Pondering the Catholic Church’s Response to Mental Illness

This is a guest post by Rachel Chow.  Rachel is a Notre Dame graduate theology student, currently working on her Master of Theological Studies and working with CSPRI.


Last month, the New York State Catholic bishops issued a statement entitled, “’For IAm Lonely and Afflicted’: Toward a Just Response to the Needs of Mentally Ill Persons.”  The statement was a combination of facts about mental illness, policy proposals to the New York state legislature, and, most importantly, exhortations “to  every chaplain, every religious education director and Catholic school principal, and all others in positions of Church leadership at every level to welcome with openness and affection those men, women and children who are afflicted with any form of mental illness and to integrate them into the life of the Church to the fullest extent possible.”  I say that this last aspect, the call to compassion among Catholic leaders, the most significant facet of this document because it highlights the Church’s unique role in care for those with mental illnesses in our communities and our parishes.  It is both an acknowledgement of what the Church can and does do, and a recognition that the Church is called to do more.     Continue reading

Fr. Augustus Tolton, Servant of God

20_bannerWith yesterday being the memorial of Saint Katherine Drexel, who founded schools in the Southern United States for African Americans and in the West for Native Americans, and on the heels of Black History Month, it seems overdue to recognize that the Church is now in the early stages of considering the cause for sainthood of Father Augustus Tolton, the first African-American diocesan Catholic priest. Fr. Tolton would be the first African-American saint from the United States. Although an American, Fr. Tolton attended seminary and in 1886 was ordained in Rome, because, due to his race, no American seminary would accept him. Despite this exclusion, Fr. Tolton persevered through seminary and served in pious dedication to the Church and to the Lord.
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