Nina Marie Corona, who is scheduled to present a five-week program on addiction titled “We Thirst: Christian Reflections on Addiction” at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, 222 N. 17th Street in Philadelphia beginning July 24, came into the field of spiritual direction almost by accident.
Married to her husband Mark and mother of two adult daughters Mia and Jenna with a grandson Ryder, Nina is a member of St. Jane de Chantel Parish in Easton, Diocese of Allentown.
“I actually had a business,” she explained. Although she is also a trained artist, that was for pleasure. Her previous business was much more mundane. “My grandmother, my Nana, had a very good recipe for making rice pudding,” she said. “It was so good I started manufacturing it at home and I was in over 200 stores in 12 states. I was making about 800 pounds a day.”
She was also a devout churchgoer, and it was in 2009 while on a retreat that she sensed a call to do something more. She went back to school for her B.A. then went on to Loyola University for a Master of Arts in Spirituality degree and is currently pursuing a doctorate in ministry at Fordham.
It was her studies at Loyola that really put her on a new career path. As part of her degree requirement she had to craft a spiritual program and give a presentation of it somewhere. At the time she was also doing research into alcohol and addiction, because a member of her family was struggling with addiction.
Because of that concern she came up with four sessions, each with a different theme: Biology, Psychology, Sociology and Spirituality, all around the issue of addictions. Through a friend who was a religious sister, she was able to give it as a presentation at the St. Francis Center for Renewal in Bethlehem.
About 25 people attended that first presentation, and Corona was shocked by how many came up to her afterwards to tell her how healing and helpful the presentation was to them.
“It was never a plan, it was just a school project,” she said. But because of the response she was also convinced it was the Holy Spirit working through her, and assisted by her husband who is her greatest supporter, an entire new career opened up to her.
First it was by word of mouth; those attending the sessions were recommending them to friends.
“People come up to me and tell me how it helped them or their family,” Corona said. “At the series we get an average of 30 people but as high as 80. There is nothing magical about it, but it allows people to deal with their situation, or the situation of a loved one.”
Part of the challenge in dealing with addictions is those who have them and their loved ones often don’t want to talk about it because of the stigma attached. They don’t want others to see they have a problem.
“We are trying to change that,” Corona said. “As Church we should be there to help one another. Addiction is addiction because of biological makeup, it is not a personal failing. There are substances that are addictive and we all are subject to it.”
At this time the program has five two-hour conferences: Biology, Psychology, Family, Spirituality, Action.
In addition to conducting the popular We Thirst conferences, Corona is also the founding director of AFIRE (Active Faith Implementing Relief in the Epidemic) and has authored and taught several spirituality courses at Villanova University. She is also a presenter in the Matt Talbot Movement which deals with alcohol addiction.
We Thirst: Christian Reflections on Addiction will be held on the 13th floor of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center on five consecutive Wednesdays. The series is sponsored by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services and the Office for the New Evangelization.
The total cost for all five conferences is $20 per person with all proceeds going to Mercy Hospice. Limited free parking is available on site. For more information and to RSVP visit the We Thirst website.
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