Start of the Foundation

His prayerful hands were God's hands as he had guided us through sobriety and a life of serenity. We will be forever grateful to him and to the creation of the Third Saturday Recovery Mass which continues to be a means to improve our conscious contact with a Higher Power. We saw his life through his homilies at masses and his inspiring words during those one-on-one moments as he lived his life as an example to us. Whether you were a Roman Catholic or a friend of Bill W's or even another face in this human condition, we identified with this man who did not talk to us with fire and brimstone but instead with a compassionate, understanding, and motivating voice. A caring listener, always with a joke and a cup of coffee in his hand, he had been to us a brother, an uncle, a friend, a sponsor, a priest, a teacher. To paraphrase Sir Thomas More in the play A Man for All Seasons which Jim loved, "Father Jim McKenna you were a fine teacher. Perhaps even a great one. And who knows it? You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public that."

At Christmas time in 2005, our beloved teacher, Fr. Jim, was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Throughout his illness, he maintained his sense of humor, his dignity, and his honesty. He was always present for anyone who needed counseling, a hug, or even just a smile, no matter how poor his health had gotten. He led us in our worship at the Recovery Mass until April 2006 and occasionally concerned that his presence at the Mass in that condition would be a distraction to us. In his humble way, he never wanted the Mass to be about him, it was always about the liturgy and our conscious contact with our Higher Power.

Seeing his earthly journey coming to an end, the Wednesday before he died, Fr. Jim summoned some of his family, a few friends, and a couple of men from the Ladder Project to his sister's home. In the course of the next hour, he set us to task in order to continue carrying the message of hope by assisting those of us still struggling with addiction.

Wanting to call the group, "The Hook", a few of us not understanding what it meant, balked and thought that his memory was of utmost importance. Grudgingly he acquiesced by allowing us to call ourselves The Father Jim McKenna Memorial Fund. We all could speculate on "The Hook". Was it to be "the Hook and Ladder Project"? Was the hook to be the branding of our group that would grab people's attention? Was the hook to be the moment we take hold of another human being in order to help them? We don't know for certain, but as his homilies left us with food for the soul, we at the Father Jim McKenna Memorial Fund strive to do our best at what he did so well. Sometimes we have to be quiet, unassuming and think what would Jim do? And you know if we pray for patience... the answer comes.

[Father Jim McKenna]


For the Ladder Project Residence

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous materials
Matt Talbott retreats
Picnic tables
Basketball Hoops & basketballs
Propane Gas Grill
Linens & Blankets
Summer Picnics at Van Saun Park

For Spring House
Propane Gas Grill
Alumnae trip to Liberty Science Center

For individuals

Apartment security deposits for Ladder II residents
Apartment furniture: beds, chest of drawers, chairs, and tables
A kitchen stove
School books
Tuition for Addiction Professionals Certificate
Tuition for welding courses
Scholarships for GEDs