Community Missions, NFMMC announce Sixth Annual Community Prayer Service for Mental Illness Recovery & Understanding

A pair of prominent mental health service providers are joining to support a day of recovery and understanding with an interfaith community prayer service on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m.

Community Missions and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will host the event at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 822 Cleveland Ave., Niagara Falls.  The service 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.

One in five adults experience mental illness problems every year and 50 percent of chronic mental illness begins by age 14.

“There is a great deal of misunderstanding and fear about mental illness,” said the Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister at Community Missions. “Many believe there is no hope for people with mental Illness. But there is hope and we need to give that hope to families, friends, and neighbors who struggle with mental illness.”

“This interfaith gathering gives our entire community an opportunity to show support for neighbors, friends and family members who are often unfairly stigmatized and misunderstood because they suffer from depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illness,” said Memorial Medical Center President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.

Joseph A. Ruffalo, President and CEO, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

Joseph A. Ruffalo, President and CEO, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

The service will include representatives from several faith traditions across the Niagara Region, including:

  • Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister and director of Ministry and Community Partnerships at Community Missions
  • Rev. Marna Pritchard, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ
  • Judy Maggs from St. James United Methodist Church, Niagara Falls, service music
  • Joyce Sconiers, of Memorial’s Niagara Wellness Connection Center, who also will be presenting music with God’s Woman Outreach Ministries
  • Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president emeritus, Niagara University
  • MaryJo Santilla of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls
  • Pete Hill, director of the All Our Relations project at Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara County (NACS)
  • Rev. Raymond Allen, pastor of Bethany Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Niagara Ministerial Council
Rev. Mark Breese of Community Missions

Rev. Mark Breese of Community Missions

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

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