July 6, 2015

Sister Ignatia Gavin, CSA honored at Alcoholic Anonymous International Assembly

More than 85,000 people gathered July 2nd – 5th, 2015, at the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) International Assembly in Atlanta. There, Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, accepted the 35 millionth copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous on behalf of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in memory of Sister Ignatia Gavin, CSA, who was commonly referred to as the “angel of Alcoholics Anonymous.” The convention marked AA’s 80th anniversary.

Sister Ignatia of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine was director of admitting at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, in the 1930s. She started working with Doctor Bob, a co-founder of AA, in the late 1930s to hospitalize alcoholics for detoxification at the hospital, well before alcoholism was recognized as a disease needing treatment. Wherever she could find room, including space that had been used to store flowers for patients, she placed alcoholic patients for care. She moved to St. Vincent Charity Hospital (now St. Vincent Charity Medical Center) in Cleveland in 1952 and started Rosary Hall for the same purpose of treating alcoholism.

“Alcoholism at the time was considered a social malady, but Sister Ignatia and the founders of AA saw the human suffering and took action. It was overwhelming and humbling to accept the honor from AA on her behalf,” said Sister Judith Ann, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and chair of the public juridic person of the Sisters of Charity Health System. Sister Theresa Bontempo, CSA, accompanied Sister Judith Ann to the 2015 AA convention where Sister Ignatia was honored. Sister Judith Ann and Sister Theresa's participation in the convention was covered in the news by Catholic Health World. 

Rosary Hall, since its opening in 1952, has welcomed more than 62,000 patients seeking addiction treatment through its doors. It was the first hospital-based treatment program designed to treat alcoholism. Today Rosary Hall includes a 17-bed inpatient detoxification unit, intensive outpatient program, individualized counseling, after-care, family programs, case-managed transition into community and support networks and medication-assisted treatment. Annually it treats about 1,500 patients. Located in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Rosary Hall offers convenient access to care for those living and working in the city as well as its surrounding suburbs.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, and the Sisters of Charity Health System is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. 

While Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious organization, and is not affiliated with any particular faith or belief system, it has enjoyed wonderful cooperative relationships since its earliest days with spiritual leaders from many backgrounds.

 

Image 1: Sister Ignatia Gavin, CSA, Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

Image 2: Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA; Sister Theresa Bontempo, CSA; and Terry Bedient. Photo courtesy of A.A.W.S. Inc.

Image 3: Sister Theresa Bontempo, CSA; and Terry Bedient. Photo courtesy of A.A.W.S. Inc.

   

 

 

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