20 March 2012

Day of Prayer for Dementia

thank you for your presence this moment,
holding us in your love.
Help us to share your love
with those who live among us with dementia,
 that we may see your beauty in them.

Pastoral Care Project, located in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, whose mission is To raise awareness to the spiritual needs of the frail elderly - enabling carers to support them in their journey to the fullness of life has once again organised a Day of Prayer for Dementia.

Indeed, somewhat like World Youth Day, it was much more than a day of prayer but more than a week of prayer with special Masses and Prayer Events/Services being held in a number of English dioceses starting on 11 March and ending yesterday, the Solemnity of St Joseph.

Frances Molloy, the Project Manager and founder, originally from Rathlin Island, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, describes how Pastoral Care Promect came about:

In 1989, I was leading a Spiritual Development programme (Light Out of Darkness written by Sr Kathleen O’Sullivan SSL) and the theme of that particular week was ‘finding God in my weakness’, Romans 8.26-27. I met a lady with dementia in an EMI (Elderly and Mentally Infirm) Ward at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, while visiting as a church volunteer. She was also blind and yet seemed to have an awareness which captured my attention.

She couldn't remember her name – and yet she had this great awareness of God and others. Reflecting on the scripture and the visit, I became aware of how special and unique each person is. The visit highlighted that God still communicates his love through people with dementia and that listening was the way of understanding and meeting their spiritual needs. This was an inspirational visit, which led to the Project taking off in 1994, after many years of prayer and research.

I became involved with the Project when I was based at the Columban house in Solihull, south of Birmingham, from 2000 until 2002. It has become very clear to me over the years that God speaks to all of us very powerfully through those who are weakest and on the margins. The prayer in the video asks God 'that we may see your beauty in them'. For some this may be especially in those with dementia, for some in those with learning disabilities, for others in those who have been abused. Each of us finds ourself on the margins at one time or another.

My apologies to Frances for not posting this much sooner but those with dementia need our prayers and our care each day, not only on a designated day of prayer. And God reveals his beauty to us through them each day.

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