‘‘WHOEVER SUFFERS MENTAL ILLNESS ALWAYS BEARS GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS, AND HAS AN INALIENABLE RIGHT TO BE CONSIDERED A PERSON AND TREATED AS SUCH.” -ST. POPE JOHN PAUL II
On May 1, 2018, the Bishops of California published a pastoral letter, Hope and Healing,* from their work at their conference. Together, they brought forth their vision for all Catholics and people of goodwill to care for and minister to those with mental illness.
They wrote, “As pastors and bishops, we are deeply concerned with the heartbreaking prevalence of mental illness in our society and are taking action to address this tragic form of misery and sorrow. Though not as apparent and familiar as general medical problems, mental illness is equally important and is uniquely challenging and burdensome. It strikes deep within the human soul, impacting and influencing a person’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors; thereby affecting all aspects of a person’s life—work and rest, family life and relationships, prayer and one’s relationship with God.”
Starting next month, our newly formed Mental Health Ministry team of Barbara Kulle, Elizabeth Montgomery, Huey Ho, and myself will be offering The Sanctuary Course® for Catholics for our parishioners and anyone interested in learning more about mental health. Beyond screening the films Angst, LIKE, and Upstanders, Sanctuary is our first group event and we will continue to grow this ministry.
The Sanctuary Course is an eight-session class designed for Catholics, but all are welcome! There are videos to watch and a planned lesson for each week which includes readings and discussion questions. Workbooks will be made available to all who join. Together we will walk through these topics to gain a better understanding of mental health, to know we are not alone, and that there is a healing path for all.
You do not need to have a mental illness to attend. This course is helpful for all because we all have mental health and all of us have been stretched to new levels living through our first pandemic. We will discuss mental health and mental illness, understanding we all may have moments that take us to a place we may not fully understand or feel comfortable. Most of us have experienced or know someone who
has gone through depression or is still in it.
When dealing with my own situational depression, I sought professional help and tried to learn more about mental health. I realized people within our diocese have joined the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers based in San Diego whose efforts work to help parishes build these ministries to help more. Mental Health Ministers began meeting at the Chancery in 2019. Teams are forming at other parishes as well as ours. With our diocese, we are bringing you many tools and programs to help.
Too many people live in silent pain and we need everyone to know your mental health matters to us.
Our Sanctuary program is being planned to begin in February. Details coming soon.
* Full text available at https://cacatholic.org/article/hope-and-healing
— Reflection by Catherine Campbell