Address by Bishop Christopher Jones at Diocesan Seminar on Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse

13 Apr 2011


13 April 2011

Address by Bishop Christopher Jones at Diocesan Seminar on Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse

The following is the text of the introductory address given by Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin and Chair of the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Care, at a seminar in Rooskey, Co Roscommon last night called Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse. The seminar was organised in conjunction with the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative (IBDI).

Introductory remarks from Bishop Christopher Jones:
I am delighted to welcome all of you to this seminar tonight on “the Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse”.  I welcome especially Mr. John Taaffe, the National Co-ordinator of the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative who has been doing Trojan work throughout the country since his appointment in 2007 by the Irish Bishops’ Conference.  It is great to have you here tonight John and thank you for all you have done to date.
I welcome our speakers tonight; Mr. Sean O’Connor who is the Co-ordinator of the Regional Drug Task Force in the North West.  Sean will share with us information on the current situation in the North West with drug-misuse and on the Services and Supports in the area.
I welcome Mr Jim Donnelly who will tell us how a Parish Community reached out to help him in difficult times.
I welcome Gwen McKenna a parent who coordinates the North East Family Network who is also a Member of one of our new parish initiatives.  I sincerely hope the seminar will be a new beginning in our Diocese as parishes work together against this evil of our time.  Some parishes of course will already be doing some work in this area especially by facilitating Groups like A.A.

Some Facts about the Misuse of Alcohol
It is estimated that in 2006 548 pints of beer, 143 bottles of wine or 51 bottles of vodka were consumed by each adult in the Country.  An estimated 61,000 children in Ireland are affected by their parents’ alcohol misuse.
We know that one in every three deaths in Ireland is alcohol related.
One in four injury admissions to hospital Emergency Departments are alcohol related.  In 2004 people with alcohol related illness used 117,373 bed-days in hospital.  That was double used in 1995. (Alcohol Action Ireland)
Even those few facts should convince all of us of how important it is that all of us do as much as we possibly can to prevent the misuse of alcohol and indeed any drug in our Communities.

Drugs enslave and rob people of dignity and self-esteem
As Christians we are called to be free in the choices we make.  People who become slaves to alcohol or any other drug can never make free and informed choices.  In fact alcohol and other drugs is depriving people of their freedom are robbing them of their dignity and beauty as human beings – made in God’s Image and Redeemed in Christ.  We have all seen people behave in all kinds of inhuman ways because they are under the control of drugs.
All of us as Citizens and as Christians have a huge responsibility to educate and prepare our young people for this huge challenge.  Their first drink could be their first step on the road to misery for themselves, their family and their friends.  Anything we can do in our families, our schools, our parishes and our clubs to protect our youth from a life of misery and indeed depression is Sacred Work and of course prevention is so much better than cure.

+Christy Jones
Bishop Of Elphin

Notes to Editors:

  • The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative (IBDI) coordinated the seminar in Elphin diocese on Tuesday 12th April in Shannon Key West Hotel Rooskey Co. Roscommon. The theme of the conference was ‘Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse’. The seminar was officially opened by Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of  Elphin who also launched the IBDI’s new promotional DVD.
  • The Diocese of Elphin seminar had three main aims.

– To allow attendees explore positive ways mobilising parish communities can play  in  preventing or reducing the harms of substance misuse

– To allow attendees receive information and knowledge on the current situation of alcohol and drug use / misuse in the North west area of Ireland and explore services available

– To launch the IBDI’s new DVD – “Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse”

  • Speakers at the seminar included Sean O’ Connor Coordinator North West Regional Drug Task Force, Gwen Mc Kenna N.E Family Support Network, John Taaffe National Coordinator IBDI as well as a number of representatives from parish projects nationwide.
  • The IBDI works to mobilize parishes to help in the prevention of substance misuse. It only takes one individual with little effort to begin the process, and in partnership with other services the IBDI working with parishes, aims to prevent or reduce the problems associated with substance misuse.  Our Initiative supports parish communities to respond in four areas of prevention:

– Awareness / Information
– Education / Training
– Alternative Activities to Substance misuse
– Mobilising to Support  Communities

  • The IBDI’s new DVD will give the viewer an understanding of the positive differences a small coordinated pastoral response to alcohol & other drugs can make to individuals, families, schools as well as to the wider parish community.

Further information:

Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444