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New initiative seeks to comfort those who’ve lost a loved one to suicide

Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock

Lindsay Schlegel - published on 06/09/21

Marc with Hope spreads the message of the Church's teaching of mercy after suicide with a care package for families.

Catholic theology does not shy away from the redemptive possibilities of suffering and death. And yet, even among the faithful, suicide is often spoken about in whispers. Maria Cecilia Escobedo, creator of No One Dies Alone and founder of the new initiative Marc with Hope, seeks to change that by spreading “the message of the Church’s teaching of mercy after suicide with a care package to bring families who have lost someone hope and healing.” 

The Marc in the initiative’s name is Marc Massery, who began working with the Marian Helpers Center in 2017. His work included the Discovering the Diaryvideos, weekly Scripture meditations, and contributions to Marian Helper magazine.

Maria met Marc through their shared appreciation for the profound effect of God’s mercy on a soul. He contacted her after reading a report on Maria’s ministry to increase praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Through a series of phone calls and email exchanges, Marc learned about Maria’s 2016 experience with a Door of Mercy, which Maria says resulted in “a beautiful story on my journey of holiness through wellness.” That article was published on the same day the cause of Marc’s death was made public. 

Maria remembers Marc as encouraging, compassionate, and generous. She says, “He had a gift of writing out God’s mercy for us in ways that forever impact a soul.” In being the inspiration for Marc with Hope, “he is still spreading the message of God’s mercy to those who are suffering.”

The message of God’s mercy can be tough to share with those mourning loved ones lost to suicide. Marc with Hope exists to offer resources to grieving families and friends. Each care package includes a copy of After Suicide: There’s Hope for Them and for Youby Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, and Jason Lewis, MIC; a pamphlet on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet; a Divine Mercy Rosary; a suicide prayer card; a No One Dies Alone image; and a Mass intention in the name of the soul that passed away.

Maria explains that care packages can be ordered for personal use, to be sent to a family member or a friend, or even to a stranger in need of the message of mercy. She encourages parishes to get involved by ordering packages to have on hand to give to parishioners or to recommend to others as a resource. There are also options to invite a speaker from Marc with Hope into any group setting. Clergy and lay people alike can share information on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet—a simple, but powerful act of mercy for those who are suffering.

In a piece on Marc’s passing on the Divine Mercy website, Chris Sparks, senior book editor for the Marian Fathers, writes, “For those grieving someone who has died by suicide, please know that there’s hope for their salvation, since even though suicide is a gravely wrong act, a failure of rightful self-love, and brings terrible harm on all those it leaves behind, suicide is also rarely the act of someone with full freedom of the will or full knowledge of the gravity or the consequences of the act.” Such was the case with Marc, who suffered with chronic Lyme disease for years.

Maria describes Marc as a “gentle soul” who, though she only knew him for a short time “had an impact on my life.” Through this new initiative, she hopes that impact will ripple out to those in need for many years to come. 

Tags:
Mental Health
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