Men in search of second chance flock to Holy Mountain

Perched high on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, St. Christopher's Inn, a men's shelter and a drug treatment center, has been attracting thousands of troubled people seeking to change their lives.

News 12 Staff

Jun 17, 2009, 4:25 PM

Updated 5,451 days ago

Share:

Men in search of second chance flock to Holy Mountain
Perched high on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, St. Christopher's Inn, a men's shelter and a drug treatment center, has been attracting thousands of troubled people seeking to change their lives.
"I can't begin to explain the miracles that happen up here on a daily basis," says Courtney Smith, of Suffern.
Smith, an accountant and father of three, became homeless after losing everything due to drug and alcohol addiction. Smith came to the mountain on Route 9 in Garrison in March.
"You feel embarrassed, and that just drives you lower into the ground," he says.
Those who found spirituality and guidance at the century-old ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement call its location the Holy Mountain. The Friars, dressed in long brown habits, follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, a 12th-century Italian monk who led a life of poverty and simplicity.
True to St. Francis' spirit, the ministry started from humble origins. The first inn was housed in a chicken coop, which became a destination for people seeking sobriety and a new beginning.
Douglas Levy says he has struggled to find sobriety for many years. He was successful for a while, but then he broke down and went back to using heroin. The final straw for Levy was the suicide of his girlfriend. Friends in recovery told Levy about St. Christopher's Inn, but he was reluctant to visit the ministry. Born to a Russian-Jewish father and an Irish-Protestant mother, Levy says he was confused and did not want anything to do with religion.
"I didn't realize that they don't push religion on you, and I got very close with a lot of the friars and especially the nuns, the sisters," Levy says. "They're my heart and soul."
Father Bernie Palka leads those who seek healing help at St. Christopher's Inn. He says funding in these economic times is difficult, but no one is ever turned away because of finances. According to Palka, over the past 100 years the inn helped enough people to fill Yankee Stadium.
"This ministry started because people started stopping here and asking for help, and it's never stopped," Palka says.


More from News 12
2:23
Several Hudson Valley schools seek to pierce state tax gap in budget votes

Several Hudson Valley schools seek to pierce state tax gap in budget votes

2:16
Mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures in the Hudson Valley

Mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures in the Hudson Valley

0:26
Police: 2 additional arrests made in 2019 cold case killing of Middletown man

Police: 2 additional arrests made in 2019 cold case killing of Middletown man

2:41
Made in the Hudson Valley: Jaymark Jewelers continues family legacy, four decades in the making

Made in the Hudson Valley: Jaymark Jewelers continues family legacy, four decades in the making

1:41
County manager: School bus driver dies in collision with another school bus

County manager: School bus driver dies in collision with another school bus

1:35
North Castle police: Officer shoots man who attacked police with knife in Armonk

North Castle police: Officer shoots man who attacked police with knife in Armonk

1:42
Shrub Oak resident: It's only a matter of time until someone is killed on Old Yorktown Road

Shrub Oak resident: It's only a matter of time until someone is killed on Old Yorktown Road

1:56
Remembering Mark Woods: Rockland County reflects on councilman’s life

Remembering Mark Woods: Rockland County reflects on councilman’s life

1:44
Pride event organizers aim to attract more families while preparing for potential disruptions

Pride event organizers aim to attract more families while preparing for potential disruptions

1:45
Catskill EMS workers taken off duty after video shows apparent mistreatment of disabled patient

Catskill EMS workers taken off duty after video shows apparent mistreatment of disabled patient

1:10
Police: Multivehicle crash on Sprain Brook Parkway kills 1

Police: Multivehicle crash on Sprain Brook Parkway kills 1

Woman indicted for fatal hit-and-run that killed 2 people, including man in wheelchair

Woman indicted for fatal hit-and-run that killed 2 people, including man in wheelchair

0:57
Parents of late Pace University student receive award at 2024 commencement ceremony

Parents of late Pace University student receive award at 2024 commencement ceremony

0:21
Officials: 2 hospitalized following head-on collision in Cornwall

Officials: 2 hospitalized following head-on collision in Cornwall

0:49
Saigon Table: New Vietnamese eatery brings healthy fresh food options to Rye

Saigon Table: New Vietnamese eatery brings healthy fresh food options to Rye

0:13
Dominican University in Orangeburg holds 70th annual commencement ceremony

Dominican University in Orangeburg holds 70th annual commencement ceremony

0:22
Police: Westchester patrol car struck by vehicle in Valhalla

Police: Westchester patrol car struck by vehicle in Valhalla

2:16
Israel music festival terror attack survivors share their Oct. 7 experience with New City congregation

Israel music festival terror attack survivors share their Oct. 7 experience with New City congregation

0:48
DEC says it's monitoring oil slick found at Village of Piermont creek

DEC says it's monitoring oil slick found at Village of Piermont creek

0:28
Yonkers police: 32-year-old man stabbed on Stanley Avenue

Yonkers police: 32-year-old man stabbed on Stanley Avenue