I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Connie Rakitan, the coordinator of a program called Faith and Fellowship – a ministry of faith formation for people who suffer from mental illness.
Statistics reveal that one in four American families are affected by mental illness. As catechists, we need to realize that 25% of those we teach are affected my mental illness, meaning that they or someone they know suffers from a mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, phobias, or major clinical depression, just to name a few.
Many people with mental illness can function and make great contributions to society. Unfortunately, people with mental illness are often socially isolated and even feel isolated from God. Connie’s Faith and Fellowship program seeks to help those with mental illness experience the love of God and of their sisters and brothers in faith. Faith and Fellowship strives to provide faith formation in a way suited to the needs of the mentally ill within the context of a small faith community as well as to offer opportunities for integration into the life and activities of the church or parish community. Connie provides training for her catechists to meet the unique needs of the faith community they are serving.
We as a Church are deeply appreciative to Connie and people who work with her in Faith and Fellowship for their dedication to our brothers and sisters who are often marginalized in our society. Their participation in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (ministering to the sick and “imprisoned”; offering counsel and comfort) is an inspiration to all of us.
Faith and Fellowship can be contacted at 38 N. Austin Blvd., Oak Park, IL 60302 / 708-383-9276.