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Thursday, September 28, 2023

‘You’re welcome to be yourself no matter where you are at:’ Pattie Kahler Finds Community at Recovering Connections Retreats

This is Part II of an ongoing series highlighting Catholic Charities Boston’s programs for those with a loved one affected by substance use disorder, or those who have lost a loved one to substance use disorder, in light of October being National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Pattie Kahler’s son Matthew was just 29 years old when he passed away after a long battle with substance use disorder, four years ago.

“He was deeply addicted,” said Pattie. “There was an early dependence on smoking pot in the throes of adolescence that worsened to opiates and heroin. As you can imagine, his journey was terribly difficult and often very frightening.”

“My son overdosed a minimum of 10 to 15 times before his death. With each survival, we were lulled into thinking God must have a greater purpose that he was revived again – quite miraculously. His stint at the last rehab was sadly short lived and Matthews’ quest to silence the pain, quietly unknowingly finished,” said Pattie. “It was a long-suffering problem.”

Pattie said Matt’s intelligence and his motivation to develop skills in his many areas of interest were often hijacked by his illness and the many failed attempts to regain his momentum.

“Unfortunately, his love of family and life dwindled as his mental health challenges went untreated and the long periods of substance abuse and skewered thinking took over,” she said.

Two years before her son passed, Matthew’s aunt introduced Pattie to Catholic Charities Boston’s Recovering Connections program, which offers case management, support groups, and retreats for the families of those with substance abuse disorders.

At the heart of all the retreats and interactions, Pattie says, is Outreach Social Worker Sister Maryadele Robinson, a strong guiding light who facilitates conversations and offers unwavering compassion and acceptance.

From group prayers to shared meals, to soothing music and silent prayer, the retreats foster a sense of closeness among the women, with interactions ranging from emotional and restorative conversation to jovial and light-hearted chatter.

Pattie said the group retreat helps the women to lift each other – and sometimes carry each other — through the very worst of the loss and pain, sometimes a single step and a single breath at a time.

She has since become a regular member at the retreats, making a firm effort to attend each year.

“For those of us who have lost, there is no better community to help us begin to find healing.” Pattie said.

*Due to the sensitive nature of the real-life experiences shared within this series some clients are referred to by their first or middle names only to protect privacy.

For more information regarding the Catholic Charities Recovery Connections programs or counseling services, please visit

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