New program will help parishioners who are addicts get much-needed care

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark

Addiction knows no boundaries and affects every walk of life. And now, parishioners of churches within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark will now have an added layer of help to secure treatment for opioid addiction, thanks to an innovative, joint program of the archdiocese of the NJ Reentry Corporation.

NJRC and the Archdiocese of Newark have established an addiction treatment referral program for individuals suffering from acute opiate addiction, effective July 1, 2023. The archdiocese and NJRC signed a memorandum of understanding to acknowledge the collaborative relationship and coordinate and integrate services and care for adults with substance-use disorders.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the archbishop of Newark, recognizes just how serious the addiction issue is, especially in North Jersey.

“In these past several years, there have been approximately 3,000 overdose deaths annually in New Jersey due to the heroin, opioid and fentanyl addiction crisis,” the cardinal said. “The archdiocese recognizes the need for greater resources and support for adults struggling with opiate addiction who often turn to a parish seeking help. This partnership between NJRC and the archdiocese will provide an opportunity for our brothers and sisters to receive addiction treatment when in critical need. They will be connected to appropriate treatment services immediately following a referral from the archdiocese.”


NJRC will provide voluntary training sessions to priests of the Archdiocese regarding referrals to addiction treatment services while collaborating with them to identify individuals seeking and in need of  treatment. The training will better inform as to the scope of the opioid crisis and available treatment options. The priests will provide appropriate NJRC referral information to individuals interested in receiving such services.

Those in need of addiction treatment services will then contact NJRC’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Carter, who will be responsible for referring people to a clinical professional within a treatment agency that will evaluate potential clients.

“Within 48 hours of a referral, NJRC will ensure clinical assessments and clinically-appropriate addiction treatment services for referred individuals,” Carter said. “These services will include intake processing, creating a personalized long-term treatment plan, detoxification, ambulatory withdrawal management, induction of anti-craving medications to aid in treating opioid substance abuse, residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and induction of medication-assisted treatment, as needed and appropriate.”

NJRC will document its services through a database and will conduct follow-ups with referred individuals, as necessary, provided appropriate confidentiality releases are obtained. Where appropriate, individuals will be enrolled and referred to NJRC’s Employment Orientation program to learn essential work skills and gain access to job-readiness workshops and assistance.

Additional wrap-around services will be provided, including job training and employment, mental health and medical care, transportation and license-restoration services. NJRC will provide bi-annual progress reports to the archdiocese for referred individuals.

NJRC Chairman James E. McGreevey, New Jersey’s former governor, said: “Thanks to Cardinal Tobin’s leadership and vision, we are taking a bold, immediate step to addressing the addiction crisis. So many families simply do not know where to turn in the midst of a suffering son or daughter. Now, parish priests, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers will have a referral source that will provide treatment within 48 hours. When someone is suffering and seeks help, we need to move quickly. As a result of this partnership, we are doing so.”

The Archdiocese of Newark and NJRC say both are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of all referrals and will not use or authorize the use of any information except to fulfill the addiction treatment referral obligation. The MOU between the archdiocese and NJRC will be effective for one year, renewable annually.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.