The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is looking for “merciful companions” — men and women to walk through the healing process with those affected by an abortion.

Each day in Southern California, approximately 225 women opt for an abortion and the consequences can involve severe depression, trauma, passive aggressive behavior and grief due to their loss. In extreme cases, the women can turn to drug addiction or develop eating disorders.

These symptoms are also true for the men affected by an abortion, regardless of what form their involvement took.

Sharon St. Pierre, a licensed clinical social worker and consultant for the archdiocese, says, “We greatly need men [to join the ministry] because the men affected by an abortion are even more silent about their pain and coming out and wanting to heal.”

St. Pierre says that those volunteering will feel empowered by using their own personal past grief and suffering to relate and show compassion to another person struggling with these same emotions.

In addition, she says, “This is a program that can be implemented in many ways.” Those hoping to help with a healing ministry at their parish can use the skills learned during this program. She adds, “It’s not exclusive to being a Merciful Companion for the Archdiocese of L.A.”

Volunteers will take part in face-to-face training for at least 16 hours to understand post-abortion stress and how to help on both psychological and spiritual levels.

The volunteers will then partner with a caller in need of help for a six- to seven-week period to help them begin the healing process, working through the person’s anger, need for forgiveness, grief and feelings of loneliness.

The caller’s healing will continue after the six to seven weeks are over. The client will have the chance to continue the process with weekend retreats or other healing ministries.

The ministry has partnered with Options United, which will serve as their hotline. Staff at Options United will patch callers through to a Merciful Companion.

St. Pierre says the new program will launch in the fall. At the moment, she is hoping for at least 10 volunteers (both Spanish and English speakers are needed). Several people have already volunteered.

Each volunteer will receive special weekly support and training from St. Pierre even after the initial training.

For more information, please email Sharon St. Pierre at [email protected].