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Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: serafin ()
Date: December 01, 2004 05:15AM

Are there any former members of this group out there??????I would like some information if you are.

Comunita Cenacolo located in St Augustine Florida poses as a drug and alcohol rehab but no actual rehabilitation counseling is taking place here. This group indoctrinates first the parents of young men and lures them to convince their sons to enter their program. Once there these young men are stripped of their clothing, identificaton and belongings and are allowed no contact with the 'outside world'...ever. The members perform ritual chanting and prayer based mind control techniques in the few hours each day they are not committed to involuntary hard labor, (from which surely the leaders are making some good money). Each day is identical with 8-10 hours of very hard labor including washing their own clothes on a washboard. There is no electricity in the living quarters, they wake to a bell, daily journals are reviewed and corrected by senior members and extreme use of guilt over past actions and self degradation are also employed. Although the place is not locked down, a mentor ensures that no one leaves.
While my main purpose here is to ensure that this group gets on the map, I am thirsty for more information. Are there any former members of this group out there??????

This group tries to look and feel like its affiliated with the Catholic church by dressing in frocks and indeed being founded by a few former clergy. They meet in Catholic churches who likely know little about them except that they are renting space.

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Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: dennis ()
Date: November 07, 2006 03:47AM

serafin posted on 11/30/04, seeking former members of this group..I was wondering if there were any wife is considering sending our troubled son there.

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Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: serafin ()
Date: November 13, 2006 11:48AM

Dennis - If your son is troubled this is a way to get rid of him. to his and your great loss. This place will require 3 years with virtually NO contact between you, they will completely isolate him from dealing with the real world (NO books, NO newspapers, No television, NO access to a phone for any reason), and his own emotions. When he is finished he will know ONLY how to live in the community and be no closer to healing and growing and dealing effectively with the REAL world (which they call the outside world) or his family or his addiction. He will be stripped of his confidence and sense of independence and will say daily 'prayers' which simply make him declare his guilt. He will detox and then he will work hard in a slave labor type of evironment. He will be taught what to think, what to do, when to do it and thereby lose all ability to make decisions for himself, motivate himself, or know himself. This is damage that may last a lifetime. As I said in my first message there are NO therapists, NO doctors, NO rehab or counseling programs at this place. I urge you to explore other options and I will say a prayer for your family's recovery.

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Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Clint ()
Date: January 14, 2007 06:30AM

Our son is a former member of Comunita Cenacolo and we know for a fact that this is an incredible organization. I will do my best to answer some of the questions you have presented on your posts. If you are seriously considering Cenacolo, this organization is a very rich blessing.

Most important, this is not a place to drop off your young addict. Although it costs nothing, it is expected that you will participate by praying locally with other families in your area at a local Catholic Church and attending 2 retreats a year in Florida. If your son or daughter is living in Florida, you typically spend time with them during the retreat.

Now to the questions. The web site can answer most of these questions more eloquently that I, so I will cut and paste where appropriate. The web site address is This address takes you to 3 sites – one for the United States, one for Italy and one for Medugorje. They are all helpful and all in English.

Regarding counseling, from the web site…
“Comunità Cenacolo America is not a therapeutic program; rather, it is a "School of Life." The Community offers an authentic and concrete proposal of life based on Jesus Christ. We lead a simple life based on prayer, sacrifice, renunciation, faith, and work. For those of us who had enough materially but fell into an inner darkness, often accompanied by alcohol or drug abuse, this simple proposal of life is deeply valued because it is genuine, true, and of God. Everyone in desperation is thirsting for love -- true, authentic love -- and this comes, not from man, but from God. This "School of Life" invites us into freedom born of sacrifice, friendship based on truth, and joy rooted in the Cross. “ Prayer and hard work are healing…

The post refers to “indoctrinating the parents” to convince the young drug addict to become a member. You are asked to bring your son or daughter to one of the houses in America where they work during the day and stay with you at a hotel at night. They see a life of hard work and prayer. Some who come for an orientation are tired of the life of a drug addict. They are ready to make a change. Some are young with families who are not setting a good example for their young children. They are asked to go home for two weeks and to pray about making a commitment. They are given a date to return in the future, If they choose to return.

Some young men and women do not want to come to Cenacolo, so their parents are encouraged to give them two options. Living a life of drugs on the street or entering Cenacolo. If they choose the life of drugs, parents are encouraged to not offer them any future support. Most of the young men and women are stealing from their parents and others to fund their habit and they are destroying the home environment.

Cenacolo does not have a house for young women in the United States at the time of my post, but they will have a new house opening - spring 2007. Since much of the work is completed by the young men in Community, an exact date is not possible.

With regards to the comment about being stripped of their clothing, identification and belongings and not being allowed to have contact with the “outside world”, this is partially true. They wear their own clothes unless they bring gang or “dark” clothing to Cenacolo. Many local families that are familiar with the good work of Cenacolo, donate new and used clothing. This gives them a selection of regular work clothes and for those who have destroyed the relationship with their families because of past addictions and related issues, Fest (nice) clothes are provided from these donations as needed.

Cenacolo does not have a fence to keep the men and women within the farm boundaries. However, they do ask for their driver’s licenses etc. when they enter. If they choose to leave they have to ask for their documents. This gives them more time to think about their departure. Our son left after six months. However, he realized within two days he made a mistake. He tells others that the first six months were for his parents and the last three and a half years were for him.

With regards to the ritual chanting, if you are a Catholic you will recognize The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Rosary etc. The foundation of Comunita Cenacolo is the Catholic Church and they pray EVERY day. It’s not part of the Catholic Church, but they are recognized by the Catholic Church. There is more about their recognition on the web site.

With regards to the comment about 8-10 hours of work a day. This comment is partially true. Some days are longer. They grow some of the food they eat, they build the houses they live within, they clean and maintain the houses, barns, animals etc. If you are afraid that hard work with hurt your son or daughter…then stay away. They will learn how to work and pray. They will learn respect, honesty, integrity, and they will learn to become successful young men and women in our communities. They do not work on Sunday.

Regarding the comment about washing their own clothes; they do have to hand wash some of their clothing. What a great way to learn to appreciate something we take for granted every day; the washer and dryer. There is a washer and dryer, but they cannot wash and dry clothing for 20 to 30 people every day. So the young men and women learn to hand wash their clothing if they need something additional washed.

They do have electricity, air conditioning etc. Some of the houses in Europe are heated by a wood furnace that needs attention ever two or three hours. This is not uncommon in small villages in Europe. I have been within houses in Italy, and the United States and they all have power.

With regards to “self degradation,” I would say it’s more a simple, humble way of life, accepting your strengths and learning about your weakness. A life of accepting that you’re a sinner, and that God has a better plan for your future.

With regards to wearing frocks. This is incorrect. Priest’s, Nun’s and Bishop’s frequently visit and they will be in their garments and during services they wear their vestments.

I do not belive they rent space from the Catholic Church. This is a non profit organization. They charge absolutely nothing to enter the Community. They do not ask for money, it is only through the goodness of God that they receive donations and community support.

Is it successful?? My son now lives on his own, is working two jobs, will enter college again in the fall and is an incredible young man. We are so blessed and thankful for all he learned in Cenacolo. There are so many nice young men and women with families that we have met during the past four years who have lived in Cenacolo and are now living examples of the Grace of God.

There is a contact list on the web site - This is a list of parents who are contacts local for Cenacolo around the Country. There is not a management team or corporate staff. It is all run the young men and women and by volunteers.

I am available if you would like to e-mail me or send a telephone number.



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Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: valena ()
Date: February 06, 2007 09:46PM

We are french parents.
Our son, 23 years old, is in Comunita Cenacolo.
Comunita Cenacolo is a very good place for young addicts. A place for LIVE, and learn the life ! With other people, working, praying
[b:ae30344e17]I agree completely with Clint.[/b:ae30344e17]
We know very well Comunita Cenacolo ; we are living near one of their house, 2 minutes only, and we see them quite often ; it is not at all a "destructive" : but a "constructive" group !
My son is very well now, and we feel quite better too. Before, with drugs, there were very bad moments in the family : now peace, and progress !
He is in a "house" in France, then in Italy, since 19 months for both.
My husband spend 2 weeks with him, now !
We are a lot of friends beyond other parents.
Please excuse my bad, but quite faithfull english !

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Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: MT ()
Date: February 08, 2007 04:43AM

I am not a member nor is anyone in my family. However, I have gotten to know the community well over the past year through association with some of its missionaries.

Comunita Cenacolo is an opportunity for addicted men and women to focus on something other than themselves - God.

If you don't believe in God, or you don't agree with much of what the Catholic church teaches, then you probably won't feel comfortable there.

It is very prayer-centered, very Catholic. Mass is celebrated regularly. Other rites and rituals celebrated in the Catholic Church are also celebrated in community, such as Eucharistic adoration, praying the Rosary, etc.

It teaches to find joy in God, not in television, radio, pop culture, drugs and alcohol.

Yes, there is hard work. But the work is also training of sorts for when the men and women exit the community. They find jobs in construction, landscaping, plumbing, etc.

Generally, someone who enters Cenacolo will stay for three years. The first year is to learn to love themselves - as most who suffer from addiction have at least some self-hatred. The second year is to learn to love others. The third is to give back to the community, serving as a "guardian angel" and a leader for those new to the community.

Many of the men and women are transferred to houses in other countries, such as Italy. This gives them the opportunity to learn a new language and culture and also challenges them to live in a foreign land.

Comunita Cenacolo also gives back to the world with several missions to serve poor and orphaned children in countries such as Peru. Some of its former members have gone on to religious life, such as the priesthood.

Many former members have gone on to become excellent spouses and parents.

One thing to note from the first post is that the "leaders" are not making "good money" from the "hard labor". They build their own houses, grow some of their own food, do their own laundry, cook, clean, etc. By taking the focus away from themselves, they learn that through faith and hard work, they can make it without drugs. In short, the labor is for themselves.

The community relies on "Divine Providence" for all their material needs - from clothing to laundry detergent to food that they don't grow themselves. This reliance on others teaches the addict that they can make it through hard times (when supplies are dwindling) and to be grateful for the good times (when there is a surplus).

In the St. Augustine house, there is electricity. There is air conditioning during the hottest months of the year. There are automobiles. There are trips to the beach. There are weekly soccer games. There is singing, dancing, skits and shows.

Their contact with the outside is limited for the first 6 months - when they are the most "delicate" and likely to fall back into their old ways.

Some parents come and spend weeks and months living in the community alongside their children where they're able to forge a new relationship.

There are troubled times, when the men and women fall back into their old ways and lie to cover things up. Occasionally someone is asked to leave if their presence is detrimental to the others. But through prayer and hard work, the community is able to come together and make it through those times, just as we all must do in "real life."

Cenacolo is probably not for everyone. But it certainly is a wildly successful faith-based program for many young men and women.

My prayers are with all who are considering entering Cenacolo and seeking guidance.

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: magik314 ()
Date: December 06, 2008 12:20PM

I'm glad I stumbled upon this listing as I've tried to bring attention to this organization for several years now. About 3 or 4 times a year I visit the Florida Comunita Cenacolo website and am amazed to see the pictures of the same people who were there during my visit almost 5 years ago. These were young 20 -24 yo men seeking treatment for drug addiction. Many of them were less serious cases than I was at the time. I was expelled from Comunita Cenacolo after being there for 3 months. After being assaulted by 5 Senior members who were verbally threatening to do everything in their power to convince my already estranged family that they should abandon me. (I remember thinking that was a bit excessive) I was driven in a van and left at the intersection of I-75 and St. Rd 16 with a duffel bag full of my "hand washed clothes" and nowhere to turn. The rumor is that almost all expelled members walk their way back and due "penance" to be accepted back in. I kept walking. Today I have a successful career, meaningful relationships and avoid the substances which brought me to the community in the first place.

What angers me most about this place is that they feed on very young adults from wealthy parents. The "kids" I see when I come back to this site were not the type that would require long term confinement however the program has no exit strategy. Parents are invited twice a year for a weekend in which food is served, "plays" are performed and large checks are written. This organization exists for profit. 50% of the time the residents are stuffing envelopes or weaving rosaries for sale on the internet. The other 50% of the time they are hauling dirt from one end of the property to the other, kneeling on concrete floors, chanting, and repeating cult like psycho babel such as ("I had a reaction this morning to something that Davide said to me").

I agree with Serafin that "This group tries to look and feel like its affiliated with the Catholic church by dressing in frocks and indeed being founded by a few former clergy. They meet in Catholic churches who likely know little about them except that they are renting space."

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: trevanion ()
Date: December 20, 2008 07:52PM

I was in the Community Cenacolo for six months and thrown out. When I left I was a complete mess. They use shame to manipluate to do what they want. They tell you that love is telling you what is wrong with you. If you stand up for yourself, you told this is your pride. They tell that if you leave that you will not be strong enough to survive outside in the darkness. I was reduced to nothing, I was physically assaulted through pushing, carrying and dragging, I was confined. I was verbally attacked through constantly telling me that I needed to change everything about me. I felt like I lost my voice and I lost my authority.

When people arrive at the community they are usually young and desperate, desperate for the love and acceptance that they have always craved. The community does not encourage and accept, its love is conditional on you doing exactly what you are told. Instead of encouraging every person to become themselves and choose their beliefs, weather that is atheist or christian, they tell you that they are right and for me it felt like they condemned me for believing anything different. They attract people who have little self esteem and think they deserve no better.

When I left I was told I was mentally ill and needed medication, they even told my mother I was frothing at the mouth which was a lie. I was assessed outside and they told me I was fine. I left feeling outcast and condemned.
The community has its view on how the world should work, which is based individuals interruptation of how the world should be, which is very outdated. Its living in world where violence is acceptable, it is acceptable to impose your beliefs on others to make them how you want them to be.

A lot of the them are not hardened drug addicts, I went in with a alcohol problem and left feeling I had done things that I hadnt. I wish I never stepped foot in the place.

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: magik314 ()
Date: December 21, 2008 01:08AM

I think it took me at least 3 years to get over the community (in fact I'm probably still getting over it as I feel the need to visit this board from time to time :) ). When I entered I was all out of answers and my life was in shambles. The community offered to take care of me by eliminating the need for individual thought and any worries over basic sustenance. This was a nice, and probably very needed break for me at the time. The catch to joining a group which feeds you unconditionally is that you must believe and submit to an authority which allows for zero individuality. This is almost universally true. I majored in theology and philosophy at an orthodox Catholic University but was already beginning to see the world in shades rather than the traditional black and white at the time I entered. As I gradually woke up to my surrounding I found an oppressive organization which was profiting by donations from extremely wealthy parents and slave labor from their children. Albino and Mother Alvira claimed to have the truth. In this truth they had the power to control and influence many lives. I used my time at the community to re-evaluate everything I valued and believed to be true. When I was kicked out I had the opportunity to leave the Catholic Church and Our lady of Hope behind. Since I was removed from the community I've encountered several organized groups (recovery based) who claim to have the "ANSWER" whatever that may be. They usually claim the individual is special and that god granted him or her this one chance to "get it right". I've learned that anywhere I go there will be controlling people, and to avoid them people like the plague or at least recognize them for what they are. Our Lady of Hope is nothing special (although certainly bizarre). At the same time there are many wonderful people within these organizations who seek happiness and the best for the individual regardless of his or her beliefs. Anyone with Comunita Cenacolo experience please feel free to write me at

Happy Holidays,


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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Jay ()
Date: December 30, 2008 11:55AM

Coming on to this site I was amazed to see a few people posting after an absence of a few years.

I saw this webpage before I entered Community and thought the original poster had been well enough refuted by parents and friends of Community members. But now that some former members who have had disagreements have responded, let me balance things out a bit.

I spent nearly a year in Community before I too was “kicked out”. However, the circumstances of my leaving were different than those who have posted here. I was not a drug addict. I was seeking a possible vocation with the Community and had a family member who was an addict. However, 20 years earlier I had gone some other battles in my life, so I have some knowledge and experience of bottoming out and the need to return to God. After a year it became clear that a ministry to adult drug addicts and alcoholics was not for me, that the interests of my heart lay elsewhere, and so I was told to go home. Good thing too, as a family emergency came just several weeks later that might have ended up with a family member dead had I not been there. The Holy Spirit had removed me from Community so I could be there to stop this tragedy.

Anyway, on to Community and the concerns of you parents out there. Most days are spent in a combination of work, prayer, and sports. Maybe once a week they get a movie or television sports, but this can vary. Yes, the work is hard, but this is due largely to the hot and humid environment of northern Florida. One thing that the work brings is that you get to appreciate the little things. For example, I am not at all a watcher of television sports, let along the non-American sport of soccer, but I soon began to LOVE it when I saw the TV being rolled out and the tapes of taped games being brought out. Heck, sometimes they were in Spanish, but I didn’t care. Anything to relax with the brothers, a dish of ice cream in hand, after a day of hard work.

Prayer is done primarily through the Rosary, done three times a day. Sometimes this seems mechanical, but after some time you gain the privilege of once a week going to the chapel by yourself and having an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Also, anyone can visit the chapel at night before bed no matter how long they have in Community, as long as they are with someone long enough to have the privilege of opening and closing the tabernacle. So deep, daily meditative prayer is generally available to everyone.

Sports builds character and teamwork and is a great release for everyone. Usually basketball, soccer, or volleyball, these are generally played after work and on Sundays.

Changing the inner man in Community is done also through monthly commitments, which are giving during sharing sessions called Revision. During these sessions the houses are divided into subgroups of four or five and each individual tells how they are living inside themselves and then hears from others how they are doing and how they can improve. A commitment to do something each day—give a brother constructive advice, speak up when you see something wrong, catch yourself when you about to explode and turn it into something more positive—is given. These commitments provide training for brothers in developing the skills to form positive relationships with people and deal with situations once they are on the outside in ways other than resorting to drugs or other dependencies.

Another thing the Community started to emphasize more when I was there was weekly Bible classes. A whole new class on the history of the Church was started as well. These were conducted by one of the Community’s lay leaders.

It is a “rite of passage” in Community in America to go to Europe, where the Community houses are sometimes harder. My Community experience in Europe was very brief—only 2 ½ weeks for a festival and a pilgrimage that I was invited to conclude my experience with—but I saw five separate houses and did Community work for a week at the mother house in Saluzzo, Italy. It was enough to catch a glimpse of how Community truly is. The feeling among all Americans there was that they had “arrived”. After seeing Community in Europe I realized how sad it was for all the Americans who left while still in Florida because they had not seen anything of what Cenacolo truly had to offer. I will never forget staying at the house for men in Lourdes, France and hearing the beautiful French hymns being sung from the cathedral that one could see in the valley of the town at the base of the Pyrenees. The peace that one experiences at the house in Lourdes and in the town itself is so awesome as to warrant enduring any level of difficulty to get there.

Though I did not receive a vocation, I was transformed by my experience in Lourdes. I am extremely envious of those members of Community who get to stay for free there! To spend months, maybe a year or more, for free at the closest place to Heaven on earth? I have since returned to Florida on a couple of occasions and was treated like a king there even by those whom I hadn’t gotten along with very well.

If there is anything that the Community in Florida needs it is resident religious. Some of the houses in Europe had priests or nuns and this changes the climate of the house very much. When a Franciscan friar or one of the Community priests would visit for a few days everyone felt different and more at peace. But this isn’t the Community’s fault. It has to make do with the personnel it has, and those lay individuals who run Cenacolo in Florida do the best with what they have.

A few things to respond to the original poster about: there is electricity in the living quarters, and the “ritual chanting” and “prayer based mind control techniques” are called the Holy Rosary. They don’t dress in frocks. This person might have seen the recital costumes, but they dress in normal clothes 24/7 and this charge is just plain weird. As for its founders, the Community in Europe was founded by a nun in good standing with the Church and in America by a man who is now the acting bishop of Birmingham, Alabama. As a recognized Public Association of the Faithful for the Diocese of Saluzzo and a Private Association of the Faithful for the rest of the world, and having had informal pronouncements of support by both Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II, Comunita Cenacolo is affiliated with the Catholic Church. They don’t, however, meet in Catholic churches, unless maybe you are talking about some of the parent support groups (I don’t know if they do). They have plenty of books (indeed we had to get rid of some once because we had too many), and if anything I was often taught to think for myself in how to solve certain problems.

Finally, I am going to add why Cenacolo may be better than other options. It is because at the center is the Holy Eucharist. Your son or daughter will be involved in daily Adoration of the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The original poster says there is no doctor at Cenacolo. That isn’t true. There is Jesus, the ultimate doctor and healer of our wounds.

I left the Community after nearly a year because, try as I might to make it my vocation and drugs heavily impacting my family, the interest at heart to help adult drug addicts and alcoholics was never built in. My interests are in education and teaching history. This manifested itself in various ways in the program and I was often introverted (I am this by nature) and didn’t develop friendships as deep as I could have in some cases.

My experience ended with an incredible miracle and gift at Lourdes. It was an incredible experience of being elevated from Purgatory to Heaven on earth, and when I returned to Florida for a couple of occasions I was filled with a new spirit that most guys there saw. That is why I would recommend something that not even the people at Cenacolo would think of. If you have the money and the time, go with your husband or wife to Europe to see Cenacolo in Europe. Go to Lourdes. Go to Medjugorje. Go to the mother house in Saluzzo. See the huge former royal estate that is now the Cenacolo house of Borgero in Turin. Go to the house in Knock, Ireland. If you send your child to an orientation in Florida you’ll already be going there, but you’ll only see a part of Community and not it at its fullest. You can decide whether or not to take your child, but I wouldn’t. Leave them behind and let them build the faith and trust in your word and in God.

Comunita Cenacolo isn’t for everyone. But above all for parents I would recommend that you do SOMETHING about your child’s problem. Believe me, being in a family that has no faith and refuses to change but whose drug addict member was introduced to Community, only to have them refuse it and still be accepted back into the house where everybody distrusts each other and there is no real love, SUCKS. Take it from an insider who has been through the Cenacolo experience and been in your position as well. Don’t make the mistakes my family has made. Contact the Community. Get your child in and GET INVOLVED. Visit Cenacolo in Europe. Make contact with other families. Change your own lives towards more going to Mass, more praying the Rosary, more doing Adoration. Take the journey with your child, don’t just dump them off at the Community’s doorstep. You will find at the end having done a faith journey to God like you have never done before in your lives.

I am not an official contact for Community so I do not claim to speak for it, but I can for anyone interested relate more of my personal experience in how it impacted me.

God bless

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/29/2012 08:54PM by rrmoderator.

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