From Darkness into Light………..
Back in 2006 the original Pieta House opened its doors in Lucan. Local woman Joan Freeman was imbued with a burning desire to reach out to those for whom despair was threatening their very lives. This was the first organisation of its kind to seek to engage directly with those struggling with suicidal ideation in a meaningful therapeutic way. The early days surprised everyone; hundreds of people came through the doors and the media began to take note. In the first few years of its existence thousands had come forward seeking help and the pressing need was all too obvious. Here was a free service offering a lifeline to those who all too often had suffered in silence and in many cases preventing tragedies where people sought to end their lives in deep despair. Countless cake sales, coffee mornings, dinner dances, raffles, hikes and all kinds of sponsored events were organised by a growing number of grateful family members and the money was found to grow and develop the service.
From its humble beginnings on a wing and a prayer Pieta House has gone from strength to strength and today some 240 qualified therapists working in fifteen centres spread around the country all work as part of Pieta. In addition, they provide a 24 hour helpline where those in crisis can find a listening ear.
Since the ignominious demise of the Console bereavement support agency, Pieta House have stepped in to the breach and have expanded their service to reach out to those too often crushed by the pain of coping with the suicide of a loved one. And if that wasn’t enough they now offer a ‘Resilience Academy’, a six-week course for secondary school students to promote positive mental health.
In 2009 a new fund-raising initiative took shape when 400 people walked in the Phoenix Park in the first ‘Darkness into Light’ walk. Last year some 200,000 people in 150 locations in 16 countries took part in the walk. Since its inception over €20 million euro has been raised and this has empowered the organisation to grow and develop its services. The Darkness into Light theme cleverly reflects the challenge of the therapeutic journey for those who come seeking help, a journey that has led many many people out of despair to a hopeful new future. This year’s walk will take place on Saturday May 11th and the nearest walk location for Lucan is the Phoenix Park. If you would like to be part of this year’s walk why not register on the website www.darknessintolight.ie.
You know the old adage ‘It’s better to light a candle than curse the dark.” Pieta House is a shining light offering support and hope and it all began in Lucan.
Fr. Philip Curran