During the past week I had a most faith filled and uplifting experience, I spent this time with the Cenacolo Community in Medjugore. This is a community that facilitates the very deep and emotional hurt, as a result of drug and alcohol addiction.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Carlow Nationalist.
This column appeared on 25 July 2008

During the past week I had a most faith filled and uplifting experience, I spent this time with the Cenacolo Community in Medjugore. This is a community that facilitates the very deep and emotional hurt, as a result of drug and alcohol addiction. This community now lives in many Countries throughout Europe and the United States and includes a place in Knock, Co. Mayo.

The Cenacolo community was founded by a charismatic and deeply compassionate Italian religious, called Sr. Elvera. She had experienced the depth of poverty that is a direct consequence to addiction from harmful substances. Poverty not just in the material sense, but in a more destructive poverty of spirit. Any addict is poor in spirit; nobody wakes up in the morning and willingly craves for alcohol or harmful drugs. Addiction is a craving for an inner hunger that is so difficult to be fulfilled or satisfied, drink, drugs, gambling all may numb and quench, but only in a very temporary way.

The Cenacolo community places Jesus, our Lord and Savior, at the very heart and center of all who live there. The community in a spirit of friendship and love carry each other, in the search to find that sacred place within us all, to be satisfied to be fulfilled and truly live. Prayer is the place where the individual achieves inner healing and because of this a real sense of conversion takes place during the process of healing. The community mainly consists of young people, often it is the last hope, and many have been homeless, suicidal, imprisoned by lives of crime and fear. Witnessing and listening to their stories was a privilege, an encounter into the power of the Holy Spirit and how Christs love can heal even the most broken and wounded in all our community.

The only medication used in the process of recovery, is prayer, friendship and hard work. The process is a life journey and most young people live in the community for two years. The results are remarkable, success because the lives who make this painful journey, are transformed into bright, joyful and contented people who share in their hearts the joy of the Risen Lord.

Addiction is very hard to escape from. Our communities are crippled by its devastating reality. The power of prayer and the presence of such grace filled places bring light to those deeply hurt and wounded by such circumstance. A young man recently sent me a copy of a poem he wrote as he lives with addiction in his life.

The Storm

I have come in from the storm, but I am afraid of what might be. For I have been here before, but still ventured back to sea.

I live in hope of what can be, and look forward to the day that I can break free. From the madness and sadness and depression that is in me.

I walk a thin line of hope and despair, but hold on to the love of those who care. For sometimes I am sure it is hard to see, where is the real me.

I believe in God and all that he is, and hope someday he will count me as his. For you have to have hope to carry on, on a journey that is sometimes short and sometimes long.