Needing Help on All Sides: Counseling a Priest and a Family Through Tragedy

Fr. Makarios had to manage an unthinkable crisis: a young man from his Florida parish, under the influence of drugs was arrested and sentenced for the attempted murder of his own father. The tragedy rippled throughout his parish, damaging the sense of community that Fr. Makarios had been working to foster in his church. He felt unprepared to guide his parish through such an extreme, unusual situation.

Seeking the wisdom of experience, Fr. Makarios called OCPM. Fr. Stephen Powley, OCPM Director of Training and Spiritual Care, started coaching sessions with Fr. Makarios, offering support with both pastoral and logistical needs. At Fr. Makarios’ request, Fr. Stephen also held a counseling session with the parents who were not only dealing with being the victims of a crime but also the trauma of a child being sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

But it wasn’t just Fr. Makarios and the family that needed immediate help. At Fr. Makarios’s request, OCPM began corresponding with the son who was arrested and added him to the mailing list, sending him newsletters with daily readings from Scripture and the Church Fathers, icons he could hang in his cell, and most of all personalized letters to help him, too, through his long healing process.

By coaching Fr. Makarios, counseling the parents, and corresponding with the son, OCPM is tending to every side of this tragedy, as we aim to do with everyone who comes to us seeking help in and around the prison system. OCPM is simply giving space for the Lord to act and helping where we can; while the effects of this tragedy are still ongoing, we are hopeful for a fully restored community, based on the healing we’ve seen so far.

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