Guest House recently had the honor of some special guests on campus. In November, three of our alumni came to Guest House from three “corners” of the US – California, Maine and Alabama – for their own group-planned, five-day retreat. These three men walked with one another through treatment in 2015. Recalling their time in treatment, they all agreed, “We formed a special bond – we really connected!” This bond led them to also support each other through the continuing care program. One priest expressed, “We went through continuing care phases two and three together and realized how much we truly enjoy one another’s company.” Their commitment to the bond they share brings them fulfillment as they maintain regular contact though they are miles apart. It is their intention to meet annually, and with their continuing care program complete, they were responsible for developing a plan.
Their first plan was what happened last month – a return to Guest House for a 2018 retreat, and they were pleased to acknowledge they had the support of their bishops. One of the other priests said, “It feels like home here,” and they all nodded. What joy they brought to campus! They were all smiles throughout the week. Every staff member they encountered was delighted to meet them or see them again. They had the opportunity to re-connect with their counselors who were eager to hear about the progress of their journeys. What hope they offered the clients in treatment! They found reward in sitting with clients (some who had just arrived on campus) because the alumni could see in others the struggles they, themselves, once had. They remembered and shared, and it allowed them to bring light into someone’s darkness – a little bit like the circle of life. The third priest in the group reflected, “We can see the value of everything when it is said and done. Maybe by sharing this clarity of the treatment process, we can help someone else.”
There is a fourth member of their group in a more distant location, so they have already scheduled their 2019 retreat in New York to afford all of them the opportunity to attend. These alumni are more than a group of friends – they are a family – and part of the greater Guest House family!
At Guest House anyone who completes one of our treatment programs may become part of the alumni group. We are proud of our extended yet close-knit community of alumni. They live all over the world, and many (as evidenced in this story) relish opportunities to connect/re-connect with fellow alumni via telephone, email, personal visits and retreats, and Guest House events. “Our alumni are the heart of Guest House. They are witnesses to our ministry and ambassadors of our mission,” remarks Jeff Henrich, Guest House president and chief executive officer. Please note, our alumni events are open to all clergy and religious in recovery from Guest House and elsewhere.
When we share information with Church leadership regarding the Guest House program, we provide details, clinical best practices and research findings, but the most powerful message is our alumni returning to ministry. We offer the finest program possible, and the results speak for themselves. Our alumni are doing meaningful work in their ministries, supporting one another and many others.
In October, we welcomed an alumnus from Australia who wanted to return to “where his recovery began” to celebrate his 25th year of sobriety! There was much gratitude expressed during this visit – his gratitude for Guest House and our gratitude for him and all our alumni. We always welcome our alumni to visit for retreat – individually or in a group – and we hope that by sharing these stories, others will be encouraged to give it a try.
Written by Guest House Staff Writer