The Israelites made a mistake that we all make. They underestimated the full implications of their vocation. They were convinced, and rightly so, that they were the Chosen People of God. Most of them, however, seem to have had precious little understanding about what this entailed. Over the centuries, different prophets, especially Isaiah, tried to convince them that their divine vocation was not simply to cling tenaciously to the strip of land given them on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and to keep themselves apart from the other peoples on the face of the earth. Their calling was nothing less than to bring the message of salvation to all these nations. Only gradually did it emerge how this was to come about. Isaiah anticipated it several hundred years before the Israelites actually gave us the Messiah. ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the nations, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth’. (Isaiah 49:6.)
The Pioneer Association first saw the light of day in Ireland in 1898. Some 115 years later, Pioneers from different parts of their vast continent will assemble in Nairobi for the Pan-African Congress in August. A few years ago in far-away Lima, Peru, when German Mazuelo-Leyton spoke about the Pioneers to over 1000 young people, one priest reacted with the comment, “How is it that there has been such a charism in the Catholic Church for over a century and we have never heard about it until now?” In April of this year, Raymond O’Connor, our Webmaster, and I presented the Pioneers to different groups in Wisconsin, at the invitation of a Pioneer there, Eddie Cotter. Most people had never heard of the Association but showed a marked openness to the idea.
In September, during our Pioneer Gathering in All Hallows, Dublin, we will have an opportunity to show that the Pioneer Association is not simply ‘an Irish solution to an Irish problem’. It a profoundly Christian contribution, rooted in Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and anchored in Ignatian spirituality to a solution of one of the great problems of the human race – deficiencies in the virtue of temperance.
Bernard J McGuckian SJ, Editor