Lady of Victory, Stroud (May 5). The Stroud he describes does not resemble in any way the place which holds a special place in my heart and in the hearts of many priests and religious.
I arrived in Stroud from Ireland in January 1987. My life was a complete mess and I had not worked as a priest for some six months. I cannot describe the pain and hopeless despair I felt at this time.
I found in Stroud love, support, understanding and acceptance. God's love touched me through the Paracletes. I was, 1 believe, loved back to health. 1 left after a month, stayed sober but in May of the same year I wished to re-enter active ministry so I returned to Stroud.
No bishop would pay my expenses but 1 received the same love, support and understanding as before and my stay was funded entirely by the Paracletes themselves. I am now back in active ministry and I owe my life and my usefulness as a priest to the help I got in Stroud. 1 am only one of many who could tell such a story of Stroud.
Doctor Paul's letter contains so many false statements I could never answer them all. May 1 make just three points.
(I) He claims he has found little long term sobriety among priests who have been in Stroud. All he sees is bitterness and resentment. This is simply not true. There are hundreds of priests many of whom are known to me who share my love and gratitude for Stroud.
(2) He mentions one priest who was so frightened to return for a day that he got drunk on
the way. One out of how many? There is no mention of the 60 or so who return each year sober and full of joy.
(3) He claims Stroud delays AA help. Not true. The whole programme is based on the AA 12 steps of recovery.
Dr Paul has taken one priest's obvious bitterness and resentment and on that basis utterly rejects the good work done by the Paracletes.
May God continue to bless Stroud and may many priests
and brothers find the same love and support which I found there when I needed it most.
Fr John Glasgow MAYBE Dr Paul, (May 5) might be open in the long tradition of medical practice to a second opinion.
Like the doctor, I too am a recovering alcoholic. I am also a Catholic priest. I feel that I might be able to speak with just a little more authority than the doctor, on Our Lady of Victory, quite simply because I have been there for treatment.
The treatment available at Our Lady of Victory saved my life, and opened to mc through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous a new way of living and not only to me, but to countless priests and brothers who through their experience at Our Lady of Victory found a new way of living with contented, lasting and happy sobriety. Many of them returned to their work as parish priests and others have been given positions of trust and authority in their dioceses and orders not much stigma there but enlightenment as would be expected from todays bishops and provincials.
The programme at Our Lady of Victory offers anyone who is open, honest and willing, a new way of living. When I walked through its doors I was dying from alcoholism, and my family and friends were no longer able to help. I had already been to other treatment facilities including the NHS, suggested by Dr Paul, and they failed, quite simply because 1 still wanted to drink.
It was only when I reached my own rock bottom and wanted sobriety for myself more than anything else, that I started on the road to recovery and it was the Paraclete Community at Our Lady of Victory along with the recovering alcoholic priest counsellors members of AA that made this possible. They opened their hearts and their lives and gave me the necessary support 1 needed.
can sum up my feelings about Our Lady of Victory in one word: gratitude.