The friars of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow) have been working with alcoholics and drug addicts in Chęciny, Poland, for the last eighteen years.
The Franciscan Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Addiction was established in the former friary there. The property is home to the San Damiano Center for drug addicts and the “Rivo Torto” Hostel for people with addictions who have completed basic therapy. There is also a psychotherapy dispensary for addicts, co-dependents and for the treatment of other mental disorders. People who undergo treatment stay in therapy for several months or come to the dispensary for therapy. Those who wish can enhance and further their therapy thanks to the existing hostels. The friars are trained to work in this friary as therapists or pastoral ministers, helping children, young people and adults, laity and clergy.
In Połaniec, a town 90 km [56 miles] from Chęciny, the friars founded a “Community” hostel for alcoholics. This year, at the end of June, the hostel celebrated its fourteenth year of operation.
The therapeutic program in these places offers treatment for the body, psyche and spirit. In addition to therapeutic activities, the patients are also offered catechesis. The treatment program includes time for Mass, prayer and meetings with a spiritual director. Twice a year, at Lent and Advent, spiritual retreats are offered to the patients in treatment.
The treatment program here is imbued with the elements of Franciscan spirituality. One special aspect of the Center is that it combines several activities: pastoral activities, in which residents of the city and its surroundings also participate, and therapeutic activities, which are offered to people from Poland but also those coming for therapy from abroad. As patients undergo their treatment process, the friars are present, collaborating with lay doctors and therapists.
The creation of the Franciscan center was made possible through modest funds and donations. Very quickly, however, it began to meet state treatment standards and is now funded by the national health fund. As a result, patients do not have to bear the cost of treatment directly.
We trust that the Lord God will continue to bless our service in the years to come.
Friar Piotr STANISŁAWCZYK