Ten years ago, Cynthia Cerny was living a life many people would envy. She had authored a best-selling book on her dating experiences and was a sought-after guest on numerous radio and television shows. And through her job as an executive assistant to high-powered CEOs in Denver, she frequently rubbed elbows with the rich and famous.
“From a worldly point of view, I was living the high life,” Cerny said. “I had divorced, started dating and wrote, “Losers, Creeps, Jerks and Weirdos,” she said. “I toured the U.S. and Canada and was on literally hundreds of radio and television programs.”
In fact, the Colorado Springs native seemed destined for a glamorous life from the time she was a small child. She started ice dancing at age 2 and appeared in her first show at age 3, she recalled.
“I grew up at the World Arena,” she said. “When I was skating, it was a very sheltered life. It was literally all I did 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
But Cerny’s exterior success masked inner turmoil. Although she was raised by devout Catholic parents and had regularly attended Divine Redeemer Parish in Colorado Springs growing up, she had drifted away from the faith as an adult.
“I never really connected to my faith in a very secure way, so that when I became a young adult and got out into the real world, without having that groundedness, I was out there with all kinds of ideas,” she said.
A self-described Christmas and Easter Catholic, Cerny had occasional thoughts of returning to the church, but her interactions with Catholics turned her off to the idea.
“When I tried to approach the Catholic Church a few times, I had some very bad experiences,” she said. “If the one time you reach out to the church it’s a bad experience, even if it’s just that one person, you label the Church and say, ‘that’s how the Church is.’
Having escaped an abusive marriage after ten years, Cerny entered the dating scene, but rather than finding the love she longed for, she instead found herself alone and pregnant.
“I continued to feel rejected from the Church, and my bad choices culminated in me having an abortion,” she said.
For the next several years, Cerny remained alienated from the Church, preferring to think of herself as “spiritual, not religious,” and she told no one of the abortion.
Her life changed abruptly, though, in November 2010, when she lay in a Denver hospital dying of an unexplained illness.
“I had a temperature of 105 degrees which they could not get under control,” Cerny said. “I was sure I would die. Then the overwhelming urge to pray came to me. The problem was, I didn’t know how to pray.”
For Cerny, the experience marked the beginning of a relationship with Christ journey back to the Catholic faith. Shortly after that, she saw an ad in a church bulletin for a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat (see more about Rachel’s Vineyard below), which is designed to help post-abortive men and women heal from the pain of abortion.
“I went with the worst attitude ever,” Cerny said. “I was sure it wouldn’t work for me, like all the other times I reached out to the church and they had turned their back on me and let me down. But it worked, it healed me; I met God there and I met mercy there.”
Cerny still never intended speak publicly of her abortion, but in September 2012, the title of a new book, “Waiting for a Name,” came to her while she was praying in church. She realized that God was asking her to go write a book about the value of human life, precisely because of her past.
“I have every argument of the pro-choice side. I thought Planned Parenthood was awesome,” she said. “This book takes head on the lie of our culture that women own their bodies.”
“Waiting for a Name” consists of 28 chapters filled with reflections on various topics, including not only abortion but about dating, marriage, work and time.
“This book speaks to every single person where they are,” she said.
The book came out on July 16 and has received an imprimatur from Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila. It has also been endorsed by Father Paul Wicker, pastor of Holy Apostles Parish, and Capuchin Father Gene Emrisek of The Catholic Center at the Citadel Mall.
Cerny said she hopes that, among other things, “Waiting for a Name” will other post-abortive men and women by showing them that they, too, can be forgiven.”
“There are untold walking wounded out there, and the only way abortion is going to end in our country is by healing those men and women who have experienced it,” she said. “I’ve been approached by the Association of Catholic chaplains because this is an area they don’t talk about because they don’t know the compassionate way to approach it.”
Wine & Dine in Rachel’s Vineyard Dinner Benefit
A festive and informative evening about the works of mercy provided for those spiritually and emotionally wounded by a past abortion. Ticket includes open wine bar and hors’ d’oeuvres, dinner by Pinocchio’s Italian Restaurant, live music and dessert.
When: 6-10 p.m. Sept. 27, 5 p.m. Mass before
Where: Sacred Heart of Mary Parish Hall, 6739 S Boulder Rd. in Boulder
Register: www. RVRColorado.org
Question: Edith Gutierrez 303-775-4108 or Laura Teta 720-227-6809