In Allegheny County last year, 689 people died of overdoses, up 22 percent from 2019, with the increase due in large part to the pandemic, according to Father Michael Decewicz, who founded the diocese’s Addiction Recovery Ministry (ARM) in 2018.
“Addiction is a disease of isolation. That isolation leads to more use, to relapses,” Father Decewicz said. “So many people I have seen during this pandemic who have relapsed have moved away from their 12-step support group. That loss of fellowship…really had a great impact.”
Supporters of ARM are set to celebrate the opening of its new location with the goal of helping more people suffering from substance abuse disorders.
A grand opening will be held on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Venerable Matthew Talbot Center for Hope and Healing. It is located in the lower level of Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Harmar, 2599 Freeport Rd, Pittsburgh, 15238. The church is part of the new Christ the King Parish.
Father Decewicz, who retired recently from parish ministry, moved ARM from Sharpsburg to Harmar and will continue as director.
Father Levi Hartle will kick off the program Sunday, leading Prayer and Praise Nation Pittsburgh. Attendees will be invited to paint the names of loved ones lost to addiction on rocks that will be placed in a new memory garden. The celebration will close with the reading of the 12 Steps and 12 Promises and the song “Amazing Grace.”
ARM’s mission is “to provide support, encouragement, education, and to bring the love of God to all those struggling with addiction and recovery, and to all those loved ones who have been affected in any way by this disease.”
The ministry will continue to offer weekly meetings, spiritual enrichment and special events in Sharpsburg, with 12-step recovery meetings and support groups for loved ones four nights a week at the John Paul I Center. Classes including Six Steps to Sanity are held for those trying to help the suffering, along with a grief support group for families who have lost someone to substance abuse.
Father Decewicz celebrates Mass at noon Tuesday through Thursday at Saint Francis Church. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament takes place after Mass on Wednesdays, AA meetings are held at 6:30, with a Holy Hour for Recovery that begins at 7 p.m.