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Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies

iTHIRST Director Publishes Guide

Keaton Douglas, the creator and executive director of iTHIRST

Keaton Douglas, the creator and executive director of the iTHIRST initiative of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity

Keaton Douglas, the creator and executive director of the iTHIRST initiative of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, has published The Road to Hope: Responding to the Crisis of Addiction.

Written with Lindsay Schlegel, the book, much like iTHIRST ("The Healing Initiative—Recovery, Spirituality, and Twelve Steps”), focuses on the crucial role that clergy and church members can play in the battle against addiction – as well as the unfathomable suffering that invariably accompanies it.

Released on April 10, 2023 the book has sold briskly and is already on its second printing.

"The Road to Hope serves as a guidebook, showing how we can come together as members of a community of faith to offer real solutions for confronting addiction's wide-reaching effects in our neighborhoods, our parishes and our homes,” said Douglas. “This book is borne from the work we have done creating iTHIRST Spiritual Companions, who now serve in parishes, hospitals, schools, treatment facilities, correctional facilities and on six Native American reservations. There are iTHIRST Spiritual Companions now in 29 states, and everywhere from Dublin, Ireland to Pago Pago, American Samoa. This book is the next step in bringing practical solutions and providing the spiritual healing which is a necessary dimension of wellness and recovery."

The iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship Certification Training program is academically certified and offered through Seton Hall University’s Office of Continuing University Education and Professional Studies. Classes run online and typically meet two evenings a week for eight weeks (new cohort starts August 22).

Assistant Provost and Dean of Continuing Education and Professional Studies at Seton Hall University Mary Kate Naatus noted, "The iTHIRST training and recovery programs have spread quickly and with great impact – but so has the crisis of addiction, and this book will put the program into more hands more quickly. And with addiction, time is of the essence."

Douglas agreed, "Those struggling with addiction, or their loved ones, should be able to visit any church or parish and find someone to accompany them on this journey – a pilgrimage really – with spiritual consolation and recovery resources. This book provides a comprehensive pastoral approach in every sense of the word as we learn to shepherd the afflicted and their families – demonstrating that we as a community of faith can not and will not ignore the crisis of addiction -- in fact, we have a solution for it."

Peer reviewed by licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselors, the book has been widely endorsed by members of academia, religious organizations and licensed therapists including:

"It is likely that most of us know someone who will be helped by this book, which assures us that that addiction does not have to have the final word, that there is a road to hope."
- Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston

"The oscillation between Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching, personal narrative, and clinical research fills a distinct need amidst approaches that view addiction in either purely secular terms or purely spiritual ones. The theological care exhibited by Douglas and Schlegel exudes solutions while simultaneously elevating the centrality of the human dignity of those impacted by addiction."
- Marty Tomszak, professor of theology, Valparaiso University and author

“The Road to Hope challenges the many misconceptions and the stigma surrounding addictions through real-life stories, Church teaching, and a compassionate tone. A must-read for anyone seeking to better understand the cycle of addiction from a Catholic worldview.”
- Julia Hogan-Werner, licensed therapist and author

About Keaton Douglas
Keaton Douglas spearheads Seton Hall University’s iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship Certification Training program and is a consultant, educator, counselor and frequent guest speaker in the field of addiction and recovery, particularly as it pertains to the interface of Catholic spirituality and recovery.

Keaton Douglas, the Executive Director of the iTHIRST Initiative, a Mission of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, is a consultant, educator, counselor, and frequent guest speaker in the field of addiction and recovery, particularly as it pertains to the interface of Catholic spirituality and recovery. She is the creator of the iTHIRST Initiative - a comprehensive program which focuses on spirituality in the prevention, treatment, and aftercare of those suffering from substance use disorders and their families. She is the creator of the iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship (ITSC) Training, faith -based formation which instructs lay leaders and clergy on the spiritual dimension of addiction/recovery. The iTHIRST curriculum is academically certified through Seton Hall University and is taught there on a continual basis through their Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department, attracting students from all over the Unites States and abroad. Today, certified iTHIRST Spiritual Companions number more than two hundred, and are bringing spiritual consolation and recovery resource information to individuals in Ireland, in 29 States, and as far as Pago Pago, American Samoa. iTHIRST Spiritual Companions serve the needs of those on six Native American Reservations, including the Arapaho and Shoshone in Riverton, WY, the Zuni and Pueblano in Santa Fe, NM, the Yaqui in Tucson, AZ, and the Ramapough in NY. iTHIRST Spiritual Companions are working in parishes, Catholic schools and hospitals, treatment facilities, correctional facilities, and re-entry programs from coast to coast and beyond!

Keaton is a regular contributor for faith-based radio stations, where she discusses issues on forgiveness, healing, and addiction. She has appeared on “Conversations with Cardinal Dolan,” being interviewed by Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York on the Catholic Church’s response to the Opioid Crisis. She has been part of the “70 x 7 Forgiveness Retreats” offered by Seton Hall University, and has twice appeared with Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. She has recently delivered a workshop on “Grace and Healing: The Role of Faith in Posttraumatic Growth,” for the Addiction & Faith Conference in Minneapolis, MN. This year she will be a keynote speaker at that same conference, delivering a talk entitled, "Mutually Wounded, Mutually Healed: The Role of Compassion and the Commonality of Brokenness in Serving those Suffering from Addictions"

Since 2014 Keaton and her New Jersey team have brought non-denominational spirituality sessions to clients at Straight and Narrow, Turning Point, Eva’s Village, CURA, Freedom House, and Hendricks House, and have hosted “Spirituality and 12 Step” Retreats for them as well, at their Winter Wheat Retreat Center in Stirling, NJ. She has overseen and been ‘housemother’ for residents of three sober living homes run by the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity.

Recently, in promotion of her book, The Road to Hope: Responding to the Crisis of Addiction, written with co-author, Lindsay Schlegel, Keaton has appeared on the following media outlets:

Radio Programs:

  • Busted Halo with Fr. Dave Dwyer, The Catholic Channel, SiriusXM Channel 129
  • Kresta in the Afternoon, EWTN/AveMaria Radio
  • Morning Air with John Morales, Relevant Radio


  • How They Love Mary with Fr. Edward Looney
  • Say Yes to Holiness with Christine Semmens
  • Girlfriends with Danielle Bean
  • Journeys in Faith with Anne DeSantis
  • Letters to Women with Chloe Langr


  • CFN Live

Before working in the field of addiction and recovery, Keaton enjoyed a successful career as a singer and entertainer, performing at two Presidential Inaugural Balls and countless other venues throughout the nation. She had spent many years as a music educator and voice and performance coach. She also spent some time on Wall Street, as an Assistant Vice President of Marketing for a major financial institution, creating and implementing the annual budgets, and collaborating with the creative team to develop financial product strategies.

Keaton holds a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C., and an M.A. in Theology from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall. She is also a CCAR (Connecticut Community Addiction Recovery) Recovery Coach.

Keaton has one grown son, Michael, and she and her husband, Tom, live on a small horse farm in Sussex County, New Jersey.

Her book, The Road to Hope: Responding to the Crisis of Addiction, was published by Our Sunday Visitor and is available now.

Categories: Education, Faith and Service

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