Church in Bogotá and Bergamo join together to help drug addicts recover

drug addiction recovery in Bogota Staff at a new facility in the Archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia, that helps people recover from drug addiction. | Credit: Courtesy photo

The Church in Bergamo, Italy, and Bogotá, Colombia, have recently joined together through two Catholic foundations to help people who have fallen into drug addiction to recover.

The Santina Foundation, directed by Msgr. Luigi Ginami, a priest of the Diocese of Bergamo, and the Domus Colombia Foundation, part of the Care for Human Dignity ministry of the Archdiocese of Bogotá and headed by Father Jorge Arias, have agreed to work together to combine their efforts.

The first fruit of this collaboration has been the expansion of a home for drug addicts that the Domus Foundation administers in the town of Silvania in the Cundinamarca department of Colombia. The project was blessed May 3.

The expansion will allow 10 more people to be accommodated in addition to the 15 who already reside there.

The construction of the new addition has been possible thanks to the financing obtained by the Santina Foundation in Italy, which takes its name from Ginami’s mother, who died in 2012 due to an illness that left her disabled. Her condition influenced the Italian priest’s vocation.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Ginami explained that the foundation, created in 2015, also works in Vietnam, Kenya, Gaza, Iraq, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru.

He came to Colombia in 2022, where he learned about the project located in Silvania, which has the support of the archbishop of Bogotá, Luis José Rueda Aparicio, in order to take the Church to the existential peripheries, as requested by Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis tells us that the poor are the flesh of Jesus, as are the prisoners,” the Italian priest said.

Ginami said that he is already working on another project to build a soup kitchen for poor children in Bogotá.

A process of recovery at the hand of God

Speaking with ACI Prensa, Father Arias explained that the process of rehabilitation for people who became addicted follows three stages in which the treatment of the condition goes hand in hand with spiritual accompaniment.

Collaborating with the Domus Colombia Foundation are the Sisters of the Holy Family of Urgell, the House of Mercy, and the Vincentine Sisters.

The priest explained that the person’s freedom is always respected during the process, which includes the possibility of wanting to quit the program. The first step is outpatient treatment. The person then goes to stay for approximately one to two years at a residential facility such as the home in Silvania, and finally re-enters society.

For this stage, “the Archdiocese of Bogotá has a center called San Gabriel” where they are helped to find work or resume their studies. This part is accompanied by a process “to verify that everything is going well.”

“They are tested for [drug] consumption, psychologists monitor them, we go to the families and see how they are doing. Over time we are verifying that the process is working,” he said.

Arias also stressed that what unites the institutions involved is that all people with addiction are respected in their dignity as children of God. “They feel loved from the beginning,” he said.

Participants are also invited to pray the rosary and participate in lectio divina as well as to a “circle of faith” led by the Domus Foundation where they receive theological and spiritual formation.

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The purpose is for them to “recover that dignity, since they ‘fight’ with God because they feel like the worst there is. They say, ‘Because I’m so bad, I don’t deserve to be with God.’”

So “what is it that we do? Help them recover their dignity as a person. There they begin to understand: ‘I am a child of God. If I am a child of God, I want to respond to him, to be closer to him.’”

“They’ve surprised me. I made an oratory for them because they asked me to. A chapel has been built in Silvania and I go and celebrate Mass once a week for them,” he said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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