Dan Kidd is the new director of Shalom Center in Splendora. Shalom Center is a residential treatment center for priests and religious from all over who have emotional difficulties. He took over directorship from Fr. Andre Estephan who returned to work in his community in Lebanon where there is a shortage of priests. Previously Dan was president of Guest House in Detroit Michigan from 1997 to 2011, where they treated 2,400 priests and religious with emotional difficulties.
He pointed out that the number of priests are expected to remain stable in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston over the next 25 years, which is very good compared with other dioceses, where drop-offs of up to 50% is expected. Dan attributed the good showing in our diocese to the strong roll the Serra Clubs play in fostering vocations.
Dan met with Fr. Andre at Guest House in January 2009 at a conference in Houston to train leadership people about addictions and what to do about those problems. after which he went to Splendora to see Shalom Center, which he thought was a “neat little place” that treats priests and sisters very, very well.
A year and a half later he met with Fr. Andre in Houston to see how Guest House and Shalom Center could work together through a Spanish language treatment program. During the meeting, Fr. Andre said he was leaving and said, “How would you like to do this job here?” Dan thought and prayed about it, and decided that God was calling him to come down to Texas. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was starting to get cold in Michigan.
Shalom Center is dedicated to preserving those vocations. They don't want to lose anyone who has been called to the priesthood, deaconate, sisterhood and life of consecration to the church. Serra clubs are strong supporters of Shalom Center, and it is something lay people can do to help priests and religious. At Guest House, no priests were hired, all staff was lay people. Dan said it is appropriate for lay people to step forward to help priests and religious to get well so they can continue to perform their duties for the laity.
What we see in Shalom center is good people overwhelmed by life's problems, perhaps caused by something in their own background, or when they were young. Priests spend a lot of time hearing the problems of others, but they have no way of sharing their problems with others, or in some cases the workload is overwhelming, and get tired and exhausted. Many had not been taught very well on how to cope with pressure, such as when the bishop wants a priest to take care of three more parishes above what he is doing.
Dan said when he reads the history of the priests and religious who are in Shalom Center, he is never surprised why they are there. Presently, there are no beds available at Shalom Center. It is completely filled, the first time since 1999.
One of Dan's first appointments was a Deacon, William Hartman, from Spring, as clinical coordinator. He has 30 years of experience dealing with people with mental illness and is doing an excellent job.
Dan's observations….Shalom Center has better therapy to help priests and religious than happens at any other place. There is an excellent and capable staff of therapists, the best he's ever seen. Three therapists are bi-lingual. There are plans to expand group therapy in the Spanish language as well.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the people treated return to ministry. Many who come in are so burned out that they are thinking of not returning to the priesthood and their active work. Shalom Center rejuvenates them in body, mind, and spirit. Those who have had difficulties in their past often become better at understanding the problems of others, and they can bring experiences from their past to help others.
One of the reasons Shalom Center is so important in helping priests and religious is that Serrans are such big supporters. Also, Shalom Center treats priests and religious at about half the price of other centers. Despite this, there are many dioceses that don't have the funds to pay for this service. This is offset by the Scholarship Fund, which is a method of fund raising, which Serrans have supported individually or as a group over the years.
We are now looking at our current expansion needs, such as building another cottage. Dan also feels that Shalom Center is situated strategically and will be the key place in the Western hemisphere in the future and will be the key prime resource of the church for those who need our resources. The potential here is so good.