and it was an answer to our prayers.”
Jost said that Project Rachel was a ministry that God had placed in her heart a year ago, but that she had felt the need to wait on his lead.
“I knew that I wanted to help, but I wasn’t sure where or how,” she said. “I decided to educate myself and discovered that college-aged women need someone to talk to.”
Jost said that a shift has occurred in women who are seeking help over the years.
“When Project Rachel first started, it was primarily dealing with women who had had abortions 10, 20, even 30 years ago,” Jost said. “But we discovered that women may need help sooner. So many younger people have been coming out needing help.”
This growing need has prompted the College of Charleston pilot program for Project Rachel.
“As far as we know, no other campus ministry in the world knows this is happening,” said Father Kendall. “We hope to eventually have this ministry at the University of South Carolina and in the Upstate at Clemson.”
Vicki Thorn will be present at the two-day seminar to provide the necessary training. She has recently completed a training program specifically designed to work with college students.
“I really look forward to Vicki’s coming,” said Jost. “Her program is truly amazing. I can’t wait to see and work with her.”
Following the training, Jost has her work cut out for her. She will act as the coordinator for the Diocese of Charles-ton college program, a job she is eager to take on.
“I understand that with such personal one-on-one type counseling, the burden can get overwhelming,” said Jost, “but what Vicki suggests is that as soon as you begin to feel a weight you give it to God.”
“I am so thankful for the way everything is coming together,” said Jost. “We have prayed about everything and things have just fallen into place.”
For more information on attending the training at the cathedral, contact Jost at (843) 452-1731. To find out more about Project Rachel, visit the national Web site at www.noparh.org.