Peer Support for Caregivers

Welcome to Emmaus Family Support. My name is Eric Gurash, a Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. While many of the people I meet and visit with are curious about the few worship and preaching ministries that make up the life of a Deacon, most are not aware, or maybe only vaguely, that the bulk of the ministry of deacons in the Catholic Church is spent in service to the larger community. For my wife and myself, this has taken the form of a special ministry in the area of mental health.

Several years ago one of our children was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Far from devastating, we all felt a deep sense of relief at finally having our years of struggle, chaos and turmoil given a name. In addition, there were now things that our child and ourselves could do to mitigate her challenges and professional treatments that she could access.

In spite of this, it became clear to my wife and I that, when it came to support for ourselves, as primary caregivers of a loved one with serious mental health challenges, there was very little on offer. When it came time in my formation as a deacon to being thinking about what ways Christ might be calling us to serve outside of parish ministry, it seemed natural that it would be in the area of mental health.

As we began speaking with others about our own experiences as caregivers, it became apparent that we were not alone. In fact, every single time we spoke about our struggles and the need we perceived for some sort of supports for caregivers we were invariably approached by others who found themselves in similar situations and who felt the need for the kind of ongoing support we envisioned.

Over the past several months we have been gathering together a collection of men and women from a variety of walks of life with one thing in common. All of us have found ourselves in the role of caregiver for family members or friends with mental health challenges.

The name “Emmaus Family Support” was chosen by this small ‘seed group’ to underscore the collaborative, mutually supportive nature of this new ministry and to recognize the often surprising presence of Christ whom we have, in different ways, discovered suddenly travelling at our side. At the same time, it highlights the reality we all have discovered, that without our core relationship with Jesus Christ as our primary support, we would have felt lost and overwhelmed long ago.

This site has been developed as a means of communicating resources and support materials for caregivers of family members and friends experiencing mental health difficulties and challenges. It is meant to be a place where faith, and the strength of our collective lived experiences can provide solace, compassion, and above-all, hope to others who find themselves in similar circumstances.

With any luck and a lot of grace, perhaps we’ll find strength, peace and hope together!

Peace and God Bless,

Deacon Eric

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s