Awardee Devoted Her Ministry to Helping Women Religious Overcome Substance Abuse

Sister Therese Golden

Therese Golden, OP, spent more than 30 years working with women religious in substance abuse programs. In January, Sister Therese will be recognized for her achievements when she receives the Sister Ignatia Gavin Award, named after the pioneering nun who helped to initiate medical treatment for alcoholics in Akron, Ohio. The award will be presented in Savannah, Georgia, at a banquet sponsored by Guest House, Inc. and the National Catholic Council on Alcoholism and Related Drug Problems.

The award is especially noteworthy, not only because it is being bestowed upon Sister Therese, but also because it's the first time a woman will be the recipient. "This is the first time they are recognizing that women religious can have this disease just like anybody else," Sister Therese noted. Past awardees had always been men who provided treatment and care to priests, deacons, brothers, and seminarians suffering from alcoholism and other chemical dependencies.

Guest House, located in Lake Orion, Michigan, has offered a substance abuse program for clergy and men religious since 1956. Sister Therese was asked to develop and implement a program for women religious that began in January 1994. Previously, she served as the Coordinator of Addiction Services to Religious Communities at Parkside Medical Services, an affiliate of the Lutheran General Healthcare System in Park Ridge, Illinois. Sister Therese started at Lutheran in 1968, and in the course of her ministry, traveled all over the world helping women religious get the treatment they needed.

Sister Therese said she is pleased to receive the Sister Ignatia Gavin Award, but is quick to point out that the award honors more than just her. It also pays tribute to all the women religious "who are brave and courageous enough to come forward and say that they need help with their addictions."