The following comes from an August 9 Catholic San Francisco article by Vicki Evans:

This is the Year of Mercy. Noting that many have dismissed “the extreme harm that follows a decision to procure an abortion,” Pope Francis offered a special invitation to those who have experienced abortion to approach the sacrament of confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation. He also called priests to offer sacramental reconciliation to those in post-abortion pain who are seeking reconciliation.

Inspired by the Holy Father’s words, the archdiocesan Respect Life Program’s Project Rachel Ministry has coordinated a comprehensive program on “Insights in Healing and Reconciliation after Abortion.” Our outreach has three components.

The first is a training seminar for priests, offered on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 14, in Hall C at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Following a noon luncheon, nationally known speakers Vicki Thorn and Father Kenneth Metz will present a workshop from 1-5 p.m. emphasizing the priest’s role in post-abortion reconciliation and healing. They will provide insights into understanding the spiritual and emotional impact of abortion and the unique situation facing post-abortive women and men.

That evening from 6-8 p.m. deacons and their wives, along with men in formation for the diaconate, will meet in Hall C of the Cathedral for a buffet dinner and workshop with Thorn and Father Metz. The workshop will provide recommendations for effective pastoral approaches to encourage reconciliation after abortion, since deacons are so well-positioned to reach out to and counsel those hurting from abortion.

Our third program component is a conference for the laity, especially tailored to inform the Catholic community, Project Rachel mentors, supporters, counselors, and others interested in addressing the pain and grief experienced by many after abortion. Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, will discuss new insights into understanding abortion, sensitive ways to offer support, and how to refer for healing and sacramental reconciliation. This conference is being held Saturday, Sept. 17, at St. Brendan Parish, 29 Rockaway, San Francisco. It begins with registration and a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. The morning program starts at 9 a.m. followed by Mass and a buffet luncheon at noon. The afternoon program runs from 1:30-3:00 p.m. A $25 admission fee covers the program and program materials, as well as breakfast and lunch. United for Life has generously offered scholarships to anyone unable to pay.