Sunday May 07, 2017

Sick Pilgrim blog: home to those the Church left out

Listen 31:50
Sick Pilgrim

Sick Pilgrim co-founders: Jessica Mesman Griffith and Jonathan Ryan

Sick Pilgrim is a blog that describes itself as "a field hospital for wayfaring souls." It's an online resource for people who don't feel comfortable in a church community for whatever reason, but who still long for spiritual community.

The co-founders Jessica Mesman Griffith and Jonathan Ryan are both Catholic, but the blog is for anyone interested in a playful yet deep discussion of spirituality. 

Sick Pilgrim meme

An example of the sort of playful humour Sick Pilgrim uses in their approach to religion.

As the mother of an autistic child, Griffith felt the sting of isolation whenever she had to drag her screaming daughter out of mass... and no one ever checked to see if she was OK or invited her back in.

"If your child is misbehaving in church, even at (age) four, there can be this feeling that you are somehow failing as a mother, or failing to educate your child properly, or failing to discipline her properly. There was just this constant feeling that I wasn't doing something right. And then I really began to feel unwelcome. She just really couldn't be in a mass setting, and therefore I couldn't be in a mass setting."

Sick Pilgrim meme 4

In addition to dealing with her (then undiagnosed) child, Mesman Griffith was also fighting mental illness - which further alienated her from her church's community. When she was 13 years old, Mesman Griffith lost her mother; this trauma set off a life-long struggle with depression, which she found difficult to communicate.   

Sick Pilgrim meme 2

"Conversations about mental illness would often lead to conversations about deficiencies in one's faith.  Where maybe you weren't praying enough, or the right away. Or maybe you were sinning too much. Or maybe if you just worked a little harder to have a personal relationship with Jesus this would all go away."

The Sick Pilgrim blog is a response to her experiences and her desire to keep Catholicism in her life. It's a place where people can have frank discussions about any struggle they may be facing.

"I feel we're providing a liminal space for people to come and enjoy and raid the church for treasure. This is your church too, you don't have to give it up. You can come here and experience the things you love about it and we can talk about the things that trouble you."

Click LISTEN to hear Jessica Mesman Griffith's interview with Mary Hynes.