Growing interest in Confirmation pledge to abstain from alcohol, smoking, vaping and drugs

by | 22 Mar, 2024 | Church, News

Mr Darren Butler (pictured), National Coordinator the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative (IBDI), has informed CatholicNews.ie of a renewed interest in taking the pledge to abstain from alcohol and drugs at Sacrament of Confirmation ceremonies.  The work of the IBDI is to mobilise parish communities to work in partnership with other service providers as a pastoral response to prevent alcohol and drug misuse in the local area.  This work is rolled out using education, awareness and alternative activities.

Mr Butler said, “for generations, taking the Confirmation Pledge has been a regular part of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.  However, in recent times, the pledge has been considered by some to be outdated or old fashioned.  In order to highlight the value of taking the pledge to young people, both from faith and health perspectives, the IBDI has worked on a new initiative for schools to facilitate a programme called ‘The Commitment’.  Since the programme’s launch, there has seen an increase in parishes and schools seeking support in facilitating the pledge

“Young people today can find drugs and alcohol from many different sources.  Whether at home, at school, or online, teens often have relatively easy access to illegal substances.  There is not one town or village in Ireland where drugs and alcohol are not available.  In this context, getting out helpful and objective information to local communities on their consequences, and in an accessible form to our young people, is an inordinate challenge.”

“Unfortunately, interest in taking the pledge can come from a sense of fear in some communities.  ‘The Commitment’ asks the children to abstain from alcohol, smoking and vaping until 18 years-of-age, and all other illegal drugs for life.  Research shows that the longer young people refrain from using alcohol then the less likely it will be that they develop dependency issues later in life.  In addition, the pledge or commitment is a positive way to encourage young people to lead a healthy lifestyle.  With today’s scientific knowledge we know that those young people who abstain from alcohol possess a healthier growing brain.  Furthermore, the use of alcohol by under eighteens can cause emotional problems as well as difficulties with memory and learning.  In the interest of the quality of life of young people, IBDI encourages that vaping and smoking should be added to the commitment, but ideally these are discussions that are recommended between parents/guardians and the young people.”

Mr Butler concluded, “The plan for 2025 is to commission resource videos, involving individual modules for teachers or parish representatives, and that these would complement the Grow in Love primary school religious education programme.  The Confirmation pledge module will also have downloadable resources to encourage discussion within the Confirming group.  A Commitment Prayer bookmark for the Confirmation sponsors will be available along with a commitment prayer card for all Confirmation candidates.  This card can then be read out to assist in making their commitment,” Mr Butler said.

Over 100 years ago the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association identified the dangers of alcohol for families and society and, over time, has helped prevent young people experimenting with alcohol.  The PTAA has been responsible in supporting thousands of people to lead a more faith-filled, healthy lifestyle.

Separately, there are also plans for a season two of the IBDI’s Leave Your Mark podcast, which will include a number of episodes for parents/guardians with support and advice.  For further information on the work of the Irish Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative, please contact Darren Butler at [email protected]  and see https://irishbishopsdrugsinitiative.ie/

ENDS

 

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