Timothy Duff, STM, MA Cert. RCHL- ERD and BCC
Co-Founder/ Guardian President Guild of St. Benedict Joseph Labre
As a young chaplain in 2001, I was completing my training at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, Connecticut. Soon after, the 911 tragedy occurred. I was assigned to support patients from New York City and who were directly impacted by the disaster: either they had been in NYC or had lost a loved one from the tragedy at Ground Zero. This began my ministry journey and led me to become a staff chaplain, Director of Spiritual Care, Bereavement Coordinator, Pastoral Mentor and Educator in several healthcare settings.
I have also worked as a mental health family specialist, assigned to those families who had a loved one on hospice while having someone with mental illness in the family. My life experience has empowered me to work on both inpatient psychiatric care units and in the community offering spiritual support groups.
The inspiration to establish the Guild of St. Benedict Joseph Labre came to me when I was enrolled in the seminary. One night, in a holy hour, my life experiences about my family and my oldest brother Scott, in particular, flashed before me all at once and I felt in my heart God was telling me to do something to help those with mental illness. (You can read our story on this site.) I told God there was only one man who would understand what I wanted to do and that was (the late) Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, FFR. The next morning, at breakfast with my fellow seminarians, we were told that Fr. Groeschel was coming to our seminary to host a retreat. Yes, God surprises us! My twenty-year friendship with Father Groeschel would bring me many gifts of holiness and many answers to prayers, particularly for my brother Scott. We would meet at least three times a year over that time to discuss and receive guidance about this Apostolate. For more information about Fr. Benedict Groeschel see: http://franciscanfriars.com/father-benedict/. Over the years since 1996 when the Guild was founded, many travels and pilgrimages took place the Guild. Someday I hope to publish stories of our travels.
While most of you know about my oldest brother Scott, whose life and cause brought about this Guild, there is much more to my family's story. I am the youngest of six children, with three other siblings who struggle with one or another diagnosis of mental illness, ranging from Schizophrenia, to Schizo-Affective Disorder, Mood Disorders, PTSD, Depression, and Psychosis. Through God's grace and mercy, I have kept well all of my life, but I have made my life's mission to assist my siblings in every way possible. This includes daily contact, escorting them to medical appointments, ordering food and clothing for them, and loving them deeply. It is because of their struggles I wish to support others and remain grateful for the gifts that God has given me.
While I was convinced my destiny was to serve Our Lord as a priest, Providence had other plans! I am happily married to my wife Theresa, and just recently, we adopted our two beautiful daughters. God is Good!
- Director of Spiritual Care and Coordinator of Spiritual Services
- BCC - Board Certified Chaplain - in the National Association (NACC)
- ERD - Certified in the Ethical and Religious Directives of Catholic Healthcare (National Catholic Bioethics Center)
- Pastoral Educator in the Archdiocese of Boston for grief and bereavement
- Bereavement Coordinator for Hospice
- Hospice and Palliative care Support
- Spiritual Specialist for both Inpatient and Community psychiatric
- Pastoral Mentor for seminarians and pastoral visitors
- Chaplain for Disaster Relief and Support
Training and Education
- Master's Certificate in Catholic Healthcare Leadership (on-line program) - St. Joseph's College, Standish, ME
- Year-Long study in the Ethical and Religious Directives in Catholic Healthcare- National Catholic Bioethics Center, Philadelphia, PA
- Year-long Residency in Clinical Pastoral Educator (CPE)
- STM- Sacred Theology Masters- Holy Apostles Seminary
Marianne Komek became aware of what it’s like to live with someone who is mentally ill when her mother, Virginia, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. There were many times when Virginia was absent from her life because of hospitalizations for depression or manic episodes. It was devastating to the child, her two brothers, and her father.
Then a miracle occurred. Virginia found a new psychiatrist who started her on a regimen of lithium. The roller-coaster ride of manic highs and depressive lows came to an end. Her mother was able to care for her children and later when they were older, she became a secretary in the local hospital, working with medical charts and doctors and nurses. She thrived in this atmosphere.
At sixteen-years-old, Marianne excelled academically, was the editor of her high school newspaper, and had just been inducted into the National Honor Society. Everything crashed around her when she experienced depression. Later, she was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder but denied it because of its stigma. Finally, she accepted her diagnosis and was treated for it. She was able to come “off the roller coaster” and live a normal life.
Marianne wants to combat the stigma that surrounds the disease. She has done this by reaching out to friends and cousins with the illness, encouraging them not to be ashamed and to seek medical assistance. She has written a Catholic novel about a teenage girl who has bipolar disorder, Promises to Theresa, which was recently released and is available on Amazon. Marianne wishes, through fiction, to offer a sympathetic portrait of a family’ s struggle to cope with mental illness with courage and faith in God. She is a journalist who would like to publicize the work of the Guild of St. Benedict Joseph Labre to help the mentally ill and overcome the stigma. She especially likes the fact that it is a spiritual apostolate with 40-hour adorers. Marianne has found the strength to cope with her illness by her faith in Jesus and love for the Blessed Sacrament. She is a daily communicant and is an active member of her parish, serving on several committees and is a Rosarian. Marianne is also a consecrated member of the international Marian Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt.
She studied psychology in college and has read books on the topic such as cognitive therapy, codependence, and Carl Jung’s work, but has not had formal training in psychological methods. However, she is living proof of how good psychiatric care and the love and support of family and friends can help many mentally ill people to live a good life and contribute to society. She has been married to her supportive husband, Cabbar, a professional photographer, and media artist, for thirty-three years.
- Freelance Catholic Journalist: Articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, the Catholic News Service, and The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper for the diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey.
- Perth Amboy, New Jersey Adult School: English as a Second Language (ESL) substitute instructor
- Essex County College, Newark; New Jersey: Remedial English Grammar and Writing Skills Tutor
- Human Sciences Press; New York City: Production Editor
- The CPA Journal; New York City: Editorial Assistant
- The College of New Jersey; Ewingville; New Jersey: Bachelor of Arts in English Literature
- The Institute of Paralegal Studies; Rahway, New Jersey: Paralegal Certification
We are currently searching for Advisory Committee Members
We are looking for at least two individuals
Who are we looking for?
Currently looking for a Catholic Priest or Consecrated Religious who will offer spiritual direction to the board members
Currently looking for someone who has a background in psychology from the Roman Catholic perspective.
Here are some qualifications
A Catholic who is in good standing with the Catholic Church
He/ She must desire to remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church
Must have some connection with mental illness/ And hold a desire to help and advocate for them.
Must have a desire to follow the spirit and charism of the Founders
This is done by trying to live out our Mission and Values in their daily lives.
Must have a desire to learn about St. Benedict Joseph Labre and desire to live his spirituality.
What to do if you are interested or know someone who may?
Contact Timothy Duff via email or call his cell phone.
Timothy's Cell Phone: 617-412-0691