By Sean Ryan - 18 December, 2015
While Confirmation students are used to being asked to take the pledge to abstain from alcohol, a Co Meath parish is taking this a step further by asking students to take a pledge to abstain from cyber bullying as well as the traditional pledge.
Clergy in the parish of Ashbourne/Donaghmore have asked Gardaí to speak at Masses on internet dangers to encourage hundreds of students to take a pledge against cyber bullying for their Confirmation.
Local community Garda, Ashling Connor, has been tasked with speaking to congregations about internet safety at all Masses in the coming weeks.
The New Year’s resolution to sign up to an internet safety pledge is part of a new Confirmation programme in the parish.
Explaining the message to CatholicIreland.net, parish priest Fr Derek Darby said that they “originally floated the idea in October when our parish had a mission.”
“For many years we have been doing a programme with children in the Confirmation classes called ‘Confirming Our Children’. I suppose the programme was a little bit removed from where the children are as present so we decided to look at a programme to make it more relevant.”
“From this end we have decided to ask them to take a pledge to be safe on the internet. This will be done at a special ceremony on 12 January in our local parish church. The Confirmation students will also take their pledge to abstain from alcohol at the time of their confirmation.”
Speaking about the context of the programme, Fr Darby said, “We are going to use it in the context of communicating a positive message. When we spoke to Garda Aisling we thought that it might be better to do it in the New Year when everyone is taking part in new year’s resolutions.”
“It was Aisling’s suggestion that we should introduce a pledge for the new year. This pledge would encourage children to use the internet both safely and wisely and communicating a positive message rather than something that can be destructive of others.”
Further to the programme, Fr Darby also confirmed that environmentalist Dr Éanna Ní Lamhna will address the confirmation students on Pope Francis’s recent encyclical on the environment Laudato Si’ in February 2016.