On December 12, 2019, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Diocese of Pueblo held a Diocesan Holy Hour and Memorial Mass for children who have died before birth. The inspiration came from the life and witness of Emily Glasser – a local Post-Abortion Support and Healing Activist living in the Diocese of Pueblo. Through the hope and healing ministry in the Diocese of Pueblo, we came to learn Emily’s story. We sat down with Emily to share her journey, as well as the inspiration behind the Holy Hour and Memorial Mass.
What inspired the Holy Hour and Memorial Mass? Why was it held on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe?
Emily: I am a post-abortive woman and for the past year and a half I've been on a healing journey. While praying the Rosary outside of a Planned Parenthood, I felt a really strong desire to have a Mass to help post-abortive families and families who have lost children before birth to feel connected and closer to their child/children. We chose the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe because she is the Patroness of the Unborn.
How did you get involved in Respect Life efforts?
Emily: I got involved in Respect Life efforts through working with Fr. Matthew Wertin in post-abortion counseling. After our initial meeting, I felt a calling to help shed a light on the ministry of post-abortion healing. As a post-abortive woman, I know what I wish I knew about and what has been helpful in finding my way back to God, so I began to bring him ideas and suggestions for outreach. From there the work we've done and we're continuing to do has taken off.
What would you like to say to men and women mourning the loss of a child?
Emily: Mourning the loss of a child is one of the most painful things a parent can experience. Mourning the loss of a child who died before birth adds a layer of mystery and hurt because you know you will spend the rest of your life waiting to meet that child. One of the most comforting things I've come to know and experience is that my child loves me. I can feel it every day, every time I think about him. I know that I can't physically see him, but I know there are ways to keep him present in my everyday life. Writing letters to your child can help to ease that pain because it gives you an avenue to talk to your child. Asking God to reveal your child to you can help a grieving parent to start to know their child. Having little things in your life that remind you of your child can keep him/her always present in your life. I have many little reminders around my house. I have a rosary bracelet with a miraculous medal and a token with water from Lourdes France in it. I wear it daily because that bracelet keeps my son with me always. No matter the type of loss, your pain and suffering are real, and when you place yourself and your child in the hands of God, He will guide you to each other.
What steps of healing and forgiveness would you recommend to women who have experienced abortion(s)?
Emily: Life after abortion is something you can't imagine unless you experience it for yourself. It may take days, months or even years, but eventually, women come face to face with the pain, isolation, grief, and shame they feel from their abortion. Once those feelings set in, the only way for them to be processed and worked through in a healthy way, is through the assistance of God. Which is why He gave us the Sacrament of Confession. Salvation History is built on God's promise of full forgiveness and mercy. Taking the initial step to finding a path to healing is often the hardest step. There are so many amazing ministries available to post-abortive women: Project Rachel, Rachel's Vineyard, and the Sisters of Life. These ministries offer confidential counseling and/or retreats that are designed to help post-abortive women work through their grief. If that feels like too much, I would suggest starting with Eucharistic Adoration. Spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament gave me the courage to seek help. Healing and forgiveness is a life long journey, but with God, by your side, it's not an impossible journey.
How important is it to have the support of a spouse and family post-abortion? What can family members do to be supportive?
Emily: Abortion not only destroys the life of a child, but it tears into the soul of the woman. Isolation and shame shroud her, leaving her to feel alone and unwanted. Having the support of a spouse and family is an important part of the healing process, but that support looks much different than what you might expect. Being supportive of a post-abortive woman does not mean you have to be supportive of her decision to abort. Your job is not to validate her choice, it's to validate her as a Daughter of God. A woman who is hurting from her abortion already knows that what she did was wrong, any reminder of it being a sin could only push her further away from seeking help and healing. My best piece of advice is to stay away from saying things like, "well you made the right choice at the time" or "you have nothing to regret". But also stay away from expressing anger and judgment, no matter what you are feeling. When a woman brings her abortion story to friends and family, she's often barely carrying the weight of her emotions, don't ask her to carry yours as well by letting your feelings out to her. The best way to support a post-abortive woman is to ask her how she currently feels about her abortion. Ask her if there's anything she wants to share with you. Ask her if she's thought about talking with someone who could help her heal. Let her lead the conversation and ask God to speak through you. You don't have to say the perfect thing or have an answer to the problem, she simply needs you to listen. Seek counseling yourself if you are struggling with a family member's abortion. The more you know about the healing process that she will go through and the more you embrace your healing processes, the more equipped you will be when face to face with an abortion story.
Father Matthew Wertin, Vicar for the New Evangelization, was commissioned by His Holiness Pope Francis and has been fully trained in offering counseling for post-abortive women. Because abortion reaches beyond the woman herself, he also offers counseling to men and family members. These counseling sessions are one on one and go at the pace of the individual. If you or anyone you know could benefit from meeting with Father Wertin, please contact him at 719-544-9861, ext. 1171 or email@example.com.
Contributor: Amanda Zurface resides in Pueblo, Colorado, where she serves as the Vice-Chancellor for the Diocese of Pueblo. She also serves as the Catholic Content Specialist for Covenant Eyes. Amanda holds a License and MA in Canon Law and a BA in Catholic Theology and Social Justice. She is the co-author of Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture and
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