Parish testimonies

02 Sep 2008

Why some parishes got involved in the pilot project…

“We were probably attracted by a common concern for our young people and their exposure to the culture of alcohol and drug misuse.”
Blackrock / Haggardstown Parish Drug Initiative
“We wished to be a Christian community working together in the service of one another for the health and well-being of the individual and community while developing a healthy awareness of substance use and misuse.”
Mooncoin Parish Drug Initiative
“Our aim as a parish project was to enable our parish to become more self sufficient in dealing with the particular needs of our parish in relation to drugs and alcohol”
Cavan Drug Awareness

Some clergy’s response to getting involved…

As a follower of Christ, I have to live in some sense what it says in scripture as Jesus said in Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and new sight to the blind, to free the oppressed”.
In today’s society, many people in addiction are the same people as Jesus spoke about – oppressed by drugs or alcohol, captivated by the dependency, poor from the addiction robbing a person of everything at times and blind at times to be able to see a way out or a new life in recovery. “I have a responsibility to respond as a follower of Christ”. As a parish we can do three things:
  • Ignore it, deny it is happening
  • Recognise the problem and do nothing
  • Recognise the problems and do what you can
“If we as a parish are not part of the solution, we then become part of the problem, we enable problems to continue.”
“It is important to know we don’t need to take on other peoples roles, just contribute to what we can do at local parish community level.”
As every parish in Ireland is affected by drug and alcohol we as clergy have to stand alongside many coffins of both young and old that came about in some way from drugs or alcohol, it impacts on clergy and parish communities. And as parishes and clergy we need to play our part in helping to address the issue of addiction, and prevent or reduce that heartbreak. It affects us all.
Fr E. Treanor, P.P Killsaran.
“It is my experience that this unquenchable fire residing in all of us is most pronounced during the adolescent and young adult years. Spirituality is ultimately what we do about that desire, about how we handle our unrest. Many lives today are being destroyed because there is no one to help young people deal with their unrest and channel it in a positive direction, instead of trying to satisfy it with drugs and alcohol. This is surely the role of the Christian community and its leaders.”
Fr. Oliver Brennan P.P
My message to other parishes considering this type of a response is try it, you will be surprised. It brings the parish to life. By taking little steps, one or two small efforts suddenly grow without much difficulty. It takes on a life of its own. One person is enough to start the programme. When people are given a taste, and it is something new and stimulating, others will contribute – it is infectious.
Fr Eamon O’ Gorman PP

Feedback from some parishes involved…

“We were given, great support and direction from the staff, which helped us greatly after a slow start.”
“Results have been amazing….there is a new aliveness in our parish.”
Mooncoin Parish Drug Initiative
“Since getting training we don’t see drugs or the problem of drugs in our town as overwhelming….we feel more confident.”
Blessington Parish Drug Initiative
“The positive reaction we have had so far, both at public meetings and informally, has given us the encouragement to keep going.”
Blackrock / Haggardstown Parish Drug Initiative
“It has been such a positive contribution to building up the community, there is no doubt the problem of addiction has become part of the local agenda and is now being talked about and so now more likely to address issues.”
“…hard to evaluate some impacts, however some people in the parish have said they have decided to look at these parts of their lives and changing.”
“We have a stand in the church porch where we display drug /alcohol awareness leaflets and these are been taken very often, which is good. A number of people have approached me in relation to addiction treatment over past year and that never happened before, as well as me now having the information and knowledge of where to send these peoples.”