‘Building a society where alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation’ - Bishop Donal McKeown

Bishop Donal McKeown.
Bishop Donal McKeown.

Pioneers are not condemners or escapers, their vision is to help build a society where people live to their full potential and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation, avoiding the ills that arise in society from excess in its use.

These were the words of the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, speaking at the Derry Diocesan annual Pioneer Mass.

In his inspiring and wide ranging homily, Dr. Donal McKeown stated that Jesus had not come to add new laws but to help people believe that by using God’s grace they were capable of great things.

He pointed out that the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association was set up in a time when huge damage was being done with alcohol.

Pioneers are not condemners or escapers, their vision based on the love in the Heart of Christ, as expressed in the Gospels, is to help build a society where people live to their full potential and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation, avoiding the ills that arise in society from excess in its use.

Pioneers and their friends from County Derry, Inishowen, Derry City and North West Tyrone Deaneries attended the annual Derry Diocesan Pioneer Mass which was celebrated in St. John the Baptist Church, Swatragh, County Derry.

The chief celebrant was Most Rev. Dr Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, with Very Rev. Kieran O’Doherty P.P. VF Granaghan, Rev. Colm Rafferty, retired missionary, Rev. Karl Haan, CC Errigal, Rev John Downey, Derry Diocesan Pioneer Chaplain, and Rev. Thomas Canning, CC Three Patrons.

The lessons were read by Eimear Cassidy, Granaghan and Sean Bradley, Granaghan and the gifts were brought to the altar by Jane Lagan, Granaghan and Mary Gunning, Granaghan.

Bishop McKeown asked for prayers for the success of the Synod on “Vocation and Mission of the family in the Church and in the Contemporary World” which continues in Rome until October 25, 2015.

“We should pray”, he said, “that bishops there can proclaim the vocation and mission of the family and extended family in a way that inspired people to believe that relationships, faithfulness and generosity can be wonderful, and also in a way that engages mercifully with the realities of people’s lives, as Jesus did.

He continued that: “Mercy is not about lowering expectations but about encouraging beautiful behaviour and forgiving people who fail while trying. Saints are merely sinners who never stopped trying.”

Mass Father Downey thanked Dr McKeown for celebrating the annual Pioneer Mass and for his inspiring homily.

He also thanked Father Kieron O’Doherty for all his help and co-operation, the readers, those who had presented the offertory gifts and the altar server.

On behalf of Granaghan and district Pioneer Associations he then invited all present to refreshments in the nearby Michael Davitt GAA Hall.