Vicki Thorn, who founded post-abortion healing ministry’s Rachel Project, dies at 72

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MILWAUKEE (CNS) — Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome E. Listecki said the life and work of Project Rachel founder Vicki Thorn, who died suddenly April 20, is “living testimony to an unwavering and unwavering defense of life at all stages, and to the mercy of God. love.”

Thorn was 72 years old. The Catholic Herald, Milwaukee’s archdiocesan newspaper, reported that she died of a massive heart attack. Funeral arrangements were pending.

As the founder of the post-abortion healing ministry Project Rachel, she single-handedly created a post-abortion healing ministry at a time when none existed. She maintained an office at the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for 37 years.

During this time, his ministry expanded across the United States and around the world. Now overseen by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Project Rachel is a diocesan network of specially trained confessor priests, mental health professionals, spiritual directors, and others who provide confidential post-abortion care and continuous.

In an April 20 statement, Bishop Listecki said he and the staff at the pastoral center offered “our deepest condolences” to Thorn’s husband of 50 years, William, and the couple’s six children.

William Thorn is Emeritus Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies/Catholic Media Institute at Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University at Jesuit-run Marquette University.

“Our hearts break as we mourn Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel post-abortion healing ministry, and recipient of the 2021 @NotreDame Evangelium Vitae Medal. May she rest in peace,” the Nicola Center for Health tweeted. Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame University.

Thorn, who was also executive director of the National Office of Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, received the Evangelium Vitae Medal at a mass and banquet in April 2021.

COVID-19 delayed the presentation by a year; she was due to receive the honor in April 2020, but in March of that year the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

When he announced the honor for Thorn in October 2019, O. Carter Snead, the director of William P. and Hazel B. White of the Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, said she had dedicated her life “to take care of women and men”. who have been hurt by abortion.”

He called his work “a living witness to the unconditional love and mercy that are at the heart of the culture of life”.

The annual honor is always announced on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October, and usually presented the following spring. The award consists of a specially commissioned medal and a $10,000 prize.

Thorn, a certified trauma counselor and spiritual director, started The Rachel Project in 1984 while working in the Respect Life office of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The first training workshop for a small group of participants took place on September 19, 1984.

She is the author of “Progetto Rachele, il volto della compassione” (“Project Rachel, the face of compassion”), published in 2009 by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. She has written numerous articles and spoken internationally about the Rachel Project and the effects of the consequences of abortion on women, men and family members and the post-abortion healing process.

Together with her husband, she was inducted in 2008 into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. In 2009, she received the People of Life Award from the USCCB for her pro-life service to the Catholic Church, and in 2017 Pope Francis reappointed her as a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for the life. She was first appointed to the academy in 2011.

In a statement on his honor at Notre Dame, Richard Doerflinger, retired associate director of the USCCB’s Pro-Life Activities Secretariat, said at the time that Thorn “not only championed the cause of reconciliation and of post-abortion healing,” but had seen it become “an essential aspect of the pro-life ministry of the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world.”

He called Thorn “a leader in showing how the church’s view of human sexuality is supported by the findings of medical science, helping young people turn away from behaviors that lead to the tragedy of abortion.” added Doerflinger, who received the first Evangelium Vitae Medal in 2011.

Thorn had a psychology degree from the University of Minnesota. She was an American Academy of Bereavement-trained grief facilitator and a Resolve Through Sharing-certified perinatal loss facilitator.

She earned her trauma counseling certification at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was a longtime member of the Prenatal and Perinatal Health and Psychology Association.

Additionally, she has written and spoken about the sociological changes in society since 1960 and the “spiritual and psychological wounds” carried by Generation X and Generation Y as a result of these changes. She has also written about the role of stress in making abortion decisions and about ways to help women with pregnancies in crisis.

Lately, she has been giving presentations to groups of high school students, college students, and groups of adults on her recent research on the topic of “the biology of the theology of the body.”

Thorn was a member of St. Catherine Parish in Milwaukee. Besides her husband and children, she is survived by 19 grandchildren.

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