Together in Spirit

Browsing From the Desk of Fr. Mike

First Part of My Journey

It seemed to me that the best way to get my luggage from Lino Lakes to Downington was to drive. I would have preferred to take the train, but there was one segment of that trip that did not allow large luggage. I started on a Friday and drove from here to Peoria. I drove country roads as opposed to the freeway system. I got lost somewhere in Iowa and found myself at the door of New Mellery Abbey which is a Trappist monastery outside of Dubuque. The next day I traveled from Peoria to a small town in western Pennsylvania. Finally on Sunday morning I arrived at Saint John Vianney Center.

They were in the middle of Sunday Mass and I could hear them singing as I waited by the entrance. When they finished Mass the door opened and I was welcomed by a couple of nurses who carried my bags in and sat me down for my first of several interviews. As this occurred they unpacked my bags and moved anything that was deemed “ dangerous” for me and others which they put into a “sharps” storage locker. I would not get any of those items back until I left the facility.

The first couple of weeks were dedicated to testing. I was given a battery of psychological tests as well as a medical physical and a physical therapy exam. By the time they were done it was determined that in fact I qualified to be admitted to the program. The first sign of this acceptance was that I was assigned to the “Kairos” program which met each morning. This was a meeting of all the qualified residents (most everyone in the house) in which anyone who had a need for discussion could lead the topic. Sometimes they were fascinating, more often boring beyond measure.

Once I began this I was also assigned to several classes (cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma history, emotions, grief, and several others) in which I was encouraged to examine my present state and see how I might improve. Most of theseclasses were informative and perhaps actually formative. I also began meeting with a spiritual director and a primarycounselor as well as a psychiatrist. At the same time I had physical and occupational therapy and went to a lifestyles balance class where a dietician taught us how to eat healthy and nourishing meals.

From the beginning I ate three meals a day, but we never talked about calories, instead we talked about listening to our bodies and stopping our eating when we were satisfied. With three meals a day and very few snacks I lost weight gradually. I also was expected to walk throughout the campus to attend the classes and other events. I could feel myself getting stronger and more capable of physical activities. Between the classes and the counseling I began to address the main issues that brought me to SJVC in the first place.

Next time I will talk about that.



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