Fr. James Brent, O.P., leads retreats and administers the sacraments to participants in Project Rachel, a ministry to women who have had abortions and are seeking reconciliation with the Church. He also serves as chaplain for the US bishops’ nationwide Project Rachel efforts. BlackFriars sat down with Fr. James to discuss this important ministry.
How does Project Rachel help women who have had abortions?
When a woman has an abortion, shame and self-hatred overwhelm her psychologically and emotionally. Most bury it under layers of defense mechanisms and go many years without facing it. The first step is contacting Project Rachel. It’s a great grace when a woman can take that step. Gradually, if she continues the process and keeps going to meetings and retreats, defense mechanisms come down and she’s able to accept God’s love and mercy and heal in a serious way.
How has your Dominican formation prepared you for this ministry?
If I didn’t have a strong Dominican sense of the power of the Word of God, the power of preaching, and the grace of Saint Dominic, I would be overwhelmed. I’d walk away thinking ‘The devil has won; that child has been destroyed and so has the mother.’ But the Word of God can cut through all this and give life, hope, and a way forward. I just preach the Good News: Jesus is Lord. He is risen from the dead. He has conquered sin and death. He is full of merciful love. He is radiating light. And this world in which we live is passing away.
What outcome have you seen from the program?
A lot of women who have had abortions and repented become amazing Catholics. They go to Holy Hours, they say the Rosary daily, they never miss Mass and go to daily Mass sometimes. They’ve come to learn, ‘I need this; I’ll just be lost if I don’t have it.’
To contact Project Rachel, dial 888-456-HOPE (4673) or visit HopeAfterAbortion.com.