In February of 1971, Fr. Carmen Giuliano, S.A. received the assignment from the Friars of the Atonement of creating St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake, “To serve God by promoting healing and recovery for all persons who suffer from the disease of alcoholism and chemical dependency,” and to “Prudently use resources to provide treatment and advocacy for those who lack the necessary resources.”
In the 46 years since the Centers’ founding, St. Joseph’s has provided the gifts of hope and healing from addiction to thousands of men, women, adolescents, and their families.
It is, therefore, with great admiration and tremendous sadness that I share the news that St. Joseph’s patriarch, Father Carmen, passed away in April.
Father Carmen’s death is not only a great loss to the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement of Garrison, NY, who founded St. Joseph’s, but also to the entire St. Joseph’s community, including our community of graduates, St. Joseph’s Fellowship, which after more than four decades of steady growth now numbers more than 4,000 members.
Father Carmen’s creativity, dedication and compassion were reflected in the farsighted St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment Program that he created on a magic hill overlooking Lake Flower in Saranac Lake in 1971.
We are still guided by the mission that Father Carmen set for St. Joseph’s – to promote healing and recovery for individuals and families suffering from addiction, and to provide the highest quality professional services in a manner which recognizes the spiritual nature, inherent dignity and worth of every individual.
In preparing for opening St. Joseph’s as an addiction treatment center, Father Carmen traveled tirelessly around the country, picking the brains of noted addiction treatment experts to create an original approach to addiction founded on spirituality and best practices which was decades ahead of its time.
That strong foundation has allowed St. Joseph’s to evolve from its earliest days with the original six male residents to a truly comprehensive continuum of addiction treatment.
Although Father Carmen was too humble to ever seek or expect recognition, in 2011, to commemorate the agency’s 40th anniversary, St. Joseph’s formally dedicated our Spirituality Center as the Father Carmen Giuliano Spirituality Center in recognition of his vision and leadership.
In addition to a smiling picture of Father Carmen greeting all who enter the Spirituality Center, the following words are memorialized in the plaque dedicating the center in his name: “To heal the wounds, unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Those powerful words capture the spirit of the charge to all who have joined Father Carmen in his noble adventure, begun 46 years ago, to help addicts, and they remain a beacon for our efforts today and in the future.
Father Carmen, we will miss you and are fortunate to have had your gifts and your grace to lead our way to help others.
– Bob Ross, St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers CEO and President
EULOGY FOR FATHER CARMEN GIULIANO, S.A.
– Father John Kean, SA
In looking at the many readings possible for our Mass today, as we celebrate the life of Fr. Carmen Giuliano, I immediately chose the Gospel reading from the Book of Luke Chapter 12:35-40. In this Gospel, we read how Jesus cautions us to be prepared for the hour when the Angel of Death will come to call us to our eternal home
Carmen was prepared for that hour spiritually. Physically, he knew that he was “not going anywhere”, as he once told me. “So”, he continued with a smile and a giggle, “I am ready to prepare myself spiritually.” He spoke of the blessings he had received at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., and of the kindnesses offered him by the Franciscan Friars Minor and their faithful staff who are represented here today by Fr. Francis, Bro. Francis and Patty, the head of the nursing team.
His long journey with illness was a cross he accepted without complaint. Even though his body was immobilized by disease, his mind was clear and sharp. As can be imagined, he did not like the fact that he could no longer write letters to friends and relatives, or he could not go up to Danbury, CT, to see the dentist, his nephew, Ralph. Yet, he added that they understood. It is marvelous to see so many of the Giuliano family here this morning and we welcome, especially, Father’s other two nephews, Ted and Michael.
Among the assignments that Carmen had, he is noted for his ministry as Minister General of the Friars of the Atonement and as Director of Saint Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake, NY, a ministry that he started. So, to be pinned down to no active ministry at all, was one phase of his life that was very difficult. However, during both the active and inactive periods of this life the one constant quality that shows forth is the quality of his spiritual life. He often told me that his spiritual life could be summed up in a quote from Henri Nouwen, the great spiritual writer – namely:
“Being is more important than doing; the heart is more important than the mind and doing things together is more important than doing things alone.”
In this quote, Carmen saw his own Atonement Vocation inspired by Father Paul Wattson of Graymoor. Although he used his mind to give many talks to his Franciscan Community and to many lay people seeking his wisdom, Father Carmen was above all a man with a heart full of love for others. Yet, when illness put him flat on his back and he could not move his muscles, just being in that condition was more important than actually doing those ministries that he wanted so much to do.
One day, while I was visiting him at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, NJ, he asked me if I could enquire with the government of the State of New York in Albany to see if he would be recognized as a permanent counselor, although in retirement. Working with the present Director of St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, Mr. Robert Ross, we received several weeks later an official document from the State Board of Action against Alcohol and Drug Addiction recognizing Father Carmen Giuliano, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, to be a permanent counselor based on all that he had done in fighting against these addictions.
He had, indeed, every right to this recognition because Father Carmen was a pioneer in forming many action groups, such as the alumni recovery meetings; building cottages for family meetings on the grounds in Saranac Lake and in working with others by writing legislation that defined alcoholism to be a disease rather than a crime in New York State. I mention this last significant achievement with regard to getting State legislation through on behalf of addicted people, even though Father Peter Taran spoke about it in his excellent eulogy yesterday evening. I repeat this matter again for the benefit of those who did not attend the wake service because it is an action that reaches out not only to the State of New York, but also to our nation and the world.
After Carmen asked me to enquire about being recognized as a permanent counselor, he reached into his files and pulled out these papers which are talks and notes that he gave over the years. “Here, read this!”, he said, “You might want to use them someday”. Little did I realize at that time that he was referring to a future moment, like now, when I would be able to explain the spirituality that moved this wonderful man.
If I were to describe the spirituality of Father Carmen, it could be called:
“A Spirituality of Self-Esteem”
He preached this spirituality to others and he lived it intensely himself. This spirituality is summed up with this brief thought:
“The greatest hunger we have is to feel good about ourselves and to do something about it.”
This thoughtful idea is good-old Connecticut Yankee common sense from a person, like Carmen, born in Waterbury, CT. However, in speaking about the Spirituality of Self-esteem, he not only relied upon common sense, but he fortified this spirituality with the thoughts of scholars, like Victor Frankl, Carl Young, Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington and Carl Rodgers. Indeed, Carmen’s ideas resonated with the ideas of other reputable authors. In all his writings, I think the following paragraph, which he wrote himself, best describes what Spirituality of Self-esteem means:
“The heart is the center of spiritual activity by which I recognize the transcendent dimension of my life. By it, I come to recognize that there is meaning and purpose to my life that goes beyond me and affects the lives of other people and the world in general. I experience that there is a Being dwelling within me Who is the Author of my life and Who uses all of these gifts to guide and direct me in fulfilling the purpose for which I was created.”
Father Carmen was so energized by this thought that he would at times urge it upon those who did not accept it causing misunderstandings. Like all the prophets, who went before him, Carmen bore “witness” to a cause. If he was over-enthusiastic about this, he is still eligible to be numbered among “the souls of the just”.
Carmen, my friend, with your “lions gird” to use the words of the Gospel today, you have prepared yourself well to meet your Creator, Almighty God. We await to greet you on that day of Resurrection! Like gold tried in a furnace, you have been tested and proven to be a true spiritual son of Father Paul of Graymoor, who, like you, tried to gather people together in unity and who served the poor in need of help and recovery!
May you rest in peace! Amen!