On the 21st of March last approximately 20 Young Pioneers from the South Limerick Region attended a Pioneer Activity Day. It took place in the Drombanna Day Care Centre.
When all were settled, two guest speakers from Limerick sporting fame spoke of their experiences of alcohol through sport. The first speaker was Gerry ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin, who won 18 caps for Ireland, played in the famous Munster victory over the All Blacks in 1978, and scored a memorable try in Twickenham during Ireland’s successful Triple Crown campaign in 1982. Up next was Tom Ryan who played hurling in Limericks Senior All Ireland Inter-County team in the 1970s and served as manager of both the Limerick and Westmeath senior inter-county teams in the 1990s and 2000s.
After lunch, the group got creative working on themed art projects. They painted posters and t-shirts, the quality of which impressed all the adults present. The themes ranged form ‘What’s good about being a young person in 2009’, ‘Being a Young Pioneer’, and ‘Designing a Pioneer logo or a logo for Young People’. Free time in the afternoon was eagerly used by many of the participants to finish off their produce.
Dermot Fagan gave a snapshot presentation on the various elements of the Pioneer Association – its history, ethos, spiritual and social dimensions. This was followed by a table quiz that finished just in time for many of the Limerick Rugby fanatics to settle into the Ireland v Wales Grand Slam decider.
Fr. John Walsh celebrated a special mass in the centre for the group in which the young people participated with the readings, prayers of the faithful, gifts and some singing. He asked the young people to take inspiration from Maximilian Kolbe (1894–1941), also known as the “Apostle of Consecration to Mary”, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland. He was canonized by the Catholic Church as Saint Maximilian Kolbe on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, families, and other causes. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".
The evening ended after mass when the girls in the group got excitedly prepared for a Rose Competition. It showed great spirit when they decided to be interviewed and perform sketches or jokes in pairs – especially in that many of them had not met before. The winner of the competition was Marion Lynch from Ballyneety who was shocked, surprised and most of all delighted to be selected as the winner by the audience.
A great lot of credit and thanks must go to the South Limerick Region who was prompted to host this event after some of its younger members and their leaders had attended some of the National Pioneer Youth Weekends. Under the leadership of the chairperson Ann Costello and secretary Kathy O’Riordan, along with Rita Gleeson and Bridget O’Callaghan (Fedamore) all was arranged with precision. The helpers on the day Peter Fagan (Meath Dioc Youth Officer), Maria Timmons (National Youth Committee) and Dermot Fagan (PTAA Youth & Development Officer) were thanked for their help in putting the day together. They returned their thanks to the committee and the young people for their kind hospitality also.
But it is to the participants themselves who deserve the greatest credit – all contributed to the success of the day and are now just waiting for the next such event to come along….