PROVIDENCE — The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) may be stressful for people, but for those struggling with addiction and recovery, fear and anxiety about their disease can be overwhelming. In this time of increased isolation, the diocesan St. Matthias Recovery Ministry wants those working through drug and alcohol addiction to know that they don’t have to walk this road alone.
The ministry began in the Diocese of Providence in 2009 to serve individuals and families impacted by addiction. Peter Magnotta, Licensed Social Worker (MSW), LICSW, for the Office of Life and Family, shared that the diocese knew the benefits faith-based support could provide to individuals, families and parishes.
“Many people seek our support, struggling with shame, guilt, questions about their relationship with God and the Church and questions about how to be free of addiction and how to make good choices. They are asking for love, dignity, purpose and hope, in which we show them God’s boundless love.”
St. Matthias ministry provides information and referrals for treatment and support, as well as one-on-one support. Monthly Masses and a Hope and Cope group are designed for fellowship and to be strengthened spiritually.
Magnotta shared that the spiritual dimension of the ministry has really flourished following the assignment of Deacon John Silvia, Ph.D., in 2013.
“Deacon John has provided thousands of special blessings, spearheaded the establishment of Masses for those in recovery, also serving and providing homilies incorporating recovery and its spiritual context of hope and God’s love, as well as being a Catholic presence in the community and with outside agencies.”
Deacon Silvia knows how important this ministry is to the community – especially now.
“This ministry is critical to everyone in our community. We are already battling an epidemic of opioid and other substance use related overdose and death. When we couple this with the social distancing, an extreme pressure overshadows an already stressed group of our brothers and sisters. Many of us are able to resist the temptation of using substances with social support and contacts and Recovery Meetings. But, in these times the isolation can exacerbate the temptations.”
Unfortunately, during these difficult times of mandated social distancing due to COVID-19 and restrictions from gatherings, St. Matthias Ministry has had to suspend all of their current scheduled activities for the time being.
Deacon Silvia explained that although being unable to gather publicly is very difficult, the ministry is still able to offer assistance and support to those in need from a distance. He shared his gratitude to Magnotta and all of the priests, deacons and laity who continue to help those in need.
“All of us who support this ministry have met with people one-on-one, and on the phone and social media. In addition, we have some wonderful laity supporters, including folks who are Peer Recovery Specialists that I often connect to individuals that contact me. This social distancing time is difficult and so all meetings have been suspended. But we can support each other using our digital networks.”
Deacon Silvia shared an important reminder that whether we are surrounded by support networks or experiencing isolation — it is important to remember that Jesus is always with us.
“We will get to the other side of this time of struggle real soon. Let us just focus, one day at a time, remaining close to the God who loves us totally and with infinite mercy. Jesus Christ carries us through so much and when we turn to him, he is always there, holding out his hand and giving us peace. My prayers go out to all who struggle.”
St. Matthias is a ministry of the Catholic Charity Appeal and Magnotta explained how a donation to the appeal directly benefits the program.
“Like so many of our ministries, the Catholic Charity Appeal benefit is essential for our existence and the support that we provide. This is especially true, since we get no grants or other financial support, except what is given from the Catholic Charity Appeal. In addition, the work that we do is always free and strictly dedicated to helping our parish communities and individuals and families who are in need of support. We welcome all and offer the love, hope and the dignity given by our Catholic faith.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared that people with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The CDC has added that sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
For more information on St. Matthias Ministry, visit dioceseofprovidence.org/recovery-st-matthias-ministry. Or contact, Peter A. Magnotta Licensed Social Worker (MSW), LICSW, Office of Life & Family at 401.421.7833 | pmagnottadioceseofprovidence.org.
MASSES FOR THOSE IN RECOVERY + HOPE AND COPE
Masses are offered for the intentions of those in recovery, their families and support network, and the parishes that also provide a network of support. When Sunday Masses are held again, the Masses for intentions will occur once a quarter at 5 p.m., at several locations all throughout the state:
January / April / July / October at St. Barnabas in Portsmouth
February / May / August / November at Bishop Hendricken Chapel in Warwick
March / June / September / December at All Saints Church in Woonsocket
St. James Chapel the first Sunday of each month, October - June at 2 p.m.
Also, once a regular schedule returns, a monthly Hope and Cope support group will resume its monthly meetings at St. Barnabas Church in Portsmouth. There are plans to expand these meetings to the Bishop Hendricken Chapel in Warwick and also All Saints Church in Woonsocket.
MAKE AN IMPACT IN THIS TIME OF NEED
Because of the generosity of so many, the Catholic Charity Appeal is able to support numerous ministries and programs of the Diocese of Providence, providing social, educational and spiritual support to thousands of Rhode Islanders each year regardless of race, creed or background. These ministries continue to operate during the COVID-19 health crisis. Visit dioceseofprovidence.org/cca to learn more or to donate.