BRUNSWICK — Faith formation leaders at All Saints Parish in Brunswick were looking to provide children with a tangible way of putting their faith into practice and an understanding of the importance of mercy and compassion. The Healing Bear Ministry is successfully accomplishing all of that and so much more.
“Children can give a ‘healing bear’ to those who are seriously ill, reminding them of God’s infinite mercy, boundless love, and the importance of offering caring compassion for the very sick,” said Amy Ford, faith formation coordinator at churches in Brunswick, Bath, and Richmond.
The cuddly teddy bears are donated by members of the community, and children are invited to send one to any person they know to be ill and in need, regardless of whether the person is Catholic or even from Maine.
The bears “sit” ready to provide warmth at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Brunswick, St. Mary Church in Bath, St. Patrick Church in Newcastle, and St. Katherine Drexel Church in Harpswell during the summer. There is no cost to have a healing bear sent to someone in need of a lift.
“When we receive a donation of a teddy bear, the bear is blessed and receives a neck tag that indicates the bear is a ‘healing bear.’ There is also a special card that accompanies it when given to a recipient,” said Amy.
The names of those who receive a bear are written in a special book, transferred to the parish’s book of intercessions, and prayed for by the parish community which asks for comfort and healing for recipients.
The donations of teddy bears come from all corners, and community members even utilize their own special skills to help the cause.
“Kind-hearted parishioners actually sew some, others donate money or newly purchased cuddly bears. From time to time, when the demand exceeds the supply, an announcement will be placed in the bulletin to let parishioners know that there is a need for more bears and to ask for help,” said Amy.
Those who make a donation to the ministry even receive a personalized thank you card from the parish acknowledging and appreciating the generosity.
The cycle of kindness spun by the simple presence of the teddy bear and all the care behind it has warmed the hearts of givers and receivers.
“The sick people who have been receiving these bears, young and old, are deeply grateful for all the prayers and support,” said Amy. “It’s beautiful.”
If you are able to assist, either with a monetary donation or bears themselves, please contact Amy Ford at 207-725-2624 or Amy.Ford@portlanddiocese.org. A monetary donation can also be made by putting the donation in an envelope marked “Healing Bear Ministry” and placing it in any collection basket in the churches of All Saints Parish (www.allsaintsmaine.com).