By Hannah Suzuki
Young people from the San José Hogar de Cristo (Saint Joseph Home of Christ) in metropolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina highlighted the importance of faith in the fight against drugs, and encouraged people who want to be free from drug addiction not to let themselves be robbed of hope.
The Hogar de Cristo explains on its website that it’s a federation that “groups together Neighborhood Centers” to “provide a comprehensive response to situations of social vulnerability and/or the problematic consumption of psychoactive substances, putting the person and their qualities at the center.”
“Our Neighborhood Centers draw near to those who are alone, orphans, desolate, sick and also those whose health is compromised by drug use. There we get to know each person’s sacred story and accompany the journey of his body and soul, recognizing him as a person, the image and likeness of God with the possibility of loving and bonding with others,” the outreach states on its site.
Young people from Hogar de Cristo shared their testimony with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, stressing that faith “is everything for a person in recovery” in the fight against drugs, and that “the only one who saves you is God.”
“It’s an experience of being rescued and saved. It’s not the idea of God, nor religion as a custom or a tradition. It’s an experience of the Living God,” they emphasized.
“God is love,” they said, “he is mercy, he is tenderness, compassion, patience, affection,” he is “the God who is the Shepherd of lost sheep, the Merciful God, the Good Samaritan God.”
“It is God who lives in a community that embraces life as it comes, or who goes out to look for it as it is, who evangelizes out of love, serving and being at the side of those who are suffering,” they continued.
The young people said that in their journey to recovery it was the Church “that gave us a place and God gave us a mission,” and that the “Great Family of the Hogar de Cristo (its official title) is an example of faith.”
According to the young people, the Hogar de Cristo “is one of the greatest places fighting
against drugs” because it takes people where they’re at or goes out to find them.
Referring to the words of Pope Francis during his visit to Chile in 2018, the young people said the problem “is not feeding the hungry or to giving drink to the thirsty,” but rather the mission is to believe that the one who “is hungry, thirsty, passing through, sick, or imprisoned, has a dignity and worth to sit down at my own table, enter my own house and really make it my family.”
They also said that the lives of all the saints serve as an example for people fighting drug addiction, such as St. Louis Orione, who teaches that “at the door of my house you will not be asked your name, your race or your religion, you will be asked what is your pain.”
“We try to follow the example of St. Alberto Hurtado who said “the poor man is Christ.
The young people said they learn from St. John Bosco “to arrive earlier,” from the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and from the future blessed, Bishop Enrique Angelelli, to have “one ear on the people and another on the Gospel.”
From St. Oscar Romero they learn that “the glory of God is that the poor live,” and from the holy priest St. José Gabriel Brochero, “God is like lice, he’s everywhere, but preferably where the poor are,” they added.
They also asked young people fighting drug addiction to come to the Hogar de Cristo, and encouraged them that “God loves you and has time, patience, and will wait for you.”
The recovering addicts would tell them that “they deserve a chance to change their lives and that nothing is lost. That you can start over and begin again, don’t let your hope be stolen.”
Finally, they encouraged people who have loved ones fighting drug addiction not to tire of helping them, because “the family is the most important thing for people with addictions.”
(CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)