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Father Harold Rahm receives award from the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities

When Father Harold J. Rahm received the coveted Harry Sholl Award at the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities 23rd World Conference on September 2 in New York, one of the first things he mentioned in his acceptance speech was the surprise visit of the current WFTC president to his ranch in 1978.
 
"I was called from Brasilia by a priest who wished to visit out center, and I told him I would pick him up at the airport.  On my part this was just an act of charity."
 
Little did he know but Monsignor O'Brien was visiting him from New York to speak to him about a new concept that was making a splash all across the world in the treatment of alcoholics and other drug addicts - therapeutic communities. 
 
But, unbeknown to him, Father Rahm had already been operating a therapeutic community just outside of the second largest city in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in Campinas for a little under a year.  He just didn't know that that was what it was called.  Monsignor O'Brien provided him with a name for what he was doing.
 
Now TCs, as they are known, are a mainstay of the recuperation process and perhaps the best avenue to turn to when addiction has completely taken its hold on a person.
 
The meeting between the two priests provided the first bridge to communication between Latin America and the United States regarding TCs and, in the next several years, extended this connection to the numerous similar communities that were forming all over the world. 
 
On Friday, at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, O'Brien was there to present Father Rahm with yet another award recognizing his success in the field.  Before a crowd of about 500 international leaders in the field, O'Brien commented, "Father Rahm is known around the world as Father Harold.  He is the President of the Brazilian Therapeutic Communities and truly a miracle worker.  He has devoted himself to healing people with addictions, since attending the seminary.  When Father Harold went to Brazil in 1964, there were few services for dealing with addiction, and certainly no formalized program.  Father Rahm has been instrumental in founding a number of centers in Brazil, including Our Lord's Ranch in Campinas and Our Lady of Guadalupe Prevention and Assistance Center for female addicts.  Along the way, he has authored 24 books and received numerous awards from the Brazilian government and many community groups.  Father Rahm was also instrumental in founding a successful street children apostolate in Campinas."
 
As if this weren't enough to try to fit on a curriculum vitae, Father Rahm has also assisted in founding over 2,000 therapeutic communities in Brazil and also took the ideas of Tough Love and created a Brazilian version of the same.  Today, Amor Exigente, "Tough Love" in Portuguese, comprises more than 1,500 communities.  Naturally, Father Harold claims only to be only the "initiating force of these movements," as he says many other wonderful Brazilians carry out his ideas. 
 
For the past three years, the Padre has joined together some sixty religious traditions with other secular philanthropic organizations, including Masons, Rotarians, Lions' and other civic organizations in an endeavor, through spiritual initiative, to prevent the abuse of alcohol and other drugs so that the problem may be solved before it arises.  According to Father Rahm, this spiritual work is most effective in the prevention of addicts returning to the alcoholic and drug world.
 
"True science and correct religion go hand-in-hand," Father Rahm said.  He says he "leaves to the professionals the scientific part and endeavors personally to accentuate the spiritual life," adding that he follows especially the example of Ignatius of Loyola. 
 
Father Harold believes that work is also a fundamental factor in curing alcoholics and other drugs addicts.  Every day he works in the field for about two hours with his residents.
 
In his acceptance speech, Father Rahm attributed his success to the "good work of his staff."
 
John M. Keller is a freelance journalist working in New York and Latin America.  This article may be re-distributed and re-printed as many times as necessary and without need to secure permission for copyright.