September 27, 2019

Organization plants seeds to fulfill Father O’Connor’s dream

By John Shaughnessy

Father Glenn O’ConnorAfter all Father Glenn O’Connor did for her and for so many other women trying to reclaim their lives, Marvetta Grimes wants to make one of his last dreams come true.

She believes it would be especially fitting to make that dream a reality during this 20th anniversary year of Seeds of Hope—the recovery program that the late Father O’Connor founded on the grounds of St. Joseph Parish in Indianapolis to help women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

For these 20 years, Seeds of Hope has provided a transitional residence center that offers a structured, spiritual environment designed to empower the women to overcome their addictions, reunite with their families and start their lives anew. About 700 women—and their families—have benefitted from the program.

“Father Glenn was the type of person who was for the underdog,” says Grimes, who went through the program and has served as the executive director of Seeds of Hope since 2005. “He would give the shirt off his back to help someone. Seeds of Hope was the perfect organization for him.”

In the three years before he died of cancer on March 15 of this year at the age of 66, Father O’Connor dreamed of making one more addition to the Seeds of Hope program, Grimes says.

“He wanted to have a three-quarter house for the women,” Grimes says, explaining that the priest’s vision was to create an apartment building where the recovering women could live for another 18 months after they completed the program and before they immersed themselves once again in society.

“We have these board meetings, and I’d have one of the ladies come to every meeting. And what we found is that the ladies are scared due to the opioid crisis. They’re scared of going back out in the world and relapsing. They want to stay clean. Once they graduate, they go back to the same places, and it’s not good for them. There are drugs there. Father Glenn sat in on all those meetings. He saw their tears and how scared they were. This is what he wanted. He just ran out of time.”

So Seeds of Hope has started “the Father Glenn Challenge,” an effort to raise $70,000 to help build 11 apartments in the three-quarter house, with an eventual goal of raising enough money to have a second floor with another 11 apartments.

“It would probably bring him to tears,” says Grimes, who adds that the organization is also pursuing grants to help fund the building of the house. “He would be so very happy to help women continue on their path to recovery.”

What she’s sure he wouldn’t be happy about is the plan to name the three-quarter house in his honor—“Father Glenn O’Connor Home.”

“He wouldn’t have wanted that because he was so humble,” Grimes says. “I can hear him now, ‘No, no, no!’ But he deserves it, and so much more.”

She knows the impact he had on her and so many others.

“I’m a grateful recovery addict myself,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Father and Seeds of Hope, I don’t know where I’d be today. I’m not sure I’d be alive. He had the determination to help people. He made me a better person.

“He wanted these women to be better persons, better mothers, better sisters. At graduations from the program, family members would say, ‘I’m glad I got my mother back.’ That would bring him to tears. Because of him, so many of us had a second chance at life.”

(Anyone wanting to contribute to “the Father Glenn Challenge” can contact Marvetta Grimes at Seeds of Hope by calling 317-244-0203. Contributions can also be made online at Information for the Seeds of Hope 20th anniversary celebration-reverse raffle on Nov. 23 is also available at the phone number and website mentioned above.)

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