Summer is a time of revitalization and a chance to renew one’s spirit. The men of Christopher Place Employment Academy’s Class 33 had the opportunity to renew their spirits by participating in a three-day reflective retreat at Seneca Rocks in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forrest this summer. The trip was organized in partnership with the Hezekiah Movement, an organization that provides a spiritual approach to addiction recovery.

The men took advantage of the serene environment and spent three days reflecting on their lives and the journeys they are taking at Christopher Place. The retreat is designed to help Academy members become inspired by the beauty surrounding them and develop a plan for change in their lives. This type of spiritual transformation is just one of the many foundational aspects that the 18-month residential Employment Academy embodies.

Father Joseph McDonough, recovery counselor at Our Daily Bread Employment Center, has been instrumental in coordinating the retreats to Seneca Rocks over the past 10 years and says that, “the experiences have always been very positive.”

Each retreat focuses on common themes that guide the men’s reflections as they spend time alone with the scenery that surrounds them. Sharing, serenity and hope are just a few of the themes explored over the long weekend. From these common themes, the men wrestle with greater issues that might be impacting them individually. Each evening participants gather together to collectively share and respond to what they each have experienced.

Christopher Place Employment Academy takes on a holistic approach that focuses on the entire individual. Father Joe clearly recognizes that recovery from substance abuse is something that must be given the attention that it properly requires. “We need to hit the recovery aspect when men walk through the door. Recovery is something that is preemptive towards employability. As the demands of the current job market begin to weigh down on everyone, Christopher Place Employment Academy is doing everything possible to prepare its graduates for a successful journey into the job market and on a path towards self-sufficiency,” says Father Joe.