St MacNissi's
Catholic Church

Pioneer Total Abstinence Association

Ireland has had a long and sad history of alcohol abuse. It was to address this problem - with its many personal and social consequences - that Fr James Cullen SJ founded the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in 1898. Fr Cullen realised that one effective way to counter alcohol abuse was through prayer combined with self sacrifice, as lived out by abstaining from alcohol for life.

The Pioneer motives are well expressed in the Pioneer Offering Prayer, which members are required to recite twice daily:

For thy greater glory and consolation, O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
For Thy sake,
To give good example,
To practise self denial,
To make reparation to Thee for the sins of intemperance,
And for the conversion of excessive drinkers,
I will abstain for life from all intoxicating drink.

Pioneers are not anti-alcohol. They recognise that alcohol is one of God’s gifts (Jesus turned water into wine at Cana) - but it must be used in moderation. The Pioneer vision is to create a culture within society which encourages and supports people, particularly young people, to grow and participate to their full potential, free from the pressure to misuse alcohol, or to take illegal or harmful drugs.

There are two main Pioneer membership categories:

  1. YOUNG PIONEER. Each year in the parish, Primary 7 pupils of Mount St Michael’s and Creggan Primary Schools are invited to become Young Pioneers. They undertake to abstain from alcohol until they are 18 years old, and to stay off drugs for life. They are also asked to wear their YP pin and to say a daily offering prayer to be faithful to their promise and to intercede for problem drinkers. By abstaining until they are 18, it is hoped that they will be better equipped to use alcohol responsibly.
  2. PERMANENT PIONEER. A Pioneer is a person 16 years old or over who has made a life commitment to:
    1. Abstain from all alcoholic drink;
    2. Recite the Pioneer Prayer twice daily;
    3. Wear the Pioneer emblem publicly.

A probationary period may be required for someone who has taken alcohol within one year before enrolment.

Fidelity to the Pioneer life commitment is recognised by the award of a Silver Pin after 25 years and a Gold Pin after 50 years.

If you became a Pioneer years ago but, for one reason or another, you have ‘drifted away’, we would encourage you to consider renewing your Pioneer commitment.

If you require any further information, or wish to apply for Pioneer membership, please contact Mrs Lucia Hurrell on 028 9447 2913 or James McKeown on 028 9447 2603.

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