I first encountered Cenacolo early in January 2012. A neighbour told me of the existence of the organisation after enquiring about my son who she knew was a problem drinker. She told me – “they work miracles!!” I was not sure that I really believed in miracles. I was wrong.
I travelled alone to my first meeting, a little nervous, not knowing what to expect. I need not have been concerned. After prayers at the Blessed Sacrament Shrine in Liverpool I was greeted by the group members. I immediately felt a great sense of welcome and of empathy and sympathy from all. I told my story of a 34 year old son who was frighteningly alcohol dependent. People understood, most had personal, first-hand experience of an alcohol or drug dependent child. I felt reassured by my reception and relief at the non-judgemental attitude of my hearers. We have all learned that alcoholism and other addictive behaviour can strike any family and is not the fault of the parents.
Group leaders gave me a brief history of Cenacolo, an outline of what Community means and information about what was needed for an addict to enter into Community. The first pre-requisite is the co-operation and willingness of the addict. I was by no means certain that this would be forthcoming.
The following week I told my son what I had learned. He immediately said “Alright mum, I’ll come with you tonight”. Result! I was amazed. He duly accompanied me and went each week thereafter having quickly decided that this was something that could really help him. He had previously sought help from the NHS but their methods had not been successful long-term.
On 14th March 2012 I took my son to Our Lady, Queen of Martys house in Kendal for him to start his walk in Community. We received a warm, reassuring welcome from the Responsible, we were given coffee even though it was Lent.
I immediately felt a sense of peace in the House and had no qualms about leaving my son there. I knew it would help him and that he would be safe at last.
Life in Community is not easy. Mother Elvira’s philosophy is that hard work and prayer is the key to getting addicts to understand themselves and move forwards towards healing. My son found his walk difficult and continued to do so for most of his time in Community. With advice and support from the Liverpool Group I was able to stand firm when I received calls telling me that hr wanted to come home. For me, this was not an option as I made clear to him.
With the Grace of God he continued his walk for two and a half years, nine months in Kendal, the remainder in Italy, mostly at Casa Madre in Saluzzo. He persevered and was rewarded by learning much, both practical skills and about himself, realising that he has many gifts. The going was tough but he stuck with it.
He decided to exit Community in September 2014, receiving a blessing from Mother Elvira before he left. Since returning home Gregory has worked hard at his studies and is once more recognisable as the cheerful, loving son he used to be.
I know what my neighbour means by miracles – now I’m a believer!
I feel so grateful to God and to the Cenacolo Community.
Claire – A Thankful Mother.