Dominican Sisters of Peace Help Build “Bridge to Hope”

St. Catharine Motherhouse in St. Catharine, KY.

Religious Sisters have a history of offering sanctuary to those in need – those fleeing persecution, those needing medical assistance – the St. Catharine Motherhouse even hosted soldiers from both sides of the Civil War.

In today’s world, there is a whole new group of refugees seeking sanctuary at the door of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine Motherhouse in Bardstown, KY – women who are seeking a safe place to escape the dangerous world of drug use and abuse.

Kentucky has the third highest rates of opioid overdoses in the nation; the state lost nearly 1500 lives to overdoses from fentanyl, heroin and other opioid drugs in 2017. But Kentucky’s rural environment makes overdose treatment and recovery services hard to find. While the government is investing heavily in treatment facilities, little is being done to support newly-sober people after they leave rehab.

In the true tradition of Dominican women, the Dominican Sisters of Peace are responding to this very modern need with an answer born of Christ’s love and informed by study and service. Beginning in 2019, in cooperation with the Hope Network, a group of pastors and lay persons of central Kentucky religious congregations, the St. Catharine Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Peace will become home to ten women recovering from the effects of opioid abuse.

Aptly named “One Bridge to Hope,” this new ministry is not a drug “treatment,” but rather, a much-needed “next step” for women who have been released from the nearby Marion County Detention Center.

“By the time these women come to us, they will have already completed the hard work of detox,” said Sr. Terry Wasinger, OP, one of the team that initiated support for the transitional housing concept for the St. Catharine Motherhouse. “What they need at this point in time is a secure, peaceful, and temptation-free environment in which to heal and regain their strength. They need a safe bridge to their new, drug-free life – and St. Catharine can be that bridge.”

Representatives from the Hope Network and The Dominican Sisters of Peace display the “lease payment” for the “One Bridge to Hope” space in Bertrand Hall.

“St. Catharine is blessed with an important resource – space,” says Sr. Barbara Sullivan, also part of the planning team. “We will be using the Bertrand Hall space previously used to house students from St. Catharine College for women learning a new lesson – how to live drug-free.”

The new facility will include a comfortable kitchen and living room for residents to share, as well as several meeting rooms. The women in the One Bridge to Hope program will take part in group and individual counseling to treat their addiction, family counseling, and training in life skills, parenting skills, and job skills, as well as daily Bible study and prayer groups.

“The goal is to help these women learn how to reintegrate into their families and support themselves emotionally, spiritually, and financially,” explains Sr. Terry. “We want them to be ready to succeed when they move on.”

While the initial “class” is expected to be about 10 women, renovations to Bertrand Hall could help the facility house as many as 40 women in the future.

“Renovations of Bertrand Hall are already underway,” says Sr. Barbara. “We are building out the first floor now, and with God’s grace, we will welcome our first women early in the new year.”

The Dominican Sisters of Peace respond to the needs of today’s broken world with love, hope, and peace. You can help us build a new bridge to hope for women in Kentucky by donating today.

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