In an exclusive six-part series, CatholicPhilly.com explores the human, social and spiritual aspects of the opioid drug addiction crisis affecting the United States — especially in the area of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Learn how the Catholic Church is facing the crisis and how spiritual resources and pastoral hard work are offering a response of mercy for our communities.

Part One: Addicts find shelter, and mercy, in former city church
The former Ascension of Our Lord Church, closed and sold years ago, became a squalid stop for the city’s heroin addicts. But the ministers at Mother of Mercy House are lighting the path to recovery.

Part Two: How we got here: Ancient painkillers lead to new epidemic
Overdoses from legal opioid drugs and illegal heroin have formed a deadly health crisis in places like Philadelphia’s Kensington section, resulting in broken families and fractured communities.

Part Three: It’s ‘all hands on deck’ for addiction awareness in Bucks County
At St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Croydon, 100 participants including elected officials, law enforcement, health care providers and recovering addicts stressed the role of parishes in combating the nation’s drug epidemic.

Part Four: Is addiction sin or sickness? A complex and timely inquiry
Moral theologians offer guidance not only for people seeking healing in this national drug abuse emergency, but also for society and the world.

Part Five: Grays Ferry priest brings power of the sacraments to heal the addicted
Father Douglas McKay offers his Our House Ministries as a way to bring the healing grace of Christ to addicted people, as he’s been doing for 40 years.

Part Six: Catholic parents turn heartache of addiction into hope for others
There were no Catholic programs when two Philadelphia-area parents grappled with their children’s addictions. So they developed their own ministries, and now they are sharing the Catholic Church’s healing mission to deal with today’s leading health crisis.

Podcasts in this series:

Mother of Mercy House

Spirituality and Recovery

Addiction as Sin and Sickness

Our House Ministries

Catholic Parents Respond

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National news

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Bishops urge action to quell ‘ever-growing crisis’ of opioid addiction

Agencies scramble to curb explosion in U.S. opiate use

World news

Vancouver archbishop: Overdose crisis is ‘devastating families’

Church urges world to face drug abuse and related problems