February 20, 2012
LAUREEN MCMAHON
THE B.C. CATHOLIC

VANCOUVER – Christ can change the lives of women caught in the enslavement of addictions, says Sharon Dobin, director of Sancta Maria House.

"Sancta Maria for me has the three most crucial things needed to recover: God, healing, and the 12-step program. I have been given peace and forgiveness and I can laugh again and for that I am truly grateful," said a former resident.

The Sancta Maria House residency program offers a respite from the world for those willing to change their lifestyle and habits so recovery is possible, Dobin said in an interview.

The nine women now in the program each receive one-on-one support from counsellors while a physician specializing in addictions is available for home visits. Residents commit to staying at least six months.

Those in the program are ready to embrace healing as a spiritual experience, said Dobin.

"The spiritual component is essential because we know that, if Christ is at the centre, conversion will happen and lives will change."

After stabilizing, residents are encouraged to move into an education program, find a job or do volunteer work.

Each resident must complete their share of the household chores, Dobin said.

The process is enhanced, she added, by the women working together to create things that are useful and beautiful. "Our Creative Hands program builds on their strengths and showcases their gifts and talents."

Residents create greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries, First Communion, etc., for the school and parish.

The jewellery has been a big hit with the women, Dobin explained, because the sparkly earrings, rosary bracelets, and other items are put into gift bags for working girls in the Downtown Eastside.

The bags are handed out by Agape Street Ministry, directed by Dobin's husband Dan.

"It's wonderful for our residents to give back to others by contributing to the gift bags," said Dobin.

Sancta Maria House is just a few steps from a church so residents can attend daily Mass.