“The Junkie Priest”
Daniel Egan, a Bronx native, joined the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in 1935 and was ordained a priest. A turning point in his life came in 1952, as he was preaching in a church and noticed a woman in grave distress. She confessed that she was a drug addict struggling to kick her habit.
Though Egan called every hospital in town, none would admit her: “She was shrugged off as a criminal.” He decided at that moment that he must open a home for women like her. That was the inspiration for Village Haven, a halfway house for women addicts, located across the street from the women’s house of detention.
The location was no accident. As Egan discovered, most of the women in the city jail were drug addicts. And yet few resources at the time were dedicated to recovery from addiction. Most authorities, even medical professionals, wrote off such addicts as hopeless cases.
Father Egan believed otherwise. Egan received permission from his order to dedicate himself full time to working with addicts, and he became such an expert in the field that he was dubbed “the Junkie Priest”—a name he happily adopted. Father Egan died on February 10, 2000.
Questions for Reflection
- We all have crutches—big or small. What dependencies in your life require attention? How can faith help you rise above them?
- Father Egan saw grace in those from whom society turned away. St. Francis did the same with lepers in and around Assisi. Who are the lepers in our society today? How can we embrace them as sisters and brothers?
- In what ways can we strips ourselves of all things worldly and depend on God's grace alone? In this opulent century, could you do it?
“If we had the vision of faith, we would see beneath every behavior—no matter how repulsive—beneath every bodily appearance—no matter how dirty or deformed—a priceless dignity and value that makes all material facts and scientific technologies fade into insignificance.”
Father Daniel Egan