By Colleen Rowan WEST VIRGINIA—The first in a series to promote healing and reducing stigma with substance abuse was held at St. Leo Parish in Inwood Oct. 6. “Faith, Hope, Love—Creating Connections for Healing” (the seventh annual Social Ministries Conference) is being presented by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Catholic Charities West Virginia along with the West Virginia Council of Churches. The conference focuses on substance abuse, how it affects the brain, fostering healing in communities and reducing stigma. Representatives from the sponsoring organizations and others are participating in the series. According to the West Virginia Health Statistics Center, 879 people died of drug overdose in West Virginia in 2016. A total of 744 of those drug overdose deaths involved one or more opioids. The remaining dates and locations in the series are as follows: Blessed Sacrament Parish in South Charleston Dec. 1, St. Joseph Retreat Center in Wheeling March 9, and St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown May 18. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. at each of the dates and locations and will be offered free of charge. The conference will feature prayer, sharing, stories, a keynote presentation, as well as break out sessions. Each will end with prayer. Although the conference is free, those interested in attending are asked to RSVP so that provisions for materials and lunch may be made. Registration may be made online at http://bit.ly/connectionsforhealing.