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CMI, NFMMC announce Seventh Annual Interfaith Community Prayer Service for Mental Illness Recovery & Understanding

by Christian Hoffman
Tue, Sep 26th 2017 03:00 pm

Community Missions, Inc. and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, a pair of prominent mental health service providers, will once again join together to host the 7th Annual Interfaith Community Prayer Service on Tuesday, October 3 at 3:30 p.m.

The event will take place at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 822 Cleveland Ave., Niagara Falls, and is part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, a national event designed to raise public awareness about mental illness and break down the stigma that too often discourages people from seeking help when needed.

Area leaders from various faith traditions will join mental health consumers, including those who participate in programs provided by Community Missions, their families and community members to seek guidance and help in replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and life in order to offer hope to those touched by mental illness.

Senator Robert Ortt and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, and a representative of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster are expected to speak at the prayer service along with the following:

  • Dr. Mohamed S. Ahmed, MD, PhD, P.C., of Masjid Tawba of Niagara Falls will offer prayers from the Muslim tradition. Dr. Ahmed is also Medical Director at Roswell Park Hematology-Oncology of Niagara;
  • Rev. Raymond Allen of Bethany Missionary Baptist Church and President of the Niagara Falls Ministerial Council;
  • Rabbi Ellen Franke of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls;
  • Pete Hill, Community & Cultural Services Director of the Native American Community Services of Erie "All Our Relations" Project Director at Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties, Inc. (NACS);
  • Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., President Emeritus, Niagara University;
  • Judy Maggs from St. James United Methodist Church, Niagara Falls—Service Music;
  • Rev. Marna Pritchard, Pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ;
  • Jonathan Sandberg from Calvary Episcopal Church, Williamsville, NY—Soloist;
  • Joyce Sconiers from Niagara Falls Memorial Wellness Center, God's Woman Vanessa Scott Outreach Ministries Sounds of Praise.

"This annual prayer service sets aside a moment to stop and reflect on both the misunderstanding that surrounds mental illness and embrace the reality that recovery is possible," said the Rev. Mark Breese, Agency Minister at Community Missions. "It is essential that, as a community, we stand with our neighbors who struggle with mental illness, as valued members of our community."

"This interfaith gathering presents a welcome opportunity for the entire community to join in support of neighbors, friends and family members who too often are misunderstood and unfairly stigmatized because they suffer from anxiety, depression or other forms of mental illness," said Memorial Medical Center President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.

One in five adults experience mental illness problems every year and 50 percent of chronic mental illness begins by age 14. Although many people today understand that mental illness is a medical condition, individuals and families affected by mental illness are still often subjected to stigma and discrimination.

This year's service will also feature for the first time a serenity fountain constructed by participants in Community Missions' Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program. "We wanted to have as many people as possible participate in presenting the service," said Rev. Breese. "This was a fun way for that to happen, and the fountain will help set a peace-filled tone in the sanctuary."

The service is open to the public, with light refreshments to follow. For more information, please contact Rev. Mark Breese at 285-3403, ext. 2259 or

Additional information about Mental Illness statistics can be found at and .



By The Numbers...

In 2023, Community Missions provided:

12,108 nights of shelter

178,696 meals

2,780 individuals with clothing

3,562 care days in Youth Services

43,388 care days in Recovery Services

72,302 care days in Housing Services

467 reflections & resources for Faith Development


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