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San Diego organization wins $100,000 Prize

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SAN DIEGO — Catholic in Recovery, a San Diego-based nonprofit that offers addiction-recovery resources within the context of Catholic spirituality, is one of three nonprofits nationwide receiving a $100,000 prize from the OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation.

The winners were announced on Sept. 18 at the OSV Challenge Showcase, the culmination of an eight-month contest designed to incubate project ideas that will make a profound impact on the Church and the world. During the virtual event, 12 finalists presented their pitches to a panel of five  judges.

The finalists included another nonprofit with San Diego ties, Quo Vadis Catholic. The organization recruits, screens and forms young adults to live in residential communities in vacant parish properties, such as old rectories. The young adults benefit from formation, religious and service opportunities, and below-market rent, while the parishes benefit from a vibrant young adult community and monthly income from rent.

Beginning in February, nearly 600 Catholic entrepreneurs submitted applications for the OSV Challenge, now in its second year.

In addition to the $100,000 prizes for the three winners, OSV Institute also sponsored a six-week accelerator program in cooperation with the University of St. Thomas in Houston for the 24 semifinalists, which provided a custom curriculum of business courses, spiritual formation, one-on-one mentorship, and pitch consultations. The institute provided additional funding this year to contestants as they advanced through the stages of the challenge.

The three prize winners will continue to receive coaching throughout the coming year to ensure their projects make a meaningful impact for years to come. The other two are FemCatholic, a platform that combines feminism and Catholicism; and Red Bird Ministries, which guides people through the trauma that comes with the loss of a child.

“I am honored and full of gratitude for Catholic in Recovery to have been chosen as a winner of the 2021 OSV Challenge,” said Scott Weeman, its founder.

“The formation, fellowship of leaders, and affirmation that we received from the accelerator, along with the $100,000 prize, will help us expand our network of addiction-recovery meetings and develop an app/digital platform with comprehensive recovery resources rooted in the sacraments,” he said. “This is truly a gift.”

Weeman knows addiction firsthand and how it can be overcome with the light of Christ. After what he described as “nine years of darkness,” consumed by alcohol and drug abuse, he hit bottom in late 2011 and began the journey toward recovery.

He founded Catholic in Recovery to share with others the healing that he received through the combination of 12-step recovery programs and the sacraments of the Catholic Church. The organization began in the spring of 2015 as a blog. Since becoming a nonprofit in April 2016, it has grown to include fellowship groups around the country.

There are about 40 in-person Catholic in Recovery groups meeting in 11 states and addressing various types of addictions, said Weeman. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization started nearly 20 virtual groups. He said he receives about six inquiries each week about starting new groups.

Catholic in Recovery held its first retreat last August in Wichita, Kansas, and plans to offer six retreats next year, including one in San Diego. In October, the organization will partner with Rise Up Industries and Kairos House to provide addiction-recovery services to the formerly incarcerated.

Though Quo Vadis Catholic was not awarded one of the three $100,000 grand prizes, its leadership team — Nathan Poe, co-founder and vice president; David Murphy, co-founder and chairman; and Kevin Angell, president — were among the finalists delivering their pitch at the OSV Showcase.

Incorporated in 2019, its mission involves repurposing vacant or underutilized parish properties as residential communities for young adult Catholics in their early 20s to mid-30s. Last year, the organization opened its first two locations at a former rectory at St. Casimir Parish and a former convent at Holy Cross Parish, both in South Bend, Ind.

Every week, residents are expected to eat at least one dinner together, to pray as a community for at least one hour, and to attend Mass together, said Poe. They bring in a guest speaker every month for formation lectures that are open to all young adults in the parish. They also commit to regular volunteer service at the parish.

“There are so many young adults who feel sort of adrift, who feel rootless, and they’re trying to find a community that they can serve, that they can sacrifice for — not just so that they can hang out, have a good time, but (so) that they can have a meaningful life,” Poe said.

Like Catholic in Recovery, this was the second year that Quo Vadis Catholic entered the OSV Challenge. Poe said that the Quo Vadis Catholic team is “extremely grateful and humbled to be one of the finalists.”

“I think that what OSV is doing right now is so needed to find new ideas to serve the Church,” he said, “and we’re really grateful that we can be one of those new innovative ideas that, hopefully, can bring community and life back to our parishes.”

Denis Grasska contributed to this story.

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