Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Come hear me speak about Father Ed during the Eucharistic Congress—and help spread the word!

Four months ago, I approached an official from the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis offering to speak on Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.'s Spiritual Sponsor, my biography of the Jesuit whose spiritual guidance changed the life of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. The official told me that all speaking slots for the event were filled.

I then asked if there would be a room set aside at the Eucharistic Congress for Friends of Bill W. It is common practice at large conferences and on cruise ships to designate a place for people who are in recovery programs to meet. Out of respect for the participants' anonymity, the meeting space is called the place for Friends of Bill W. rather than the "A.A. room" or some other name identifying it as a place for recovering alcoholics or addicts.

The official responded that no such room had been designated. There were no plans for any programming at the Eucharistic Congress for people in recovery, and no space for them to meet.

I found it absolutely incredible that an event promoted by the U.S. bishops that is expected to draw eighty thousand Catholics from around the country failed to make any provision whatsoever for people in recovery. Studies show that about ten percent of Americans abuse alcohol. Many more suffer from drug addiction or have family members who abuse substances. If the Eucharist is about healing, then these people should be among the first whom the Eucharistic Congress seeks to reach, not an afterthought. Certainly under no circumstances should the Catholic Church ignore them.

So I decided to step out in faith and rent an event room, coffee and cookies included, at the nicest hotel I could find within walking distance of the Eucharistic Congress, on the evening of the congress's first full day. I wanted there to be an attractive and welcoming place where people in recovery, their families, and their friends could find fellowship for an hour and a half, and could enjoy hearing me share Father Ed's story.

To my joy, two outstanding Catholic-led apostolates to people in recovery, the Ignatian Spirituality Project and iTHIRST Initiative, stepped forward to co-sponsor the event. Through their generosity and that of other kind folks who stepped up, all my costs are now covered, thanks be to God.

I am therefore delighted to invite you to hear me speak on "Father Ed: The Story of Bill W.'s Spiritual Sponsor" on Thursday, July 18, at the Theory Room at Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, One South Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis, IN, 4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Registration is strongly recommended; register online at tinyurl.com/IndyFatherEd.

Please, please, please spread the word. We can't wait for someone out there somewhere in the Church to do something to encourage people in recovery. We are the Church, and with the help of fellow members of the faithful such as those in the Ignatian Spirituality Project and iTHIRST Initiative, we can make a real difference in the lives of people with addictions and their families.