Seton Hall's Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies, in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Newark, will soon launch the next cohort of its online iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship Certification Training Program, which empowers students to answer the Church's call to be a beacon of hope to those suffering from addiction. The program will run again April 13 through June 8, with classes held online every Tuesday and Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Please note, no class will be held on Tuesday, June 1.)
Please visit the iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship Certification Training Program page to register.
The iTHIRST Program seeks to provide a spiritual remedy for the desolation, abandonment and guilt that are all "hallmarks" of the addicted life through specialized programs that students are trained to develop and implement. The iTHIRST Program also aims to provide support for treatment facilities and those incarcerated, and to develop an aftercare community for the afflicted and their families. Students enrolled in the program will offer spiritual consolation and recovery resource information to the afflicted and their families and will work with their pastors to develop or supplement a recovery ministry that fits the needs of their parishes. Upon completion, they will be academically certified through both iTHIRST and Seton Hall University and will receive 4.8 Continuing Education Units.
The program is led by Keaton Douglas, alumna of Seton Hall's Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and founder and executive director of the iTHIRST initiative, which is an acronym for "The Healing Initiative—Recovery, Spirituality and Twelve steps." The initiative seeks to give people in recovery the spiritual tools they need to stay clean and lead the faith-based fight against substance-use disorders, especially opioid addiction. The iTHIRST curriculum has been taught in the Archdiocese of Boston at the behest of Cardinal O'Malley's Opioid Task Force; to seminarians in Heredia, Costa Rica; and at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, New Jersey.
Douglas is also a founding member of NJ-DART, the New Jersey Diocesan Addiction and Recovery Taskforce. Having served as the program coordinator for the Recovery Ministry at the Shrine of St. Joseph since December 2016, part of her work has involved teaching Sacred Scripture and 12-Step programs, overseeing the Retreat Program, and working with and training volunteers. She had previously been a member of the Recovery Team there at The Shrine since 2014. Speaking several times a week at Straight and Narrow and at Turning Point, treatment facilities in Paterson, New Jersey, Keaton is on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, helping others in their personal spiritual development.
Additionally, Douglas serves as 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. Before working in the field of addiction and recovery, she enjoyed a successful career as a singer and entertainer, performing at two Presidential Inaugural Balls and countless other venues throughout the nation.
"Now is a critical time to become involved in this ministry," says Douglas. "Overdose rates nationally are up 30-40% this year, and funds earmarked for recovery programs have been diverted to COVID-19-related needs. We as a church have an opportunity and responsibility to help fill in the gaps."
About the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies: Continuing Education offers a wealth of opportunities for those who wish to enhance their education, expand their skillset or pursue new interests. The Division provides superior programs and training in cutting-edge subject areas and trending topics, either on campus, off-site or online. Continuing Education, with its diverse offerings of credit, non-credit, degree, professional certificate and training programs, helps job-seekers and truth-seekers alike to learn what works to enhance their lives, improve the world and achieve success in their careers. Its programs are taught by distinguished University professors and leading practitioners in the field. Schedules are flexible and designed for the working professional or the adult student with a busy life. The Division also offers corporate and small business training, small group and independent learning.