‘Pastoral Care Project – Annual Week of Prayer for Dementia and Annual Day of Prayer for World Mental Health Day 2011’

Colehill – Awarded £5,000

The Pastoral Care Project is a registered charity with many years experience in listening to the spiritual and human needs of sufferers of dementia and their carers. Under the leadership of Frances Molloy the Project aimed to develop the Week of Prayer for Dementia from March 12th to 19th. The main mission of the week is to raise awareness of the spiritual needs of the frail elderly and those with dementia, enabling carers to support them in their journey to the fullness of life. Prayer is encouraged through presentations for children, teachers, governors, parents and link with parishes.

The particular project aim was to raise awareness among younger people of the condition of dementia in order for them to appreciate the effect it can have on peoples’ lives. Schools, parishes and care homes have been reached locally and international interest has been expressed as well.

The input and reaction of the children who took part was a delight and the success in raising awareness is highlighted by the following comment:
“It was really interesting to learn that some sufferers of Dementia remember their prayers and hymns and still have their faith even if they’re forgetful of other things in their daily lives.” Sam, Year 5 pupil.

Carers known to the Project were very moved and felt supported by the number of people praying nationally and were comforted by the fact that their loved ones were remembered and prayed for at the weekend masses and by children in schools.  They have told us that they find this Project a very helpful resource and are so pleased to be part of it.  Each month has seen a constant stream of visitors to the website.

Which achievements are you most proud of?

The increase in prayer was brought about by opting for a Prayer Card which could be used by any individual in any setting; we felt this would be more worthwhile than doing a newsletter which we had done the previous year at the same cost.

The prayer was instrumental in the Project being asked to lead a weekend retreat for the Bridgend Deanery in Wales, who wanted to offer pastoral support to carers.  The theme of the weekend was ‘The Sacredness of the Human Heart’ based on Psalm 139 and the Emmaus Story.  From that several people have formed a core group called ‘Deanery Pastoral Companions’ and their first commitment will be to offer a Quiet Day for Carers in September. This new initiative has received a private donation and a donation from their local secondary school as a direct result of the school presentations.

Requests for additional Prayer Cards came from parishes in UK dioceses, from schools in Wales, and Westminster Prayer Group plus a catholic care home in the USA..

The international networking side has really taken off and we are thrilled that emailing the press release and website link to ETWN has brought about more prayer.

The YouTube resource was always one of our aims and to have achieved it in such short a time with the help of a parishioner was wonderful.  This encouraged a child in Wales to ask us to make a film of her poem about her grandparents.  Since then more prayers have appeared on YouTube relating to Dementia.  A really beautiful family prayer for dementia has been uploaded by ETWN.  We plan to add more prayers and reflective stories on YouTube in the future as the prayer is top of prayer and dementia search and to date there has been a reasonable number of visits.  The purchase of a video camera enabled us to produce the YouTube prayer resource and it has great potential for the future as it will enable the Project to produce more such resources.

Who, do you think, has most benefited from your project?

There has been a benefit to the whole church and wider community.  People suffering from dementia have to be the greatest beneficiaries though, from all the prayers said, the masses offered before, on and following the Week of Prayer.  Hopefully, families and carers will feel the benefit, knowing that although they may often be alone dealing with what can be a very debilitating illness they are not forgotten.

I know of many parish priests who have valued the bidding prayers, prayer cards and other resources, such as Instructions for my Funeral Mass. The Week has been a way of addressing what is often seen as a difficult subject for many individuals and family.

Prayers were also created for World Mental Health Day.

To hear Frances’s talk about ‘Week of Prayer for Dementia’ see the video below:

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