Dear Reader: Hope after Darkness

The statistics are startling: Every 16 minutes, a person in the United States dies from an opioid overdose. Every state has reported a spike or increase in overdose deaths and substance abuse problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the American Medical Association. And the list goes on.

If you asked, I suspect that you would find someone you know who has some connection to those statistics. Many families have been affected by the drug crisis, which seems to be running rampant throughout the world today. And while this crisis is certainly not something new, it does seem to be growing, according to the statistics. Sometimes, the situation can seem helpless.

I have lived through the war on drugs and “Just Say No” era. I have also seen that those slogans, with all the best intentions behind them, aren’t working. But then there are the stories of people who find their way out of the dark night of drug addiction. One of those individuals is featured on page 32 of this month’s issue.

Father Michael Joseph (M.J.) Groark, OFM Cap, could have very well been one of the statistics. However, with the help of faith and the Capuchin Franciscans, Father M.J. faced his addiction and eventually found his way to the priesthood. His story is an honest look at what addiction can do to someone and the hope of making it to the other side toward recovery.

Let us pray for all those touched by the illness of addiction, that they may find peace and healing.

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