Hillbilly heroin in my parish. What to do for evangelization? Ideas?

oxycodone

There are 8,600 total residents in Graham County. Subtract a thousand or so for the tiny tots, another few thousand for the 1/2 year cabin dwellers paying tax on their properties, another few thousand for those who are clean from drugs altogether, another thousand or so who have legitimate paliative needs, leaving us with, say, 4,300 or so. How’s my math? Now, divide that into 885,800 opioids prescribed for Graham County last year. That’s prescribed, mind you. The drug industry, besides the meth labs and heroin dealers (we’re behind the times here), is all about people taking prescription meds WITHOUT a prescription, buying the pills on the street, you know, cut with fentanyl, maybe a bit of heroin. Besides the open and protected moonshining (“dry county” laws protect the industry), the economy is all about drugs. We get needles in our church parking lot. Few use needles (its relatively more difficult). The irony is, people come here to get away from the drugs. Some pain relief is legitimate of course, even life saving, necessary. I know that.

If you look up a graph of this kind of drug use, you’ll see it absolutely skyrocketed after 2008, when people fell for the absolute entitlement brainwashing and subsequent depression and low self-esteem. It doesn’t help when a percentage of the backwater churches scream out that everybody is going to hell no matter what because that’s what’s in the Bible. But it’s not. That’s blasphemy. Jesus didn’t die for nothing. Sometimes I think that some “ministers” are simply political operatives who dumb people down and turn them away from religion as if this were their only purpose in life. They’re not political operatives, but, wow, you’d be tempted to think ole George Soros had a mountain retreat here. Oh wait! (I don’t know). It’s just that, I mean, can anyone be that mean and that ignorant of what’s in the Bible? I feel so sorry for them. They are truly sheep without a shepherd. But they are all my parish in a way, right? I’m to want to share with them the greatest love of my life, the Lord Jesus, right?

For years, decades really, I’ve been ruminating about evangelization in just such a place as this. I got a call just the other day which may coincide with this rumination, indeed, with what I see as the great need in this area. Anyway, do you have any ideas? Don’t think that the Legion of Mary hasn’t already bloodied their knuckles knocking on EVERY single door in the county! Jesus is working on people. And they are chomping at the bit wanting to know more. But we have to make it easy for them to learn. To be Catholic in this area is not at all politically correct. Prison ministry is one way. Visiting the sick and shut-ins another. O.K. But… Also, I’ve got swaths of two other counties.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Hillbilly heroin in my parish. What to do for evangelization? Ideas?

  1. Stephen.Round.

    Early-Copy that will get back to you.All the best.

  2. sanfelipe007

    God bless you, Father. I got nuthin’ but random thoughts:

    Sodom and Gomorrah
    Nineveh
    St. Francis and the Sultan
    http://www.academia.edu/1833470/The_Friar_and_the_Sultan_Francis_of_Assisi_s_Mission_to_Egypt

  3. sanfelipe007

    Apologies, this may be a better link:
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHISTORY/francsmuslm.htm

  4. monicaharris58

    Invite some seminarians, and see if you can start a young men’s prayer group. It’s all about the men and word-of-mouth.

  5. Here is a paper that gives a reason other than entitlement. The most informative is the section entitled “THE SHARP RISE IN PRESCRIPTION OPIOID CONSUMPTION” :
    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122957

    I also was not able to find a link to NO’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program as described on CDC’s website:
    https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdmp/index.html

    For evangelization, I went to the Graham County website, and found a link to churches. Apparently the only denomination is Methodist?
    http://www.grahamcounty.net/GCHistory/09-churchhistory/churchhistory.htm

  6. elizdelphi

    Find some who have have been, there, done that, gotten clean and now want to bring the message of freedom in Christ to others. Invest in them with spiritual direction, affirmation, encouragement and support and they may have ideas about how to reach addicts and may be the ones most motivated.

    At my homeless volunteer job we get a certain portion of addicts, I can recall one man who came in accompanying someone else one time whose very body told a story. He had big obvious healed slash marks on his wrists from a suicide attempt, all manner of needle scars up and down both arms and other signs of healed injuries and having been through extremes. He had a t-shirt on that read something like: “this is what you will look like too if you do heroin, so don’t.” (I don’t recall what it actually said, but that was the take-away message). Verbally he had the same kind of message of having been to hell and back–and now choosing life. That man was the most vivid anti-drug message I ever saw. Even just his body was a billboard against drugs.

    It’s powerful to meet someone who cheated death (…or rose from the dead…). When I was teaching 1st Confession class this week I mentioned killing unborn babies is murder (little kids are almost universally shocked at the very idea), and one small girl started telling me a story about how some people with signs were protesting that abortion is wrong and those people told her mom about that, I said yes that is very good that they stand up for babies, we all should, and the little girl agreed and continued that it led her mom to decide not to do that to her. I was astonished at this survivor’s great witness and I asked her if I could hug her for being alive, which she agreed to (does this upset the NCRRG/VIRTUUS?). Also I gave her an Our Lady of Guadalupe holy card.

  7. A few years ago one of the local Christian churches had a very effective evangelization campaign – ( I wish the RC church had thought of it) They ties little pouches of microwave popcorn to the door knobs of the local homes with a note – Please POP IN and gave their address and time of services. Kind of corny ( no pun intended) but my neighbor whose church ran this program said it yielded a good return. Since we cannot invite people off the streets to participation at mass, maybe an invitation to Christ’s Life program or a socializing/chat time meeting would work and then the interested people could join RCIA.

  8. elizdelphi

    If you haven’t read it yet, you may be interested in this April 2017 First Things article on precisely this subject: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2017/04/american-carnage

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