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Lenten Period

LENT:   Alcohol – Our Culture – Our Challenge


With alcohol costing our country billions a year, along with the trail of destruction it leaves in its wake to individuals, families and communities. It is a positive sign to finally see movement towards the Government addressing the issues and standing up the powerful drinks industry. This 3.7 billion cost is caused by the effect on health, crime and finances caused by alcohol.


As Lent approaches, it is a good time to discuss and look at our attitude and our personal choices in relation to alcohol and other drugs. The Irish Bishops’ Drugs initiatives “ Pastoral Response to substance Misuse” wishes to highlight how we all as church can play a part in reducing the related problems alcohol misuse is causing. The Initiative is working in over one hundred and fifty parishes nationwide helping mobilise parish communities to prevent substance use / misuse. Many parishes are playing pivot roles in helping reduce the harms through the provision of a community mobilization approach which help with the following.


  • Alcohol Information & Awareness
  • Substance Misuse Education & Training
  • Alternatives activities to avoid substance use
  • Promoting parish support agencies


One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1856, Father Theobold Mathew passed away after a life dedicated to tackling the problems caused by the excessive use of alcohol. His founding ‘The Temperance Movement’ (Temperance is the virtue of moderation in all things) was to cause a huge shift away from excessive drinking in Ireland at the time. The Venerable Matt Talbot, who today is a source of encouragement and hope to many of those who find themselves addicted to alcohol.


Others get great consolation and support through filling the void of alcohol with the help of prayer or belief in a higher power such as God. Along with others we are working to help parishes play a small but important part in the provision of a pastoral response to help prevent substance misuse.


Going forward as a society we need to agree what is acceptable to tolerate or not with regard to drunkenness, harm to self, to others, protection of children and families.

Parents have the greatest influence, power and responsibility over their children especially when it comes to alcohol misuse. Parents and guardians are in the position to show by example and should consider, not getting drunk, not sending out the message that alcohol is the only way to cope or have confidence, or the only way to have a good time. Below are some practical suggestions to consider at this Lenten time which can be a challenge for us all.


  • ·         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 monies saved from abstaining from alcohol to a charity of your choice.
  • ·         Give some time to voluntary or charitable work
  • ·         Encourage prayer within family or personal remembering those affected by alcohol
  • ·         Encourage discussion with your friends about the dangers of excessive drinking.
  • ·         Nationally, we might encourage people to reduce their alcohol use.



Parishes working with the Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse

We all as individuals can help reduce the problems of substance misuse. We need to mobilize to look at ways to change our cultural perception towards alcohol while addressing ways to help prevent. There are many ways parishes and individuals can be involved in preventing substance misuse, this can be done in very basic way’s involving one or two people, or can involve a committee of people that can look at responses to the needs of parish communities.


To receive further information on any of the above, or wish to receive a DVD on our initiative please contact us in the Columba Centre in Maynooth 01-5053044 or by email at ibdi@iecon.ie  also check out our new website at www.irishbishopsdrugsinitiative.com


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