PATERSON In its continuous effort to help those suffering from addiction, Straight and Narrow (S&N) here, an agency of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson, will soon open the doors to O’Connor Hall, which will serve as its new halfway house for men.
O’Connor Hall is named after the late Paulist Father Norman J. O’Connor, former executive director, who served those with addictions at S&N from 1979 to 2002. Under Father O’Connor’s leadership, S&N became the largest non-profit comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment and prevention agency in the state. During his tenure, S&N’s services grew to include the full continuum of care such as the detoxification program, residential treatment for men, women and adolescents, methadone treatment, an intoxicated driver resource center, outpatient and intensive outpatient, re-entry houses and work programs.
At the dedication of O’Connor Hall on March 31, Bishop Serratelli offered the invocation. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie shared remarks followed by a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony. Afterward, guests at the dedication were welcomed to tour O’Connor Hall, located on the second and third floors of 410 Straight St. here, which the Bishop blessed.
Guests at the dedication included members of the S&N board of trustees, state and local officials, and benefactors and staff of the agency. Also at the ceremony were clients of the men’s residential treatment at S&N, who met with the governor just before the dedication and shared their stories of addiction and the importance of treatment facilities like S&N.
Joe Duffy, president of diocesan Catholic Charities and executive director of S&N, welcomed the guests and said, “Thank you for honoring us with your presence today because it honors all the men who will continue to work on their sobriety. Your presence is a witness to the importance of halfway houses to those persons on the road to recovery.”
Duffy spoke about the S&N’s commitment to have a halfway house once again after the agency had to close a similar center 10 years ago. “With start up operational money from the state and drug court and a construction loan from Wells Fargo, O’Connor Hall was made possible. Today is a happy day with our continuum here to help those suffering from addiction is made whole.”
Following Duffy’s welcome, Bishop Serratelli said, “Today we unveil a new work of restoration for Straight and Narrow. Every human person has an irreplaceable worth as they come forth from the hands of God. Original sin, human failure, weakness, addiction, illness, at times conceals and hides that dignity. Here we work together — church and state — we put our resources together to restore that dignity. Every life has value, every person is a gift from God, no matter what their circumstance is.”
In his remarks, Governor Christie spoke about N.J.’s drug court program, whose mission is to stop the abuse of drugs and alcohol and related criminal activity. “Today is one of those moments where I can see and hear for myself just how highly affective drug court is,” he said.
The governor mentioned his earlier meeting with clients from S&N and their counselors and said, “Drug court and other programs like S&N provide a ray of hope for folks whose lives have become hopeless. This has given them a second chance in life and that’s an extraordinary gift. I’m proud we put into place landmark legislation that is making our drug court expand all over New Jersey.”
Mentioning the Bishop’s comments on the value of life, the governor said, “Every life is an individual gift from God. We need to stop making moral judgments on people who have fallen victim to the disease of drug and alcohol abuse. It is a disease. We need people to stop making moral judgments that they shouldn’t have tried it in the first place. Of course, we know that. And guess who else knows that? The men that I met this morning. Each and every one of them wishes they didn’t go down this road but they did. It’s important to calculate the effect these men will have on their families and on society when they return to their families as strong, passionate, productive men.”
In his closing remarks, Gov. Christie said, “Straight and Narrow is an inspiration. Even more inspirational are those who work here and the product they are turning out.”