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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: magik314 ()
Date: January 06, 2009 12:21PM

Jay,

I had a hard time keeping up with your last post ,either the thorazine is wearing off or perhaps I'm just not floating in the holy spirit anymore :) . Either way I do relate to the statement "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."

In the community we were off the grid. Mail and phone calls ARE NOT TRANSMITTED. (I actually found a phone and would sneak off down the road in the middle of the night to plug into the neighboring baptist church's outdoor phone jack. This is eventually what got me kicked out. As I began sharing it with others :) I was trying to contact my now ex wife and 6 month old daughter.

I discovered shortly after getting kicked out that my ex had filed divorce proceedings immediately after I had entered the community. I was NEVER going to be served legal documents in the community. Nine months is the average time it takes to receive the first letter from a parent. Fortunately, after being kicked out I discovered the matter in time to contest proceedings which would have permanently removed my 6 month old daughter from my life. This month I will celebrate my daughters 5 yo old birthday together with her and her mother. Today the ex and I have an enjoyable and healthy relationship and my daughter excels continually.

I don't believe that any drug addict was ever healed by moral reconditioning. There are many paths which may lead a sick addict to a healthy life solution Growing tomatoes, livestock, and creepy callouses on ones knees from praying on the hard concrete floors 6 hours a day might be for someone; however, I assure you there are many many more healthy, morale, and enjoyable routes to recovery. I urge you to give your children these options.

Josh

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Jay ()
Date: January 07, 2009 11:27AM

Dear Magik314,

I am appreciative of your response.

Sorry if you had a negative experience with Community. It isn't for everyone. I will say that I know of a case where a guy was in a situation similar to yours except that he was informed of his wife's considering divorce. Of course, he left that day (who could blame him). I can't tell the details because it is someone else's case, but all I can say is he was informed and that it was not long before he was informed.

This is a bit of a side legal note, but my brother used to be a private investigator who served legal documents from time to time, and I understand its generally the law that in order for a person to be duly served the person has to receive the documents directly, otherwise the serving can be contested no matter how much time has passed. But I don't know the law where you live so maybe this is incorrect.

Another thing is that in regards to it being a healthy living, I lost 40 lbs. that I needed to lose and moderately gained some strength while there. I can recall one day when I was walking and I just had a sudden feeling of absolute health. It wasn't a spiritual feeling. It was just a feeling as if I was in complete physical and mental health.

With all due respect, I do wonder about the nine months figure before getting the first mail. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I don't know of any wait that long. It sounds a little off because that's more time than the time before the parents can see you in person (six months, and I saw exceptions for even that). It wouldn't make sense to make the wait for mail longer than the wait for seeing your parents in person. I almost want to say I saw the person whose case I mentioned above, who left at five months, receive mail, but I don't know if that's a false memory. Of course I didn't mentally record other people's mail; only my own.

Also, I don't remember if it was you or another poster who wrote that 50% of the time we were stuffing envelopes and the other 50% they were making rosaries for sale on the Net. I was there nearly a year and we stuffed envelopes only once and rosaries were made only on rainy days when we couldn't do outdoor work. Granted, this was northern Florida, and after five days of rain I wanted to put the rosaries down, but it certainly wasn't 50% of the time. Anyways, I write this not to you magik but because I came back on this post to amend my previous post and include this.

Look, I'm not saying Comunita Cenacolo is a rose garden. It is, as a visiting priest once defined it, a "purgatory" for sure, and everybody who knew me there knew I went through some difficult times. But looking back I'm glad those difficult times happened because they made the liberation I experienced at Lourdes all the more glorious. Without them, Lourdes would have been just another European vacation (been to Europe before). I reiterate what I said before. Community in Europe was awesome. A lot of the work was the same, but the environment was different. Saluzzo had the place for family members and there were mothers with their babies and young kids. A lot of the guys there were "older guys" in Community (they had been in it longer) and were very sincere in what they were doing. I remember working one day there with a guy who later transferred to the U.S. who pushed me to work quick and hard but was very sincere and honest about it. I learned a lot from him in just one day and later saw him in Florida.

Of course I could tell you and everyone else my own stories of suffering, and they were great (I almost left after three months myself). But that's not the point. The point is to realize the value of Godly suffering and to have faith that He will come through in His time. I don't judge my experience in Community by the suffering I experienced or by the people I was with. I judge it by its center, which was learning a greater dependence on the Holy Eucharist and God for all my needs, and by the spectacular gift that He gave me at Lourdes (for reasons of wanting to remain humble I don't want to say what it was, except to say it couldn't have been given without Cenacolo).

Anyway, that's all for now. God bless.

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: magik314 ()
Date: January 09, 2009 10:02AM

Jay,

I don't know what year you attended OLH but we had a novitiate with a similar background to you who also had an addict brother. Truthfully I am terrible with names so CHEERS regardless. The times I spent working the garden and walking rosaries was beneficial and being apart from society was invaluable. It was a great break from what seemed like "overwhelming stresses" and I'm thankful for the friendships I developed during that short period. My issue is not with people who feel dedicated to their church as you clearly are. My issue is that prior to entering Our Lady Of Hope ones awareness is typically diminished. When you wake up you realize that your family has been told by the community not to acknowledge you if you leave the organization. This is a challenge when they kick you out and leave you on the side of the highway without ID (I never got my Passport or license back despite request (for all I know they are being used to transport people with criminal charges internationally at this point)).
I am writing to a "Cult Watch" website because I truly believe the social dynamic of OLH is Jim Jones F$(!%@ Cult. OLH does not recruit the "religiously inclined" but rather recruits the drug addicts parents. The dazed and confused recruit wakes up and finds that his family has been told to reject him unless he repeats what he has been taught. I lived with many impressionable people who are still pictured on their website and who still don't have a dollar to their name. Jay this place would be ideal if they wanted true believers like you who wished to serve.

Josh

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Jay ()
Date: January 09, 2009 03:34PM

Dear magic314:

I was there in 2007-08, so it's fairly recent.

I should say that the idea of not accepting back into your home your drug addict son or daughter is not a cult philosophy but is a tough but mainstream idea that you can find echoed by many professionals. It certainly isn't Cenacolo's invention. I've seen the disaster it leads to in many families. It can ruin the peace and only serves to prolong the person's drug addiction. I once saw a website of a secular professional who advocated total cutting off of any contact whatsoever. The entire advice for the family was just asking the addict if they were going to get help, and if not terminate relations for life. It seemed a bit extreme and I couldn't swallow it, but I did believe in having my brother leave the family home if he didn't get into Community or some kind of inpatient help. My brother was living in another state and when he hit bottom my family welcomed him back into the home. This was a huge mistake, and I'll never forget feeling like I was putting myself at risk in the drive across country while he was still loaded with crack. The family emergency that I was involved in later was his attempt to commit suicide. Fortunately the day before I sensed he was going to try this and so hid the bullets. This is why I believe the Holy Spirit called me out of Community, because nobody else was thinking he was going to do this. My pride would have kept me going at OLOH, but then I would have had a dead brother on my hands. This is what being welcomed back into the home can lead to, and I witnessed several cases of guys going home before their time, failing, and having to come back.

One thing you might not be aware of is that in the diocese of Saluzzo, where the mother house is located, the Community is officially recognized by the Church. It is known as a Public Association of the Faithful there, one step short of being a full order. For the rest of the world it is still a Private Association of the Faithful, which is less regulated, but you can imagine that many of the ways and means of how things are done trickle down from Saluzzo to the other houses. When an organization is a Public Association of the Faithful in the Church it has to hold to certain standards so that it doesn't become like a Jim Jones group (really, Jim Jones had guns and Kool-Aid, with all due respect I don't see the comparison). This doesn't mean there aren't groups in the Church without controversy. Look at Opus Dei and the Legionnaires of Christ. You think Comunita Cenacolo is regimented. I read recently in some Legionnaire locations there is one and only ONE way to eat a banana, and don't you dare do it any other way! You know in Cenacolo you'd just grab and peel, though a lot of guys liked to slice them.

I did see some cases of guys who left who weren't just dropped off the side of the road. One guy from Canada left after a month and he was allowed to call his mother and make arrangements for his coming home. I think he got dropped off at a bus station. Another guy's parents came to pick him up. I don't know anything about drug rehab places other than Cenacolo, but it would seem to me that given the fact that the men and women are adults, if they leave nobody at the facility is going to drive them anywhere. My brother went to the Betty Ford center and left a few days before his time was up and there was no consideration of them driving him anywhere. I don't remember but my guess is he had to be picked up. I think the best solution in any case is to just have the parents come and pick them up but often distance makes that a problem.

I will admit that most guys entering Community are down and out in life and so may not understand what they are getting into, but one of the great surprises was that I saw some guys enter who in some ways were happier than I was. One was a strongly religious person who left after a few months because it wasn't religious enough!

Look, I don't really feel comfortable talking about Cenacolo so much in a public forum because I'm not an official representative of them and now's the time for me to start focusing more on the future and not the past, so this will be my final post. I think I've offered all I need to and if other families see this they can take it and balance it with what you've said and what others have said and whatever other info they can gather and make up their own minds. All I can say is I went through a lot of Godly suffering but also received some tremendous blessings and, in the process, even got some screwed up things in my own life worked out. I'm struggling a bit right now because another order I tried to enter didn't seem to work out for vastly different reasons, but wherever God wants me I'll get there.

I'll send a few prayers your way, magik. Thanks for your kind words. And hey, if they did it in your time like they did it in mine, you have to admit the pizza was pretty damn good!

God bless

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Michaelammari ()
Date: February 19, 2009 04:08AM

To anyone who is interested:

I am a former member who spent a year at OLOH. I spent a year at OLOH and left voluntarily because I felt I was ready...I was not. I stayed clean for about 7 months and had a very nasty relapse. My family gave me the option to go overseas to stay with family, but I chose to head back to the Cenacolo Community and that speaks volumes.

Community cenacolo is not entirely easy, but recovery is not supposed to easy. My beginning months there were beautiful and had many friends. I am 35, with two degrees so the work day did not bother me much. I believe like any other program or life for that matter, is going to have both positive aspects and negative aspects. With respect to community cenacolo you have group of addicts living together and it can be difficult sometimes, but through these difficulties I was able to experience some beautiful things. I saw guys reaching out to each other with sincerity. I saw guys sacrifice for others. I saw guys openly cry in mass. All of us live with deep pain and in order to heal we have to do what is almost impossible to do on the outside with all the distractions, and that is to reflect on who we are, how we deal with situations, and most of all how to forgive ourselves which is one of the most difficult things to do for us addicts. This is my third relapse, and it has been very difficult but through all of it I remembered cenacolo and the peace I felt praying at night. I had never before experienced this peace permeate my life anywhere before.

Cenacolo by itself is not capable of healing us, it's a two part solution. We are introduced to GOD, the rest is up to us. It a journey to rediscover ourselves in the light of GOD. I can say my relapse is because I walked away from what the community proposed. I got caught up in the world once again and the sadness and disconnectedness I felt lead me back down the path of drugs...my only coping mechanism.

All of the other things that were mentioned in the post are inconsequential. Most complain or are angry because they have not learned enough to be humble. It's an assualt on pride, an exercise in anger to hear something about yourself that you don't agree with.....but over 85% of the times they are usually true. Addicts are immature by nature, angry, depressed and deal with a lot of pain on a daily basis. Cenacolo helped me overcome these things. It is a good place and I had many wonderful talks with Albino and Joyce. They are caring and the statement about profit is ridiculous. There is no profit.

I would say that cenacolo is a good place to send your child, but the most important part is that your child is sincere about wanting that change because it is going to entail some very deep struggles. Cenacolo provides the tools and the care to help him/her along but to be honest....the recovery is really up to the family and the addict. Cenacolo is not a baby sitting service and is sometimes confrontational, but I don't see people changing in other way. Often times we grow through struggles, if it isn't difficult then nothing changes.

I am heading to Lourdes, France in about a week and I am excited to be going back to the community..there is a brotherhood and connection there that I look forward to. I also know it will be a difficult time from myself and my family because I plan on spending quite a it of time there.

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: magik314 ()
Date: February 19, 2009 09:20AM

Michael,

I'm sorry for your relapse and wish you and your family the best. I would not wish the disease of addiction on anybody. I personally went into cardiac arrest several weeks before joining community. At the time it was a much needed rest and haven. I believe that Our Lady Of Hope would be a wonderful establishment if it extended its services only that far. After leaving community (and may I repeat being dropped penniless on the side of I75 :) ) I remained off drugs. Over time I discovered that I'm the only one that can keep "me" off drugs and that "my" life is much more enjoyable if I stop looking for advise and assistance from people who claim to have solutions for me. I no longer participate in any recovery group as believe them to be unhealthy long term solutions. From a high level my problem with OLH is that it makes no attempt to realistically return its members to society. After someone has been in an isolated environment for 5+ years they are totally disconnected from the outside world. There is no effort to help the participant achieve employment, housing, or establish relationships with friends or support groups. Instead the addict is returned to their parents as "All Fixed". I love my parents to death but, today I also realize they are no healthier than me. Looking back I wanted to use drugs every time I lived with them. Time means nothing in terms of recovery and recovery doesn't really begin until an addict is face to face with their drug and chooses not to use. I'm grateful I didn't waste 5+ years delaying a decision I had already made for myself. A half way house would have given me the same rest I got at OLH and would have at least given me options to work my way back into society. As for OLH being for profit. I know the crowd that I was with. These were above average wealthy kids. One claimed his dad was a billionaire but who the hell knows. Yes their parents come and visit and yes they write checks to clear their conscience for passing their degenerate kids off to Albino and Joyce. Providence has been good for Albino and Joyce and their beach front home. What is it they do anyways??? If you happen to find yourself back in St. Augustine think of them sitting by the ocean while your digging a hole for not apparent reason or, perhaps taking a shower with lake water. There is a network of graduated Our Lady of Hope'rs working in St. Augustine but they all seem to be of the Italian persuasion and only come out for soccer games (Every time I write one of these letters I get nightmares of Albino sicking one of these guys on me :) . Life was really rough for a couple of years after OLH. I had lots of wreckage to deal with and my poor shot brain is still trying catching up. Today I have excellent relationships, a six figure job, and troubles like every other person around me but I can say I am a genuinely happy person. I sincerely wish you the best in your path and all others whether members, former members, or considering.


Josh

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Michaelammari ()
Date: February 20, 2009 03:02PM

Magik,

I can't really speak of your experience, I don't know what you went through. I can make a few comments, but they are unlikely to sway you nor are they intended to do so. While I admit the place isn't perfect (but what in this world is), there are somethings you wrote that I don't agree with.

First, there is this perception of a division between the outside world and cenacolo and while there is some truth that it is a controlled environment I don't feel that it has anything to do with getting us ready for the outside world. Anything that we do in this world comes from the individual. We all have choices to make, the key is to come to grips with yourself and your weakness so that you have the ability to make the right decisions when those choices are in front of you. In my own opinion, there are too many distractions on the outside for you to have time to evaluate yourself and spend time reflecting on what is important for you. Personally, being a guy who has worked all his life and was always acutely aware of the absurdity of our society, I found my time there peaceful. I love my personal adoration at night, I found peace in my search for God. For once in my life, I felt like I was truly searching for something that was permanent and eternal....the search for my soul so toa speak. That's not to say everyone has the same experience. I think that the disconnection from the outside world is inconsequential...there is nothing. The only thing that matters is what goes on inside of us. Most guys who referred to it as the outside world never got over there attachments to our previous lives. Life can be lived in any situation, it all depends on what we choose to focus on. I chose to focus on God and trying to subdue the anger and regrets inside of me. It was not easy, and obviously it did not take a deep enough path. In the end the things that caused me to leave were my family and a great desire to get my career back. I lost sight of the fact that the only reason this was important to me was because I had a need to prove something to those around me. This was a big mistake and something I did not see because I lied to myself. There is so much in our lives that are dominated by emotional complexities and cause us to do things we normally wouldn't do, I thought I was different...but in the end I wasn't. God found another way to humble me.

The second item I would like to bring up is this notion that organizations tell us how to get better. There is no silver bullet to addiction it may seem. But I have seen plenty of ex members, non italians, who have stayed the course and continue to do very well. It all depends on our belief structure. I realize that I never really fully bought into the idea of God...something I have struggled with all my life. The community is not a place to burn time, but it can be if you so desire. We can go through the motions, complete all the responsibilites and still end up on the streets. In my mind, drug addicts lack boundaries and most of all a sense or morality. Morality, in my mind can only come from one place. Religion..whichever you chose to follow. On the outside people for the most part have regressed into selfish, materialistic and most of lack any real compassion for those who suffer. I have felt it all my life and have never felt comfortable with the crowd. I felt a sincere compassion at cenacolo, friendship, and most of all a kinship. Not with everyone, but with a few. What I am trying to say, is that change is ultimately up to you. Cenacolo is just one choice, there are millions of others. One size cannot fit everyone.

I am coming back to cenacolo because I have understood one thing. I cannot continue to exist doing what I am doing. I no longer value the business world I live in...it is empty and meaningless. I never cared about money, material things and I acquired them only because I was conditioned to do so. My soul always knew otherwise and I have paid the price for not being true to myself. I understand that the only important thing in my life is to attempt to do something that is in line with my soul and that is sacrifice for those in need. This is the only thing that has ever brought me any kind of happiness. My accounting career is dirty. I can no longer live with the fact that I drive a BMW while some poor kid in another part of the world doesn't have a piece of bread to eat. I am aware of my own lack compassion. I have the drive and the ability to live an alternative life...one free from the horror of commercialism...I detest it.

I plan on dedicating the rest of my life to serving others....cenacolo is a path to do this so for me it's right. For others it may not be so. I have always felt a burning sensation inside of me that something wasn't quite right and I believe to this day that this void can only be filled by God...but I have to journey there....it doesn't happen overnight. Cenacolo helped me to discover this and it can do the same for others, but that person has to be sincere about why he is there. If he's there to change, then it makes no difference where you are. If he's there because he has no where else to go and never takes a sincere approach to refection...then he will always be an addict. Cenacolo will not change the addict if the addict has no desire to change.....choices and decisions are always made by ourselves...what we chose to hate, like and tolerate....if we can't get these emotions under control then they will control us....The discipline, the peace and the joy I felt at cenacolo have changed me..because I invested the time in myself. I can say I now truly am only beginning to understand myself and with the help of God I feel i'm finally on the path I was meant to be on.

I would have never entertained this train of thought had it not been for the community...I am grateful to them, and I was dropped off on the highway...but I understood what they were trying to do and I forgave them because they gave me so much more.

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Jay ()
Date: April 17, 2009 02:37PM

OK, I know I said I would say no more, but I'm shocked as all get out to see Mike's postings here. I knew already that Mike had gone to Lourdes, but darn if I wish I had been on this board when he was writing!

Mike, I know you are not going to see this in Lourdes, but if you did I'm sure you would know me. Man, we had some good memories together, didn't we? I still probably can't split wood worth squat, and you probably lost more than a few hairs on your head from being on food dispense while I did breakfast! But I'll always remember the times we had some good conversations together and the friendship we built. I'll always remember the night you, me, and Johnny made the chocolate peanut butter crepes. No hassles, just smooth coordination and conversation for hours. That was one of the best moments in Community for me.

I hope to go to the Festival of Life in Saluzzo this summer but I don't know if I will be able to. If I do I hope to do a side trip to Lourdes. If I go maybe I will see you at either place.

Mike, its really good to hear from you, even if its in this indirect way. It's been tough on the "outside" and the past couple days have been really tough with me and my family. Man you've changed a very difficult day just by hearing from you. But you always had pearls of wisdom to share with others. Even if you didn't put your name to your posts I'd still have known it was you just from the way you speak. Keep following God's path. You were one of those who taught me the most about life and myself and how to look at and improve myself in Community.

Parents, not everybody in Community is like Mike here, but its the Mikes of Community that will help your child. He wasn't the only one. There were others. But his posts here are way better than mine.

Jay

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: magik314 ()
Date: April 17, 2009 10:43PM

LOL. Just laughing at the irony that all the supporters are catching up with with each other at the "Cult Watch" message board.

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Re: Drug Rehab Cult Comunita Cenacolo
Posted by: Jay ()
Date: April 18, 2009 09:51AM

Magik:

I know this is a public message board and I don't mean to sound ugly after we've exchanged kinder words before but your comment seems to belittle the camaraderie that Mike was talking about and to be honest is taken as offensive here.

I don't know if the leaders of Cenacolo would agree, but I like to compare the Community setting to one like being in a peactime military. Goodness knows you don't experience anything like war there, but the camaraderie from being in a very compartmentalized setting, having to rely on each other for everything, working nearly always side by side with someone, and sharing a unique experience leaves one with special attachments to those who lived it with you and stuck it out. If Cenacolo is a cult then the U.S. military is a cult, because there's nothing that goes on there that hasn't been matched and exceeded at any military base or war college.

The last few days have been an extremely difficult between me and my family for precisely the reasons why I went to Cenacolo. I live with a family that is blind to God and believes in hate. For all of Cenacolo's difficulties, there is no comparison between the things that went on there and the absolute insanity that exists here. But my day yesterday was greatly improved at the end by seeing the words of this person whom I had not spoken to in nearly a year. He spoke on the same level with me many times with the same wisdom. To me yesterday it didn't matter what kind of a message board I found Mike's comments on. It could have been an alien abductee survivor's site for all I care. I still would have posted.

If you want to interject something that's negative into an exchange between two other people, please resist the urge and keep it to yourself.

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