Feature 2 March 2009 | The Pioneer Challenge for Lent

02 Mar 2009



Bishop Éamonn Walsh introduces a special Lenten edition of The Pioneer magazine and reminds us that “there is always someone for whom this is the year that will make the difference in their relationship with alcohol”.

Bishop Éamonn Walsh
Vice Chair, Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative (IBDI)

bishopeamonnwalsh_webThis special edition of the Pioneer magazine to mark Temperance Sunday encourages us all to address our relationship with alcohol. Ireland will forever be indebted to Fr. Theobald Mathew, founder of the Temperance Movement. We are also indebted to Fr. James Cullen, founder of the Pioneer Association 111 years ago. Fr Cullen, in expressing appreciation of Fr. Mathew, described him as the ‘giant at his shoulder’. Matt Talbot is an inspiration, a sign of hope to those who can only safely relate to alcohol through abstinence. The abstinence of the Pioneer Association is positive in the way it converts the sacrifice involved into reparation for the suffering caused through the misuse of alcohol.


I welcome the Pioneer Association’s extended outreach to those who wish to enjoy the use of alcohol. A temporary pledge for Lent or a significant reduction in the consumption of alcohol is proposed. Temperance Sunday provides an opportunity to discuss honestly with family and friends the way we use alcohol. Minimising, denial and mistakes can be addressed in a friendly environment. Goals can be set and agreement made, to help one another in setting targets of abstinence or reduction with built-in friendly support structures to encourage and evaluate. There is always someone for whom this is the year that will make the difference in their relationship with alcohol. The Pioneer Association may occasion that difference.
The Pioneer magazine special edition for Lent 2009 includes:

– Fr Joe Dargan SJ, Chairman of the PTAA
– Mary Wallace TD, Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety
– Bishop Éamonn Walsh, Vice-Chair, IBDI

Calling ‘time’ on alcohol related harm
– Fiona Ryan, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland

Grappling with the demons of addiction: Invitation to give up or moderate alcohol consumption for Lent
– Bernard McGuckian SJ

– Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh

Thinking of abstaining from or reducing your intake of alcohol for Lent?

Practical suggestions from the IBDI

  • Refrain from alcohol for the weeks of Lent
  • Consider drinking non-alcoholic drinks when out with friends at the weekend
  • Reduce the intake of alcohol from what is your normal use
  • Encourage your friends to reduce alcohol intake
  • Donate some of the money saved from alcohol to a charity of your choice
  • Encourage discussion with your friends about the dangers of excessive drinking
  • Initiate a discussion in the home about the family’s attitude to and use of alcohol
  • Nationally, we might encourage people to reduce their alcohol use, say by one-third or a half, during the weeks of Lent


The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative is supporting the Pioneer Challenge, which invites everyone to abstain from alcohol or reduce their intake of alcohol this Lent. At any time of year, parishes seeking further information on alcohol or drugs can contact the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative.