April 18, 2023 // FEATURE

What Is Catholic in Recovery, and What Might a Catholic “In Recovery” Look Like?

By Cathy M.

As a Catholic, have you ever wondered what it might be like in purgatory? I might envision it as a period where time stands still and God asks me to look at what could have been. It’s not an intentionally brutal punishment. The process of cleansing and purifying my soul could begin with a movie reel featuring my unhealthy, free-will choices and the effect they have had on my life and others.

It would then be followed by a binge watching of what God and I might have accomplished together. A life where I hadn’t been so proud, so secretive, so determined to fix everything myself. I would watch episode after episode of a life where I stopped blaming the people in my past or present and intentionally walked with God to become all I was created to be.

My human pride, manifested in all of the unhealthy choices I make outside of God’s will, could be the measure of my sins. But do I have to wait to experience the fullness of life God has designed for me? Catholic in Recovery (CIR) offers us new direction and promises we need never be alone on our journey. In fact, this new journey is exactly what a Catholic “in recovery” looks like.

In recovery rooms, there is an undeniable power when one person shares their story of hope with another who feels hopeless. It’s hard to fathom until you experience it firsthand.

Addiction can be a puzzling term. Most commonly, it is connected with the life-threatening physical and mental obsession for alcohol and drugs. It is important to note that many other addictions are far more common than we may want to acknowledge. They are often masked by denial, secrecy, or even vincible ignorance. By broader definition, addiction is “an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.”

Catholic in Recovery is a nonprofit organization less than 10 years old. It seeks to serve those suffering from addictions, compulsions, and unhealthy attachments. Who is welcome? Anyone dealing with alcoholism, drug addiction, codependency and the impact on family, general fear, control, anxiety, pornography addiction, technology addiction, sex and relationship addiction, compulsive overeating and food addictions, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, and more.

If the broader definition of addiction and the above list stir up any awareness or conviction, it is a good thing. In recovery, the 12-step solution always takes us to a far better place. Addiction of any kind will separate us from God in our isolation or strengthen our faith when we ask for help.

John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Catholic In Recovery has found its way to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and we are humbled to witness God’s tender and intentional guidance as it takes root. CIR’s founder, Scott Weeman, started a personal blog entitled Catholic in Recovery in his early years of sobriety. He used it as a means to voice the importance of his 12-step recovery and how he saw it weaving together beautifully with his Catholic faith.

Scott felt the first 3 steps correlated with the Sacrament of Baptism, steps 4-9 with our Sacrament of Reconciliation. Steps 10-12 mirrored the Sacrament of Confirmation and our lifetime call to evangelize and carry the message of Good News. Years later he wrote the book, “The Twelve Steps and the Sacraments, A Catholic Journey Through Recovery.”

Early on, one invitation to speak led Scott to other avenues for spreading the word and as a result, Catholic in Recovery meetings began to spring up across the states. First starting in January of 2017 in San Diego, these meetings now span 25 states and several countries.

Virtual meetings of all types are available daily at catholicinrecovery.com.

Perhaps God’s plan is to lovingly reach the many in our Catholic communities who are wounded and scarred by addictions, compulsions, and unhealthy attachments. Those who have not found a working solution. Good people trading the connection and hope found in programs like CIR for the empty promise that tomorrow will somehow be different. CIR also gives fellow Catholics who have found recovery an opportunity to encourage another’s healing process to begin. God is so good, and Catholic In Recovery is a very applicable, life-changing byproduct of that goodness.

Through a series of blessings, Fort Wayne started its first CIR meeting in September of 2022. The hour-long meeting takes place Mondays at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Good Hope. A second meeting recently started on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Redeemer Radio. A third meeting will begin on Monday, June 5, at St. Pius X in Granger. While we have Bishop Rhoades’ blessing and continue to ask God’s guidance, there are no people or places in charge.

Recovery volunteers have gotten the program off the ground and gracious facilities
have offered meeting rooms. Each meeting rotates a chairperson, and a three-page reflection on the Sunday readings guides our recovery discussion. Anonymity is greatly valued and mutually respected.

In recovery rooms, there is an undeniable power when one person shares their story of hope with another who feels hopeless. It’s hard to fathom until you experience it firsthand. Catholic In Recovery meetings offer an environment for people to talk about their challenges while tying in the solutions offered by God’s love, the sacraments, and our Catholic faith.

Meetings are a warm and welcoming environment where the strength of our Catholic faith is joined with 12-step principles to enhance the healing process. Fort Wayne has started CIR with General Recovery meetings. They welcome all who may be affected by the struggles mentioned. If anything you’ve read resonates with you, know that you are not alone. CIR offers a place to feel connected without judgment or expectation, connected to a new and indescribable hope.

We would love to meet you and share in your journey of hope. God willing, CIR will continue to expand in our diocese as we share both our struggles and victories with each other. Please keep this ministry in your daily prayers and share this article as the Holy Spirit may prompt.

For further information and endless resources, visit catholicinrecovery.com. For specific questions about CIR in our area, email [email protected].

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