A former Catholic Church executive has been appointed to help oversee the creation of a new centre to help the Catholic Church improve its spiritual health.
The new centre is expected to be launched in July.
The centre will focus on “spiritual well-being, social justice and empowerment”, and be dedicated to the care of individuals who have suffered from depression, anxiety, trauma, bereavement or other mental health issues.
Its director will be Sister Maria della Gabbana, who has been a chaplain at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Dublin.
Sister Maria said she was honoured to be appointed by the Diocese of Dublin.
She said the centre would aim to provide support to people who are experiencing difficulties with their spiritual health, with a particular focus on those who have experienced “disordered behaviours, trauma or abuse”.
She said her role will be to work with the diocese to ensure that all of its children and families were receiving support and assistance.
Sisters Della and Maria will begin work in April and are expected to start work by August.
Srs Maria is the daughter of a Catholic priest and the granddaughter of the founder of the St Patrick`s Church.
She grew up in rural Ireland and went on to study philosophy at the University of Dublin and was awarded the Queen’s Scholarship.
She went on a research fellowship at the US Catholic University in Washington DC and has a PhD in spirituality from the Catholic University of America.
Sr Maria said her work with children had made her feel “uncomfortable” but had also taught her that “the power of spiritual love transcends race, religion and gender”.
“I think that there are so many ways of looking at the world that have been taken from us.
It is about giving people the chance to be happy and beautiful, to be themselves,” she said.”
The only way that we can truly heal ourselves is by taking our journey with others and allowing them to know what it is that they need to do, to help them be their best selves.”
Srs Della said she felt that she was being left out of the healing process and the decision to hire her was the “right one”.
Sr Della also revealed that she and her husband were the only two people in her family who had ever experienced “depression”.
“When I was younger, my mum and dad didn’t know how to cope with it,” she added.
“They were not the same people as they are now, and they are in their 50s and 60s, and that has meant that they have had to grow up and take on their own responsibilities.”
That’s a huge responsibility to bear.
They are very responsible people and that’s a responsibility that I’ve been able to carry on.
“It is a responsibility I feel really blessed to be able to do.”
Sr Molloy said her focus would be to “help people with depression and anxiety, and people with other mental illnesses, and to support them with recovery”.
“If you are in a vulnerable position, if you are dealing with trauma or something traumatic, that is something you have to deal with, and you need to recover,” she told RTÉ.
“If I could help you recover, then that would be wonderful.”
Sister Marie also revealed she had been the spiritual adviser to the Bishop of Dublin, and said she had recently completed a year-long course on spiritual healing, with the aim of “reopening the spiritual wounds of the past”.
She added that she had “great hope” that her work would help “change the way the Church looks at mental health”.
She told RTE that she hoped her work “will help change the Church’s attitude towards mental health and the way they look at people”.
“My goal is to open up the doors of spiritual healing for the entire Church,” she continued.
“I hope that my work will change the way that the Church is viewed.”
Sisters della and della gabbana will be joined by the Rev. Richard Ryan, a retired priest and a member of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Centre for Healing, who is also the co-founder of the Church-based charity Centre for Mind and Healing.
“We want to help people in crisis and to help those who need it,” said Rev. Ryan.
“I am honoured to help.”
The centre has been set up in partnership with the Catholic Health Services and the Catholic Diocese’s Spiritual Life and Wellbeing Trust.SRS Maria said it was a “great honour” to be invited to work at the centre, and would look forward to working with people.
Srd Marie said the experience had given her “a lot of inspiration”.
“It has taught me how to give and how to care for others,” she concluded.
“And I have learnt to love my work.”