Cahiers Péguy


“Learn to cry out”: 20 years of assisting drug-addicted teens

Silvio Cattarina is the founder of some rehabilitation houses in Italy where teens with substance abuse issues are welcomed and challenged as related in an interview with  Three things struck me in particular about Cattarina's approach.  First, he insists on the person's freedom to be there at the center.  Second, he wants to probe the questions that brought them there to their existential depth, including himself in this quest.  Third, he insists on an order, including dress, talk, behavior, which respects reality and that fact that we are dependent rather than autonomous.

We don’t have to be afraid of the questions of the religious sense that stem forth; these express a need for life and in this they have educational value. A person who arrives at this level should be considered to be at a high point. Young people are not vases to be filled but rather fires to be lit: the idea may be a little 19h century, from the book Heart: A School-Boy’s Journal, but it describes what our responsibility is. The highest point our relationship, our whole effort, can reach is when these friends, these teens arrive at the question, “Why are you doing this for me?” If they don’t arrive at this question, we have to push them, with great freedom and strength, to do so. In many situations it’s necessary to explain and teach everything, not troubling oneself with the false worry of imposing upon another’s freedom or not being delicate enough. The question, “Why are you doing this for me?” must come out. In my opinion, this question is central in education, in schools, for children in a family, and for all children, whether they have particular problems or not.

Int. with Silvio Cattarina, "The Unexpected: A Refuge saves my kids and me from meaninglessness"

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About clairity

Sharon Mollerus is an editor (, writer ( and photographer ( but mostly a Grandma-on-call.
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