Saddleback and Orange diocese to sponsor mental health event

Warren and Bishop Vann

Warren and Bishop Vann

The following comes from a Feb. 25 story in the Aurora (CO) Sentinel.

A year after his son’s suicide, popular evangelical pastor Rick Warren is taking on a new mental health ministry inspired by his personal tragedy.

Warren, founder of Saddleback Church and a best-selling author, will team with the Roman Catholic diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are struggling with mental illness.

The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church grew out of private conversations Warren had with the local Catholic bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, after his son’s death and his own writings in his journal as he processed his grief. Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide last April after struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years.

“I’m certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain,” Warren said Monday as he met with Vann to discuss the March 28 event. “I remember writing in my journal that in God’s garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit.”

After Matthew’s suicide, more than 10,000 people wrote to Warren and his wife, Kay, to share their own struggles with mental illness, he said. The conference will address a range of mental health issues, from bipolar disorder to suicide to more easily hidden issues such as anxiety, eating disorders and addiction. Attendees can choose from among 20 interactive workshops within the conference.

“When Kay and I began ministering to people with HIV/AIDS about a dozen years ago, I thought AIDS was the greatest taboo. But actually, I think mental illness is,” he said. “And we want to remove the stigma.”

The focus on mental health is a natural outgrowth for churches, which have long been the first stop for the faithful who are suffering and need guidance, Vann said.

As a newly ordained deacon in 1980, Vann said, his first funeral Mass was for a man who had committed suicide. Later, a man hearing voices knocked on the parish door seeking relief.

Vann didn’t feel equipped to handle either situation properly, he recalled.

The conference will put an emphasis on providing resources to churches so that people in need can get the help they need immediately — and so faith workers can get insight into the challenges confronting the mentally ill and their families….

To read the entire story, click here.

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  1. My heart and condolences goes out to Pastor Warren for the loss of his son. Mental illness, stress and anxiety are as much a silent killer as is high blood pressure. It takes its toll over time, but for many, ends up taking many down who otherwise could have/should have survived. I hope and pray that the Saddleback Christian Community and the Diocese of Orange can forge a partnership that will provide the much needed assistance to those who just need someone to listen to their story and empathize with their suffering. Godspeed Bishop Vann and Pastor Warren!

  2. This type of ministry is long overdue. It’s would be one of the first opporutnities for Catholics and all others to interact with their fellow congregants who may have mental health issues–hopefully during childhood or adolescence—and to uncover who the young people are who are abused at home. most, but not all, mental health issues with young people emanate from child abuse and neglect, even in affluent homes like you find in Orange county. Please pray for that this outreach effort will build and grow, and that parishes and other churches will take it seriously and support it.

    When I was elementary school and high school there hearing screenings, vision screenings, TB tests, but no mental health screening! Why not?

    • Those types of screenings may be misleading. As an educator I believe there is a need for this type of pre-screening. However, just as adults are quick to assume that a child is ADHD or Autistic, there would have to be certain protocols to take place so as not to label children too quickly.

    • good cause, a good portion of the mental illnesses we have today are caused by substance abuse. Extra-marital sex as well as abortion are both strong predictors for both substance abuse and mental illness, most especially depression and suicide. On top of this, children who come from single parent families are more likely to experience these negative realities than those from an intact family with a married mother and father.

      If you really want to put your efforts into a good cause, please consider ways in which you can help to further strengthen marriages and families. 🙂

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