Dear Reader,

We invite you to join us for a special Holy Mass in St. Michael’s Church, Ballinasloe, on the above Feast Day, Friday 16th June at 7 pm, and to a Social Gathering immediately afterwards (7.50 – 8.50 pm) in Gullane’s Hotel, Main St., Ballinasloe.

Our guest presider will be Most Rev. Michael Duignan, Bishop of Clonfert and Galway dioceses, and our guest homilist, Fr. Robert McCabe, National Spiritual Director of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (PTAA herein).

During this Holy Mass existing and new Pioneers will have an opportunity to renew / take PTAA pledge, and children and teenagers over the age of ten, who have the consent of their parents and guardians, will have an opportunity to take a special pledge enabling them to become Young Pioneers.

Additional Information for Parents & Guardians of Children interested in joining the PTAA

For many years it was customary for Catholic families, schools and parishes to encourage children to take a pledge at the time of their Confirmation to refrain from taking alcohol until they were older and to refrain from illegal drugs for life.

While fear of the effects of alcohol and drug misuse provides a sound basis for encouraging children to abstain, there is also another basis, a spiritual basis rooted in love of God and neighbour. The latter is the way of our Association, with a special desire to be supportive of teenagers and adults who experience addiction.

Greatly encouraged by Bishop Michael Duignan, the Ballinasloe PTAA Centre, with support from neighbouring centres, has embarked on a special project.

With Bishop Michael’s and local clergy support, and with support from teachers and principals of the Clonfert Diocese’s Catholic Primary School network, we are seeking to introduce as many 5th and 6th Class pupils as possible to the PTAA and its spirituality.

Fifth and Sixth Class pupils who express an interest in becoming Young Pioneers will be (or have been) given a letter to bring home to their parents / guardians informing them of this web page, of the PTAA website (, and of our celebrations on the Friday 16th June 2023.

If your child has expressed interest and you are supportive of him or her taking a pledge to abstain from alcohol until they reach their eighteenth birthday and from illegal drugs for life, and you are also supportive of their interest in becoming a Young Pioneer, please come with them to the Holy Mass and Social Gathering mentioned above.

From 6.30 pm n the evening of the Holy Mass there will be a pop-up shop in the forecourt of St. Michael’s Church where you or your child will be able to purchase a Juvenile Pioneer Pin at a cost of €8.00.

During the Holy Mass, there will be a moment after the homily, when every child who wishes to become a Young Pioneer will be invited to stand and take the pledge and then the adult who is accompanying them will be invited to assist them place their Pioneer Pin on their jumper or jacket etc. Each child will also receive a Pledge Card that will include the Pioneer prayer, a prayer they will be encouraged to pray daily.

We hope that all who come to the special Holy Mass will also come to our Social Gathering. Tea / coffee, orange squash, blackcurrent, biscuits and crisps will be available. The hotel bar will also be accessible to all who wish to avail of an alcoholic beverage.

We will also have a table at the Social Gathering where children and adults will be able to register their interest regarding membership of a Pioneer Youth Club that will meet monthly for social and fun activities, and that will also incorporate a light spiritual and educational dimension.

The Pioneer Youth Club, subject to their being sufficient interest, will be advanced in keeping with Safeguarding best practice, and will be preceded by a meeting of interested parents.

Finally, if you and your child would like a reminder of our special celebration nearer the time please register your interest by contacting us via WhatsApp on 087 6171526, or by email via .

Additional Information for Catholic School Principals and Sixth Class Teachers

If you would like to to arrange a free in-school age-appropriate PowerPoint presentation on the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart for your Fifth and Sixth Class pupils please contact the Ballinasloe PTAA centre via 087 6171526 / .

The PowerPoint presentation is timed to take twenty to twenty-five minutes and our presenters (who are Garda Vetted) are open to following the presentation with a ten-minute conversation with the children.

A PDF version of the presentation is available to principals and teachers on request.

Additional Information for Existing Pioneers and Adults Interested in Joining or Rejoining the PTAA

Pins, Certificates etc.

From 6.30 pm on the evening of the Holy Mass (16th June) there will be a pop-up shop in the forecourt of St. Michael’s Church where Pioneer Pins, Clasps, Brooches and Rings will be available to purchase. If you have a query regarding cost please visit the Price List link on the homepage of the PTAA website: .

Joining or Rejoining the PTAA

Any adult over 18 who has abstained from alcohol for at least one year in the immediate prior period may apply for lifelong membership. The commitment sought of members is:

  • to abstain from all alcoholic drink
  • to wear the Pioneer emblem
  • recite the Pioneer prayer twice daily

Some members also choose to participate in Centre meetings, social gatherings, e.g. an annual ball, and / or spiritually nourishing events, e.g. retreat days, but these are not essential to membership.

During the Holy Mass mentioned above, and prior to interested children taking the Young Pioneer Pledge, existing pioneers and adults interested in joining or rejoining the PTAA will be invited to take the adult pledge. Once they have taken the pledge, new and re-joining members may begin to wear their pioneer pin, clasp, brooch or ring.

There will also be a table at our Social Gathering where adults will be able to register their membership and sign up (if they wish) to a Ballinasloe PTAA news service.

Further Information

If you have any questions regarding any of the above please contact Justin Harkin (Ballinasloe) on 087 6171526 / or Ann Gately (Laurencetown) on 087 2970616.

Updated: 22nd April 2023


The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart was founded in 1898 in Gardiner Street, Dublin, by Fr James Cullen SJ, Mrs Anne Egan, Miss Lizzie Power, Mrs Mary Bury and Mrs A.M. Sullivan.

The primary aim of the Association  is the promotion of sobriety and temperance through:

  • faith and prayer;
  • self-denial leading to inner freedom;
  • setting beneficial example to others;
  • presenting alternatives to the drinking and drug scene, particularly to young people.

The duty of a Pioneer is to build a society where people live to their full potential. We reach out to those who suffer from alcohol-related harm.

The Pioneer, like all Christians, is convinced that the love of God, as revealed in Jesus, is central to their lives.

For more information please visit .