Jesuits should hand over Pioneer premises to Peter McVerry
Sir, – Many or most of your readers will find it hard to remember that the Pioneer Association was once seen as an important part of the social fabric of Irish life. Declining membership of the association and the age profile of its members in Ireland goes hand in hand with the fall-off in the influence of the Catholic Church. These are issues that make changes inevitable. Also the decline in vocations within the Jesuit community in Ireland is very real and they say they no longer have the capacity to involve their order in it. The Jesuits were the mainstay by way of keeping the association focused for over a hundred years on developing its spiritual message through the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus both in Ireland and around the world.
The 27 Upper Sherrard Dublin Street address has served the Pioneers for nearly 80 years and the Jesuits have in their remit to take back this iconic building for their own use. The Pioneers have recently been moved to a new address in Clontarf and their future is as a private association without Jesuit involvement. Initially the information concerning the future of the Sherrard Street building was that it was part of the Jesuit portfolio and would be used for the benefit of their community.
The passing on of the Sherrard Street building to the Peter Mc Verry Trust should be made. This would help alleviate the housing crisis in Dublin, and it should be dedicated it to the Venerable Matt Talbot, a Dubliner and a Pioneer of immense stature. This should be done without any claw-back and no strings attached by the Jesuit order as the association moves on to a new beginning.
It is the most fitting way to show the Jesuits’ commitment to the housing crisis and to its founder Fr James Cullen SJ and to the Pioneer Association and Fr Peter McVerry SJ.
As a life time member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association and as an activist in promoting the Pioneer message over many decades I feel confident that the above reflects the views of Pioneers in Dublin and beyond. – Yours, etc,