“In God’s garden of grace, even a broken tree bears fruit,” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said. Indeed. Rick and his wife Kay are collaborating with a variety of organizations, including the Catholic Diocese of Orange, to begin a serious ministry to those plagued with mental illness. The Garden tended to by God and His Church recognizes the presence of Mercy among broken branches and exposed roots. Read about the initiative here.
Rick and Kay lost their son to suicide. And is an alarming number of people who take their lives, even in the clergy. In 2013, a newly ordained priest in the Harrisburg Diocese took his life after years of darkness that he could not bear. In the last a few years I have been sad over hearing of priests facing death by their own hands. The Christian response is not to run away from death by suicide but to face it squarely in the face. The question of suicide has to be discussed and worked on in broader Christian community as a matter of faith and human ecology. To absent from this widespread darkness is tantamount to pastoral negligence.
The collaboration of the three sponsors is linked in this website: Mental health and the Church.
The goal of the Saddleback Church, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County and the Diocese of Orange is to engage in a sustained campaign to tackle mental health issues in their faith programs and from the pulpits in America. Recently, a gathering worked on topics like “Christianity and Depression,” “How to Launch a Support Group and Counseling Ministry in your Church,” “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time” and “Food and The Body: Three Steps to Healing Eating Disorders through Community.”
Erika I. Richie of the O.C. Register said, “Warren and Vann say they not only want to help those suffering, they want to empower church leaders. The goal is to equip pastors and churches nationwide in ways that will bring professional help and relief for those tortured by mental illness.”
The Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus have a booklet, “Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Response” which I would thrown in the mix of resources available.