Spiritual Hunger

Thanks for such a marvelous response to the appeal to attend Fr. Michael O’Connell’s honorary dinner, coming up in 3 weeks. We have about 100 seats remaining before we fill it out to max capacity. This months report repeats some of the material covered in the appeal, but I wanted to point out a mild success that involved knocking me off my high Catholic horse. With all the anonymity that has to come with the AA crowd and privacy compliance issues, it’s hard to measure actual results.
I’m on the Board of Directors of Trinity Sober Homes, a Catholic, Twin Cities based, not-for-profit, post treatment sober home for men over forty years old, fresh out of a formal drug and alcohol program. Founded by Fr. Marty Fleming around, “the centrality of the Jesus event” and designed to meet a dramatic shortfall in post treatment housing. There are over eighty formal treatment centers in the area that turn out over a thousand people each month, as they complete their thirty day programs. This is truly “ground zero” for homelessness in the nine county metro area. When asked by key facilitators what their faith base is or was, more than half say Catholic. Sadly, many of them have fallen away from the church and feel they wouldn’t be welcomed back. Our Trinity Sober Homes mantra is: The Catholic Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints”. One day at a time, one guy at a time, one prayer at a time and for me, one Rosary at a time, can make all the difference in anyone’s life.
A third of our populace at the two, soon to be three, Trinity Sober Homes properties are practicing Catholics. The rest are works in progress. The main requirement is that they believe in a higher power and that it’s not themselves. There is a waitlist to get in, as we turn away three to eight men each month, due to post treatment housing shortages. After an extensive interview process and discussion, we extend an agreement to bring them in under strict rules and guidelines. They are not required or pressured to be Catholic. Spiritual coaches are provided for each man, if they choose to meet with them, and chat at whatever spiritual level they are currently at or they could opt out altogether. No firehoses! No guilt! Because the residents average fifty three years old (35-75), many have been through the standard treatment system numerous times. Also because they average such a high age, they are tired of swimming against the current and ready for the Trinity structured environment.
We believe all people have varying degrees of “spiritual hunger” so we try to create opportunities for our men to grow at their own speed. I want to illustrate it with one man’s journey. He came to us “ready”, but spiritually empty, ten months ago. He moved into the St. Gabriel House (we name the homes after Archangels). A highly educated and creative video writer, director, producer, he never had a religion, but believed, after numerous trips through formal treatment programs over the years, there was probably a God and didn’t really know much more than that. There was lots of “push-back” on the idea of a spiritual coach and he declined the offer. Reluctantly, he later agreed to attend a one-on-one session with a coach, but warned not to get any hopes up for his lost soul. I really don’t know what was said or where he is currently at in his faith journey, but my perspective has changed. It’s my understanding that he’s hardly missed a meeting, since that first one with his spiritual councilor.
 “Reluctant admission”, was how it was conveyed to me by the committee, on how well he fits in after his original interview. “Crossed fingers” and hope that we were doing the right thing by extending an invite to move in, was also brought to mind. Wouldn’t it be easy if we only took recovering Catholics hungry for re-discovering their religion? “Evangelize and, if necessary, use words.”- Mother Theresa

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