Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:37

Hearty Meal Offered to Benefit Treatment for Alcoholism

SARATOGA SPRINGS – An innovative treatment facility in Brazil for alcoholic clergy, which was founded by Ballston Spa native Rev. William Tracy, will benefit from a Soup and Sandwich Night hosted by the Saratoga Knights of Columbus on Thursday, Oct. 5, at its 50 Pine Road location.

In 1981, the 88-year-old padre was just 52 when he laid the groundwork for The New Life Community in Curitiba, Brazil that has since saved the lives of legions of priests and others who—like himself—had become addicted to alcohol.

In the early days, Tracy was shy about discussing the journey that led him to establish the pioneering mission. That changed when the Ballston Spa High School Class of 1946 alum realized he could not expect people in his American hometown to care about his foreign mission unless he came clean about the reasons he decided to make it his life’s work.

The multi-tiered treatment center, overseen by Father Tracy in conjunction with Sister Irma Terezinha de Jesus Dias, DM, includes a chapel with a view of the city park, an office, a dining room and six spacious dormitories with five beds each.

Assisting the American priest and South American nun are additional psychologists, physicians, some former patients and volunteers from Alcoholics Anonymous. Thus far, the facility has helped several hundred members of the clergy (seminarians and nuns as well as priests) plus hundreds of lay individuals.

“The greatest proof in my life that God really loves me is that I am sober today and free from the living death of active alcoholism. I am grateful that what for 20 years had been my greatest shame has been transformed into the precious gift of helping other alcoholics on the road to recovery,” said Father Tracy, who took the first steps to sobriety in 1978.

Saratoga Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Tom Gurka, Sr. said Council 246 considers it an honor to continue its longstanding tradition of supporting The New Life Community.

“We are thankful to Father Tracy for his ministry and love of the Lord,” said Gurka. “Our long association with Father Tracy has been a blessing for our Council and we consider it an honor to give him our support at our October 5 fundraiser.”

Former Ballston Spa Middle School Principal and Past Grand Knight Stephen R. Toussaint said Tracy “has long been an inspiration and support to others, not only in his priestly ministry, but also in his founding and sustained direction of a recovery program for priests and other religious persons in their fight against substance addiction in Brazil.”                  

“Father Bill is a role model to us all,” Toussaint added. “His personal brand of kindness, sense of humor, positive outlook and most importantly his faith provide all with a sense of the importance of caring for the well-being of others. We are encouraged by his determination and his spirit of hope in the face of many obstacles of daily life. We consider it an honor to give him our support.”

Menu offerings at the 4:30 to 6 p.m. benefit include roast beef, turkey or corned beef sandwiches accompanied by Navy bean with smoked ham soup. The cost of meals, which will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, are $10 for adults and $6 for children six to 12. Those under age six dine for free.

For more information, call 518-584-8547.

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