In 1992 Sr. Attracta Canny and Sr. Dolores Duggan, both Mercy Sisters, from their personal and professional experiences as teachers, social workers and addiction counselors, saw the need for a residential treatment centre in the West and North West to help people and families who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsive gambling.
They began to search for a suitable building and location. Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Flynn, Bishop of Achonry, was approached with the proposal, as he had recently purchased the Sisters of Charity Convent in Foxford Co Mayo. After some time, research and consultation, he offered the Convent as the location for the new unit. Foxford was ideally situated in the Achonry Diocese straddling the Dioceses of Killala and Tuam.
A Board of Management, with representatives from the three Western Dioceses, all bringing with them vast knowledge and experience, was established in 1992. In a way Hope House was our first provincial project!
In March 1993, planning permission was sought to renovate the building. Fundraising then began. Renovation work to the extent of £150,000 was commenced in May 1993 and completed in September 1993. The doors of Hope House were opened to the first resident on 14th September 1993.
At Hope House we are very aware that the first message we communicate to people is through the surroundings they find themselves in. Hope House is warmly and beautifully decorated and designed, offering the message of dignity and respect.
Our garden of Hope which stands on an acre of ground is the Gateway to the Beyond, a serene place of colour and beauty, filled with the sound of water and wild birds. At the end of the garden stand mature trees with bog oak reminding us of our roots and heritage, while the newly planted Eucalyptus, Magnolia, Japanese Maple and Cherry trees blend in beautifully. The majesty and mystery of Mother Nature fill all who linger in the garden with hope, vitality and inspiration. Hope House treatment centre is designed to help individuals and their families recover from addictions, alcohol, drugs, gambling and other addictions and regain control of their lives.
Addiction is a chronic, progressive illness which can be fatal. It has devastating effects on the person, the family, work and society at large. Addiction can be seen as a search for the beyond, a seeking of something more, a longing for a taste of Heaven
In the words of Catherine McAuley “God can bend and change and form and reform any of his creatures to fit them for the purpose he designs”
Our aim in Hope House is to provide a sacred space where each individual can get in touch with their God, connect again with their better selves and nurture that inner core of their being. Our hope is that it will be their gateway to the beyond and help meet the spiritual emptiness that contributes to many of the problems of the modern world, especially addiction, suicide and self harm, to mention but a few.
“There are three things the poor prize more highly than gold, though they cost the donor nothing. Among these are, the kind word, the gentle compassionate look and the patient hearing of their sorrows” These words of Catherine McAuley are still relevant today.
Hope House provides a comprehensive addiction programme, where people are treated with dignity and respect. This is a drug-free model, using 12 Step work as its foundation. It is a tested programme of recovery based on personal experience and statistical data. It is a two year treatment programme beginning with a 30 day residential treatment in a drug free environment where a resident begins a life-long effort to remain free from Alcohol/Drugs/Gambling and learns to cope with everyday stress and strain without mood altering chemicals and behaviors, thus providing him/her with a better quality of life.
Statistics indicate that up to 66% make a full recovery enabling them to return and function in their community. To date over two thousand people have received residential treatment. There is an average of about twelve residents per group, and with seven counsellors this keeps the ratio at one counsellor to two residents, which was the target from the start. This provides the opportunity for intensive therapy.
Following treatment an aftercare programme is provided for each resident and his/her partner/spouse which involves attendance at weekly group sessions over a 2 year period. This aspect of treatment is essential to facilitating the necessary adjustments to living that are part of early recovery. Presently there are twenty one Aftercare Groups each week. There are thirteen groups in Foxford, Co Mayo, two in Tuam Co Galway, two in Galway City, one in Sligo town, two in Longford Town and one in Stranorlar, Co Donegal.
Addiction is a family illness. Everyone in the family is affected, therefore the whole family is in need of help. Hope House offers a programme designed for family members and concerned persons who have been affected by addiction. It provides an outpatient family programme which family members attend while the addicted person is in treatment. Family members who are still living with active addiction also attend. To date well in excess of two thousand families have participated in this programme. We also offer a residential family programme where family members take time for themselves and learn to live in a more constructive way and care for themselves thus improving the quality of their own lives.
Animated by the Gospel and Catherine McAuley’s passion for the promotion of the dignity of people, particularly the marginalized and the up-building of the Family – if Catherine was with us today, one of the ministries she would have her heart in would be with those individuals and their families burdened with addiction.
Attracta Canny rsm and Dolores Duggan rsm