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St. Dymphna Society offers new mental health ministry

Support group formed for people with mental and emotional illnesses, their families

Published: November 22, 2014   

Mike Rose, a member of Immaculate Conception Church in North Little Rock, introduced Catholic Charities last year to a book called “Welcomed and Valued — Building Faith Communities of Support and Hope with People with Mental Illness and Their Families.”

Based on personal experience Rose believed there was a need for parishes to become more educated on the issue of mental and emotional illness. He also felt, as the book’s title suggests, that parishes needed to find ways to be more welcoming and inclusive of those with mental illness. One year later, Rose’s idea for a new ministry has come to fruition.

The first organizational meeting of the St. Dymphna Society was held in October at St. John Center in Little Rock. Named after St. Dymphna, patron of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness, it is a support group for those struggling with these illnesses and their loved ones.

One element of the St. Dymphna Society is addressing the spiritual needs of the members. For those who feel cut off from their Catholic faith, those who fear stigmatization, or those who have lost all connection with their spiritual life, the St. Dymphna Society provides a safe place to share thoughts and feelings. 

Fourteen people attended the first meeting in Little Rock. The meeting began with the celebration of Mass. The next meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 25 at the St. John Center.

St. Dymphna Society support groups are not limited to the Little Rock area. Groups may grow organically in any parish at any time. Blessed Sacrament Church in Jonesboro is already exploring starting a group.

The St. Dymphna Society meetings are one component of an overall mental health ministry being developed by Catholic Charities. The office also plans to provide education and resources to pastors to help them meet the needs of parishioners with mental and emotional illness.

Feedback received so far from priests and parishioners has been positive, with many stating that a mental health ministry is greatly needed.

“Welcomed and Valued” is available as a PDF file through the National Catholic Partnership on Disability and is available in English and Spanish. 

For more information, contact Rebecca Cargile of Catholic Charities by calling (501) 664-0340 or via e-mail.

This report was supplied by Catholic Charities of Arkansas.

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