Ignatian Spirituality Project’s day-long retreats co-facilitated by Harmony, Hope & Healing provide an intense experience each month of sharing and song. For one longtime volunteer, it’s like a monthly spiritual tune-up. “I can’t imagine getting more at peace,” says LaTanya Simpson.
Looking back, LaTanya Simpson, 51, says trouble between her parents got her started drinking to fit in with others when she was just 13. She did well in school, then built a good career. But between addiction and downsizing at her employer, she eventually found herself living at the YMCA in her late 40s.
“I lived in a dark world,” she recalls now. “My only escape was drugs and alcohol.” That was when she started to see the appeal of, as she puts it, a life of crime. Now she shakes her head when she remembers: “Can you imagine? I was arrested for retail theft at the age of 48.”
The judge sentenced Simpson to probation for the offense. But she begged him to send her to treatment instead so she could face up to her problems. Through Sister House recovery home, Simpson started coming to monthly, day-long retreats Harmony, Hope & Healing co-hosts and facilitates with Ignatian Spirituality Project.
While she’s not a churchgoing person, Simpson says, that’s the closest feeling in her experience to what she gets from the retreats. “I found home [here],” she says. “I can’t hold a note, but I love the singing, dancing, and spiritual atmosphere…. I can’t imagine getting more uplifted or being more at peace.”
Now, after starting a job in February as client service coordinator at Career Transitions Center--coincidentally in the same building where Harmony Hope & Healing has our office and co-hosts ISP retreats--things are looking up, she says.
Ignatian Spirituality Project has been running these and similar retreats in cities across the country, growing each year since its founding in 2000 by Father Bill Creed.
Martin Kelliher is a volunteer with the program who says it has been part of his own recovery since Father Creed invited him to help.
“I tend to become [more] other centered and less self-centered” at ISP retreats, Kelliher says. “What I get here each month, is a spiritual tune-up.”