By Ann Marie Foley - 14 October, 2014
The Pioneers are launching their Short-Term Pledge to encourage people to take a break from alcohol in the lead up to Christmas.
They say that November is an ideal occasion to take the pledge and offer this as a prayerful act in honour of deceased loved ones.
“Take time-out from alcohol,” Raymond O’Connor in the Pioneer headquarters in Dublin urged.
He told CatholicIreland.net, “We have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in this country, so these are just little steps that we are trying to encourage and promote.”
He added that in the run up to Christmas, “There are a lot of parties and drinking. So this is about taking time-out to reflect on your relationship with drink.”
The steps are:
• Abstain from all alcoholic drink.
• Wear the Pioneer emblem.
• Recite the Pioneer prayer twice daily.
“The vision our founder Fr Cullen had was that a pioneer is someone who freely chooses to abstain from alcohol, which is a good thing, and to offer it up for a higher and more noble purpose,” Raymond O’Connor explained.
“The Pioneer commitment is linked in to prayer and sacrifice. Someone has to make the sacrifice and that is what Pioneer members do – to freely choose to give up alcohol but to offer it up as a prayer for the gift of freedom for someone else.”
Interest in the short term pledge, taken in October/November or during Lent, has been steadily increasing.
The numbers of those applying through the website alone, has gone from 83 in 2011, to 90 in 2012, and 109 in 2013 (people taking the pledge in October/November ).
The Pioneers are now promoting this initiative through Facebook and social media so the number is expected to grow again this year. These figures do not include people who get involved through their local parishes where they might see a poster.
Raymond O’Connor feels that the Pioneer message is as important now as it was when the Pioneer Association was founded more than 100 years ago.
The association had financial difficulties a few years ago and had an appeal for funds. It is now out of immediate danger but fundraising is ongoing and the scandal about funding for charities did not help.
“We are doing our best. It is in the hands of God if he wants us to keep going, if not we will close,” he said. “We are around since 1898 and I do think we are as relevant today as before because the issue of alcohol abuse hasn’t gone away, and it just seems to be getting worse.”
He explained that abuse of alcohol contributes to difficulties in many families and causes marriage break ups. This is not something that is talked about too much. The Pioneers want to make a difference in such situations.
Those who get involved are also asked to encourage friends, family and work colleagues to also take up the November pledge. Details and prayers and emblems are available via the website or head office in Dublin.