Many thanks to Randy Hain and The Integrated Catholic Life along with Eileen Homire, our dedicated Atlanta friend, for coordinating the excellent interview below, with Archbishop Gregory.
In the secular world we frequently hear of drug and alcohol addiction affecting almost every segment of society. Nobody seems to be immune from this scourge. However, we don’t often hear about how addiction sometimes affects our Clergy and Religious. These men and women of the Church face pressures and stress that many of us seldom see or appreciate.
What happens if they become overwhelmed by these challenges and seek relief in alcohol or drugs?
How can we help them come to grips with their addictions, find healing and return to active ministry?
Looking for answers to these questions, I sought out an interview with Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Archbishop Gregory is hosting two educational workshops in his Archdiocese next month on April 1st (Spanish Track) and April 2nd (English Track) at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta, Georgia. Both tracks are open to parishioners, counselors, social workers and therapists interested in learning more. The workshops will include sessions on:
- Steps for Spiritual Living,
- Establishing a Parish Substance Abuse Ministry,
- Addiction and the Older Adult,
- Internet Addiction, and
- Addiction and Prevention for Older Youth.
Archbishop Gregory, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be interviewed for Integrated Catholic Life.
I would like to discuss a sensitive and often misunderstood subject: What happens to Catholic clergy and men and women religious who struggle with addiction problems? Can you help our readers understand the unique pressures and challenges which affect these men and women of the Church? Are there programs available to help them?
Clergy and Religious, like people everywhere sometimes find themselves captive to an addiction and they
go through all of the usual emotional and physical experiences of anger, denial, depression, rationalization, etc. What makes their situation unique is often the fact of their public character and responsibilities. There are some important resources that have developed that are specifically intended to assist Clergy and Religious in seeking and maintaining sobriety and healing from their addictions. Among the best known and widely respected resources are Guest House and its affiliate programs. Guest House was originally established to care for and to assist Clergy and Religious who are willing to confront and to admit their need for addiction intervention.
Archbishop, you mentioned Guest House in your previous answer. Many of our readers have likely not heard of this Catholic treatment center and the wonderful work it does. Can you elaborate further on the purpose of Guest House and how we can learn more about supporting their mission?
Guest House was established almost 60 years ago through the wise and generous collaboration of some professionals, laity, and clergy who recognized addiction as a treatable illness and who wanted to offer clergy and religious an opportunity to seek medical and clinical therapeutic help so that they might once again function in a healthy manner and return to the ministry of the Church as “wounded healers.” I urge you to view their website – guesthouse.org – for more background information. You might also speak with an alumnus of the program for more complete evidence of the success of their efforts at helping clergy and religious discover and maintain a life of sobriety and health.
Click this link to read more of this powerful interview:
Today we share this beautiful and inspiring downloadable filled with Lenten Reflections from Fr. George Hazler.
Jesus’ preaching and His miracles were the trumpets of a new era. They were the “signs” of a new day. Jesus healed the blind, but behind this miracle was a deeper meaning. It was a “sign” to all people to open their eyes to His works. Jesus opened the ears of the deaf. It, too, was a “sign” to all people to open their ears to His words. Jesus forgave sinners. Again, His forgiveness was a “sign” to all people to turn from sin and begin living new lives.
Jesus set in motion the “Kingdom of God.” And what was this kingdom? It was a new era in which love would replace indifference, light would replace darkness, and life would replace death. But the “Kingdom of Satan” would not yield to the “Kingdom of God” without a battle. It is this battle that we focus on during Lent.
Fast from bitterness;
Feast on kindness.
Fast from impatience;
Feast on calmness.
Fast from laziness;
Feast on diligence.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come, not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:vs17
How many times have we heard around the tables of AA that “I have worked the first three steps but cannot seem to get on with the rest of the steps.” Well, there is a similarity between this situation and those of people in Jesus’ time. The people sometimes complained that Jesus was circumventing the Mosaic law by His teaching and healings. He made it abundantly clear that He wasn’t disposing of their laws but rather was fulfilling them. On another occasion, Jesus said of some Scribes and Pharisees that they utter fine words, even wise words, but their hearts were far from God. (more…)
“Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest a while.” Mark 6:31
From our earliest years we have been taught and know intuitively that God is everywhere. But for me, there is a special place I go to every day where I can be alone with my God. It has become a wonderful sacred space where I can fully be myself and fully present to my God.
My guess is that others have a prayer space they have set apart for their interchange with their God. It does seem natural and it does seem a very necessary component in life, amid all the ups and downs of our journey. (more…)
The challenge presented to us today is found in the parable of the seed as found in Mark’s account of The Lord talking to a huge crowd gathered around Him as He sat in a boat on the water while the people remained on the shore nearby.
Jesus said: “Listen carefully to this. A farmer went out sowing. Some of what he sowed landed on the footpath where the birds came along and ate it. Some of the seed landed on rocky ground where it had little soil; it sprouted immediately because the soil had no depth. Then, when the sun rose and scorched it, it began to wither for lack of roots. Again, some landed among thorns, which grew up and choked it off, and there was no yield of grain. Some seed, finally, landed on good soil and yielded grain that sprang up to produce at a rate of thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” [Mark 4:3-9] (more…)
“Some people brought a paralytic to Jesus to be healed. Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ At once the man was healed.” Mark 2:5
What one of us, when in the throes of our alcoholic addiction, reached the dire point of wanting to be healed? How did we act? The following true story, not unlike many of our own stories, was given to me from a fellow Jesuit, Fr. Mark Link, S.J.
Harold Hughes described himself as “a drunk, a liar, and a cheat.” He was so convinced he’d never change that he decided to end it all. At the last moment, however, he remembered enough from the Bible to realize that to take one’s life is wrong. So he knelt down sobbing and explained to God why he was going to end it all. Suddenly, something happened that he never experienced before in his life.
He wrote later: “God was reaching down and touching me. Like a stricken child lost in a storm, I suddenly stumbled into the warm hands of my Father. Joy filled me, so intense it seemed to burst my breast.” Ten years later, Harold Hughes was elected governor of Iowa.
When did I, perhaps feel God “touching me?” Today would be a good day to reflect on this and give thanks to God for saving me. As we know, many alcoholics take their own life while others continue drinking, ensuring a slow suicide.
These thoughts offered by Brother Richard Hittle, S.J., a grateful 1980 graduate of Guest House and an employee since 2004.
Tied to Guest House’s bold moves to consolidate its U.S. Operations in the State of Michigan, and build new and upgraded treatment facilities in Lake Orion, MI, Guest House is restructuring its fund raising operations and preparing for a national fund raising campaign to fund construction and innovation.
All ongoing fund raising operations at Guest House will now be led by Erika H. Walker of Rochester Hills, MI formerly Director of Major and Planned Gifts at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation at the Detroit Medical Center.
Erika Walker is a senior-level fundraising executive with 16 years of non-profit experience managing capital campaigns, major and planned gifts, annual giving, grant development, donor communications, volunteer management, strategic planning, prospect management/strategy, stewardship, conference/event planning, and leadership of teams. She is experienced in the use of Talisma, the identical donor database in use at Guest House.
Former VP of Advancement and Outreach, Richard Kramer, is moving to the role of Senior Campaign Advisor within the Development Department to focus 100% of his attention on the upcoming ten million dollar “Vision 20/20” Capital Campaign which will supplement the three to four million dollars of annual fundraising achieved annually at Guest House in support of its clinical operations.
Please welcome Erika Walker to her new leadership role at Guest House.
On January 13, 2014, our Church began what is termed “Ordinary Time” in the Liturgical calendar. Most of us in recovery can or have done something extraordinary in ordinary time. We are sober, productive members of society, happy to be alive – giving glory to God and help to our neighbors.
Zane Grey, famous author of Western novels, practiced dentistry in New York before becoming a full-time writer. One of his earliest literary attempts was called Riders of the Purple Sage. After reviewing it, a New York publisher called it junk and told him to quit writing and stick with filling teeth. Grey took it to another publisher, who bought it and parlayed it into a million copies.
In similar scenarios, Louisa May Alcott, celebrated author of Little Women, led an early life of dire poverty. Actress Lucille Ball was paralyzed in a car accident and never expected to walk again. (more…)
“Immediately afterward he insisted that his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. When he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. As evening drew on, the boat was far out on the lake while he was alone on the land. Then, seeing them tossed about as they tried to row with the wind against them, he came walking toward them on the water; the time was between three and six in the morning. He meant to pass them by. When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and they began to cry out. They had all seen him and were terrified. He hastened to reassure them: Get hold of yourselves! It is I. Do not be afraid! He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were taken aback by these happenings.” Mark 6:45-51
In this incident that occurs in the Eucharistic readings for the week after the Feast of the Epiphany, we get at least two forceful lessons for us in recovery. One is the confusion and terror that comes to us when we are startled by reality. The followers of The Lord do what they know best, namely, take to the sea. They have this manner of acting just as we, by default, go naturally to drink. Then, as we witness in the story, the storm comes up and we become frightened. In our fright, we might even turn to prayer, such as, “God, get me out of this mess and I’ll follow You ever after!” How many times have we uttered such a prayer in a tight situation where danger lurks? (more…)