As Catholics the world over observe Lent with fasting, prayer, and self-denial, St. Mark’s College is hoping the faithful also keep the joy of Easter in mind.

“In Lent, I meditate on the Passion and I stake my life on the hope that there will be a better day,” said Lisa Rumpel, a Vancouver-based mental health advocate.

Rumpel will be one of several speakers at St. Mark’s College during “Fill Your Bowl With Hope,” a series of talks held over lunchtime every Wednesday this Lent. The college offers Mass at 12:10, followed by free homemade soup, buns, and presentations from local Catholics.

Rumpel, diagnosed with bipolar disorder during her first year of college, finds Lent an apt metaphor for those seeking hope amid the trials of living with mental illness.

“Sometimes when you have a mental illness, you feel like you’re on your way to Calvary. You don’t see an end to your despair. But we know how the story ends! There is a resurrection. God does beat death and sin. That always brings me hope.”

Rumpel, who will give the April 10 talk at St. Mark’s , says “God knows our pain. He knows what it’s like to suffer.”

For the season of Lent, she suggests those with mental illness “meditate on the Passion and the Way of the Cross. Journey with him and know that our hope is in the Resurrection.”

Also lined up to speak about hope at St. Mark’s is Yolanta Samus, a Surrey teacher and mom of two girls adopted from Ethiopia in 2013.

“The waiting process and uncertainty associated with an international adoption was very challenging, and all we had to cling to was the hope that a life with our future children was what God planned for us,” Samus said. “Now, the joy we have with them in our lives is beyond anything we could have ever hoped for.”

The Lenten lunch series at St. Mark’s begins March 6 with an address from its principal, Peter Meehan. Also set to speak during the series are Personality and Human Relations educator Leah Bittante (March 13), L’Arche members Annette Kuhn and Patrick Byron (March 20), Archbishop J. Michael Miller, (March 27) and Deacon Hilmar Pabel (April 3).

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