Thursday, April 12, 2012

Goings On

A few things going on in and around St. Michael Friary.

Learning about alcoholism, addiction, co-dependency, and the spirituality of recovery with two Capuchin friars: Fr. Michael Connolly, a licensed social worker and alcohol and substance abuse counselor; and Bro. John Koelle, the treasurer of the province. I have not studied alcoholism and alcohol abuse since my high school health class and driver's education. I am glad that we are. It's a necessary component of our development as pastoral ministers. It is inevitable that we will encounter persons struggling with alcoholism in our ministry; about one out of every ten Americans are alcoholic, and one out of every four Americans are affected by someone who is struggling with alcoholism. We who are in religious life are no different from the rest of humanity; sooner or later, we will encounter in our own communities friars who are dealing with addiction. Currently we are studying the disease model of alcoholism and its progressive effects on spiritual, emotional, and physical health. We are also learning about Alcoholics Anonymous and its program of twelve-step spirituality, which evolved from a Christian movement called the Oxford Group.

After class, I'll be making a guest bedroom ready, changing the sheets and putting out a fresh set of towels. A dear friend is coming down from Massachusetts this evening and staying until Saturday! She is a candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church. The two of us studied theology together at Boston University. You can read her blog, containing "Methodist musings on life and faith," here. I look forward to welcoming her to the friary and introducing her to the brothers. And I am eager to see what kind of ecumenical exchanges take place around the dinner table as we share the fruits of our common Christian discipleship in their Catholic and Methodist varieties.

This afternoon at Neighbors Together I will be helping our members make phone calls to Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, exhorting them not to allow Congress to pass a budget bill that eviscerates the federal food stamp program. The House recently approved a budget bill that would end the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as we know it by slashing its funding by billions of dollars and converting it from an entitlement program into a block grant program with severe and inflexible funding caps and the delegation of benefit-granting authority to the states. For an explanation of why this legislative move is unconscionable, read this analysis by Bread for the World.

Now, off to class, and to submit the peer evaluations to my postulant brothers.

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