The Caritas program began in or around 1980 with a distraught mother who was searching for help for her drug addicted son. Her desperation and determination led her to call her local priest, Fr. Gianni Carparelli, whom in turn made it his mission to find proper assistance for that mother and the many others that he later met.
He began by organizing a support group, consisting of concerned parents. The group would meet on a weekly basis to discuss the problems as they pertained to their immediate situations as well as the problems affecting society. In addition to support groups, he began to research programs in other countries. In doing so, he learned that much of Europe had adopted a Therapeutic Community approach which, unbeknownst to him, had already existed in parts of the U.S. for approximately 20 years.
He returned to his country of origin and began to nurture relationships with several of the therapeutic communities scattered throughout the different regions of Italy. After personally investigating each community, he began referring Canadians in need to Italy.
Back in Canada, he continued with weekly support group meetings for family members and expanded the weekly meetings to include a group for addicts searching for help. He also began a day program.
As the Canadians began returning from Italy (upon completion of their programs), they were recruited to work for Caritas. Their experiences in a therapeutic community were used to shape the Caritas residential program and the Caritas Therapeutic Community.
Today, Caritas, a member of the Therapeutic Communities of America, continues to operate its mission based on the same fundamentals that were born into the original Therapeutic Communities.
Drug addiction is an illness that wounds the body, the mind and the spirit. It’s a substance that blurs personality and wipes out will, in a process that also contaminates the family and society around the addict. Addiction is a disease of life itself.
Father Gianni Carparelli