Spotlight on Charlie & Star

November 7, 2018

During September, National Recovery Month, the Friars, Staff and Brothers Christopher at St. Christopher’s Inn shared many opportunities to recognize and celebrate recovery. Most impactful was a visit from a 25-year Alumnus to St. Christopher’s Inn, Charlie Cifarelli.

Charlie became a Brother Christopher in October, 1993, and has lived a life of sobriety ever since, crediting the Inn and the Friars with saving his life. Charlie visited the Inn for the first time in 25 years on Friday, September 21st, and shared his story with the St. Christopher’s Inn Board of Directors during their annual day-long planning session. Charlie also shared lunch with the staff, and encouraged them in their work to help so many men find recovery, peace and a life of gratitude. Finally, Charlie met with all the current Brothers Christopher, and reminded them that “They are miracles at work—each and every one of them.” Here is a brief summary of Charlie’s story.

A few years after leaving the Inn, Charlie moved to Nebraska, and made a life for himself, starting out as a corrections officer and working his way up to prison official. Charlie shared, “Imagine a man who was once a homeless alcoholic entrusted with all the keys to an entire prison?!” Charlie led a productive and content life of sobriety. However, his life changed dramatically in August, 2012 when he saw a story about a homeless man who collapsed on the street in New York City after a seizure. When policemen felt threatened by the man’s dog, Star, they shot her in the head, and yet she survived.

The story moved Charlie so deeply, that he could not stop thinking about the homeless man . . . and Star. Not only was Charlie heartbroken over what happened to Star, the story brought back so many suppressed emotions and memories about his time as a homeless alcoholic, his time at St. Christopher’s Inn, and the Friars who helped him.

Charlie reached out to the New York Police Department offering help for the homeless man, and for information on Star. From there he started a year-long process of trying to adopt Star. In April, 2013, Star finally arrived at her forever home with Charlie. Since then, they have traveled around the country together sharing their stories of redemption, healing from old wounds and helping others.