My name is Leanne and I am 36 years old. I come from Liverpool and I am proud to say that I have been part of this Cenacolo family for just over 2 years.
Today I can tell you that Cenacolo has saved my life, changed my life and given me a deep peace, joy and happiness that I never knew existed. I arrived in Italy 2 years ago as a lost, broken little girl as an absolute last resort. I had tried every other option to stop drinking – doctors, psychologists, medicine, 3 different rehab programs but I was worse than ever.
My life was chaos, I was killing myself and I hated myself for not being able to stop and for the hurt and the heartache I was causing to my parents, family and friends. I thank God today that I have a wonderful Dad and step mum who never gave up trying to help me and who still believed in me when I no longer believed in myself.
They heard about Cenacolo from a friend who had been and visited the community on a pilgrimage in Medujorie and had heard the testimonies of the boys and girls at the house there. She had been praying for me and believed it was the right place for me – I wasn’t convinced.
We went to the weekly meeting at The Shrine in Liverpool where we were all welcomed with open arms by parents who had lived and experienced addiction with their own children, who had then entered community and changed their lives. They all shared their stories and I felt understood at last – I knew deep down I was in the right place but I was very scared at the prospect of leaving “my life” as I knew it, giving up everything and everybody to move to Italy where I didn’t know anyone or understand the language – Now I realize that I wasn’t actually living – that my life was just an existence before. However in true “addict style” I made a million excuses and reasons as to why I couldn’t go, how community wasn’t for me and this time I could stop for good on my own – After this last disastrous attempt God gave me a window of grace where I was desperate, defeated and finally said my Yes to start this journey “From the darkness to the light”.
I can’t thank the group from The Shrine enough for their love,patience, support, advice and prayers, for me and my parents – they made the arrangements for us and when we got to the house in Italy I was terrified as to what to expect – I needn’t have worried. The girls were lovely, very friendly and welcoming and then I was introduced to my “Guardian Angel” who was Irish – She was by my side through everything at the beginning of my walk, the tears, the struggles, the small steps, the changes and the laughter. She translated for me, encouraged me to learn Italian, explained everything and helped me to settle in.
I was immediately touched by the joy and peace that all these girls had and the light and sparkle I could see in their eyes. I couldn’t believe it when they told me that when they arrived they were also like me, that they had lived similar pasts and experiences, but they had discovered the mercy and the love of God here in community, that they had learned to forgive themselves for their mistakes and had rediscovered the joy and beauty of their lives again – I was intrigued. I wanted what they had too and seeing it in them gave me the strength and courage to want to stay and fight and with their help and support find it for myself as well.