On October 13th, 2021, the Center for Disease Control announced that during the 12-month period ending in March 2021, the number of deaths from drug overdoses reached a staggering number of 96, 779, more than 30% more than the previous year.
This unprecedented acceleration in deaths can be attributed to the forced isolation and lockdowns experienced during the global pandemic, where individuals were kept away from the fellowships and support groups who had proven so life sustaining to them in their fragile recovery. During this time, where so much funding has been reallocated from mental health and substance use disorder programs to COVID related needs, the iTHIRST Initiative, a Mission of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, saw an opportunity to empower the Church to be a resource for those suffering from addictions and their families, by providing the grace and spiritual healing required for a person’s true wellness.
The iTHIRST Initiative uses a three pillared approach providing education and prevention programs, programs of support for those in treatment and incarcerated, and after care and community building programs, for those suffering and their families.
Our iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship training, part of our education and prevention pillar, provides 48 hours of academically certified instruction, and 4.8 Continuing Education Units, through our partnership with Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. This training prepares participants to return to their respective parishes and communities to provide spiritual consolation and recovery resource information to those in need, while establishing multifaceted recovery ministries in their home parishes. The program has been offered in the Archdiocese of Boston, MA, the Diocese of Camden, NJ, and in partnership with Catholic Extension, has reached the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM, the Diocese of Cheyenne, WY, and Youngstown, OH. This virtual training has welcomed individual students from all parts of the US and internationally as well.
Our program, designed to reach those incarcerated and in treatment, has seen the creation of various virtual group “spirituality sessions” and individual counseling services for those in treatment. More than 400 men and women were provided with these services throughout the pandemic and beyond. Also, many direct service projects saw the collections of clothing and toiletries to be given to people at four different treatment facilities throughout the year.
Our third pillar of aftercare and community building has witnessed the creation of many retreat programs, recovery masses, recovery Bible studies and the creation of sober living communities throughout areas from Boston to Santa Fe, wherever our trained iTHIRST Spiritual Companions were able to bring their considerable expertise and knowledge back to the communities.
None of this is possible without the generous support of donors like you. Truly, your support is a light in the darkness of so many who suffer, and their families, who are on the brink of despair. We humbly ask for your assistance in supporting the mission of the iTHIRST Initiative. You can do so through monetary gifts, taking time to volunteer or lending spiritual support through prayer and sacrifice. We are profoundly grateful to you for supporting our mission in whatever way you feel called, and we will be sure to include you in our prayers. No family, no community is immune to the devastation of the disease of addiction. Thank you for reaching out to those who have been so vulnerable and marginalized for so long!
May God bless you abundantly for your generosity!