Its effects on family life, society and youth

How much longer can American society ignore this ever-growing, world-wide problem asks Michael Higgins  

Few problems facing our nation pose a greater threat to our well-being than drug abuse and drug trafficking. Yet I often sense a sort of complacency from some sectors of the community about the drug problem. People often speak of drugs as though the issue was somebody else’s problem. The sad truth is that the drug problem is everybody’s problem. No matter where you live or who you are, there is no escape. The dangers we are facing are well known, especially the threat to the next generation. With each new survey that is released, we are discovering that our young people are increasingly experimenting with drugs.


This new trend, which first started to emerge in 1991, has been reflected in several recent studies, including the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey of adolescent drug use.

Each of these studies has documented an increased use of marijuana among teenagers. In addition, studies done by many agencies confirm that more adolescents are experimenting with marijuana and that today’s marijuana is much more potent than that of 10 years ago. Most young people don’t know that smoking marijuana is far more dangerous than smoking tobacco cigarettes, has four times more tar than a cigarette, and that daily usage can cause five times greater lung damage than cigarettes.


I am deeply concerned that we have young people experimenting with this dangerous drug who have no idea what marijuana can do to them. Research indicates that many of our young people no longer believe that drug use is harmful, or they know the facts but don’t care. Their attitudes about drugs are changing. So, we have a problem, one that President Bush and other government leaders view with alarm, It is no secret why some children turn to drugs: many are searching for something that is missing in their lives, usually that all-important sense of belonging.

The challenge is to help these young people grow up with a clear mind and reach their full potential. For that to happen, we must give them reliable alternatives to illicit drugs.

Turning a blind eye

We also have to continuously inform the public about how drugs and crime intersect, creating havoc in many of our neighbourhoods and communities. With the concern about rising crime everywhere, it should be easy to dollar get the nation to focus on the link between violent crime and drugs. But this, unfortunately, is often a tough selling point, even though statistics document the paramount role of drugs in criminal activity. even though statistics document the paramount role of drugs in criminal activity. For example, more than half of the 12 million people arrested in any given year are under the influence of drugs and /or alcohol at the time of arrest. Most of these individuals, end up being released on their own recognizance or placed on probation without benefit of supervision or treatment, and more than half of these are rearrested within two years following release.

Crime and Societal costs

Drugs and alcohol factor in the commission of being of the family 33% of all murders and manslaughters, 40% of all aggravated assaults, and 45% of all rapes, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the US. The societal costs associated with incarceration, criminal case processing, victimisation, accidents and lost property due to substance abuse-related crime total more than $62 billion annually, with $46 billion directly attributed to drugs.

Positive Goal

Past drug control strategies have ignored the need to provide treatment to hardcore drug addicts. However, the 1994 National Drug Control Strategy recognized that we have to provide treatment for this population if we are to effectively address the drug problem and the problems of crime and violence in America. To that end, we set a goal of reducing the number of chronic hardcore drug users by 5% each year.

Lack of Political Support

President Clinton asked for a record $355 million to treat 140,000 more chronic hardcore drug users in his 1994 budget request, yet Congress appropriated only $57 million. We requested $200 million in drug treatment programs in the crime bill package but only $29 million was appropriated to drug courts. It has been proven that drug treatment, when it is done right, reduces criminality and saves money in the long run. A California study showed that for every dollar spent on treatment, seven dollars are returned to society largely in the form of reduced public spending on crime and health care.

Ireland’s Drinking Culture

Forty percent of families today are affected by the use of chemicals in their home. Some family members because of the use of drugs and/or alcohol, disrupts family life. This causes arguments, unrest in the home, neglect of children with regard to their formation and often leads to divorce. Ireland, like many other countries, has developed a drinking culture, which leads to drunkenness and excessive financial spending when the money should be used for the needs and the well-being of the family.

Rev. Msgr. Michael Higgins, M.A., D.D, LCD

The reunion of Priest and Religious for the year 2000 will take place on Sunday 13th at the ll.30.a.m. Mass.

Luncheon and a brief social will follow immediately after Mass at the New Park Hotel.

The principal celebrant will be Father Frank V Carr, S.S.C. of Dalgan Park, Navan and who served in Korea for many years. Father John O’Gorman will lead the singing. Msgr. Michael Higgins of San Diego, California will act as Master of ceremonies and give the homily.

All the people of the parish are invited to attend the Mass and welcome our visitors.

The Athenry Reunion of Priests and Religious was formed in 1976 and the first meeting took place in August I979. Other meetings have been held since that time. The purpose of the reunion is to give an opportunity for the religious and priests to meet and to share about their work and ministry that they are doing in the different parts of the world. The next reunion will take place this August and our theme will be “A Prophet to the Nations”.

The liturgy for the reunion will be Sunday, August 9, at the 11.30am Mass. Everyone is invited to attend and participate in the liturgy. The celebrant will be Father Sean Atkinson. He will be assisted by Father Anthony King, P. P. and Father Francis Carr. Liam Cummins, R.S.M. will give the reflection and the local community will be a part of the celebration. There will be a luncheon after Mass at the New Park Hotel for the visiting religious and priests.

There are many people who have responded to the words of Jesus, “come and follow me” and made a decision to follow a vocation in the priesthood and religious life. A vocation is a commitment to live a life of faith, hope and prayer. A vocation is a gift of love where you are challenged to witness the values and teachings of gospel.

At the present time eighty-three priests, sisters and brothers from the Athenry parish have taken on this challenge and have responded to the call of Jesus. They have played a vital part in the missionary work of the church not only in Ireland but in many countries around the world. They have worked in over twenty different countries and have established schools, churches, hospitals and social services.

Rev. Msgr. Michael Higgins, Castle Lambert, based in the Diocese of San Diego, California (Reunion Co-ordinator)

Reverend Sean Atkinson, Athenry, based in the USA

Sister Mary Cavil. O.L.A. Derrydonnell, Ireland

Sister Francis Carr, R.S.M., Ballyboggan, England

Reverend Francis Carr, S.S.C. Ballyboggan Ireland

Sister M.Dolores Cloonan,O.S.C – Newcastle, Ireland

Sister Benignus Coffey, P.B.V.M., Ballybackagh, USA

Reverend John Corbett,C.Ss.R.,  Athenry, Ireland

Brother Malachy Corbett, F.S.P., Newcastle, Australia

Sister Raymond Corbett, O.P., Athenry, Ireland

Sister Nuala Courtney, P.B.V.M, CastleLambert, Ireland

Reverend William Cummins, Coldwood, Ireland

Sister Margaret Cummins, O.L.A. Coldwood, England

Sister Eileen Cummins, O.L.A., Coldwood, Netherlands

Sister Gretta Cummins, R.S.M. Derrydonnell, England

Sister Liam Cummins, R.S.M., Derrydonnell, England

Sister Claire Marie Curran, O.P. Capaghmoyle, Ireland

Sister Agnes Curran, R.S.M., Capaghmoyle, Ireland

Reverend Bernard Duffy, Athenry, Ireland

Sister Jarlath Duffy, P.B.V.M., Athenry, Ireland

Sister Rita Egan, O.S.A., Coshla, Ireland

Sister Cecilia Fahy, C.C.V.I.Carnaun, USA

Sister Mary Finn, S.T., Moorpark, USA

Sister Teresa Finnerty, S.H.F., Cormacuagh,France

Sister Claire Fitzpatrick, R.S.C., Gloves, Ireland

Reverend Mark Fitzsimon, C.Ss.R., Newline, Athenry, Ireland

Sister Rosemary Fitzsimon, O.S.U., Newline,  Athenry, Ireland

Reverend Joseph Fitzsimons, O.S.A., Newline,  Athenry, Wales

Sister Jarlath Flynn, S.P., Athenry, Ireland

Sister Mary Fox, S.M.G., Boyhill, Venezuela

Sister Gabriel Freeney, P.B.V.M., Derrydonnell, Ireland

Brother Gerald Gannon, F.S.P., Shudane, India

Sister Mary Gannon, P.B.V.M., Shudane, Ireland

Reverend Monsignor Michael Glynn, Knockbrack, USA

Sister Nora Glynn, R.S.H., Knockbrack, Ireland

Sister Cermelita Glynn, S.B.S., Athenry, USA

Sister Mary Teresa Glynn, S.B.S., Athenry, USA

Sister Andrew Hession, O.S.A., north Gatest., Athenry, England

Reverend Monsignor Patrick Higgins, Castle Lambert, USA

Reverend Richard Higgins, Castle Lambert, Ireland

Sister Magdalen Higgins, D.C., Coshla, Ireland

Brother Peter Higgins, F.S.P., Coshla, Australia,

Sister Madeline Houlihan, P.B.V.M., Cross Street, Athenry, Ireland

Sister Raphael Hynes, S.B.S., Cross St., Athenry, USA

Sister Jarlath Jennings, L.S.P., Gloves, England

Sister Teresa Jennings, L.V.N., Coldwood, England

Sister Carmel Jordan, P.B.V.M. Davis St., Athenry, Ireland

Sister Sylvia Jordan, P.B.V.M., Davis Street, Athenry, USA

Sister Colm Keane, S.J.C., Greethill, Ireland

Sister Eileen Kearney, P.B.V.M., Old Church St., Athenry, Peru

Sister Bernadette Keating, P.B.V.M., Caheroyan, Athenry, Ireland

Sister Brenda Kelly, M.S.H.R., Clough, West Africa

Reverend Christopher Kilkelly, Ballydavid, Ireland

Reverend Nicholas King, Prospect, Athenry, USA

Sister Margaret King, P.B.V.M., Athenry, Chile

Reverend Paul Madden, Ballydavid, Peru

Sister Alban Mannion, C.C.V.I., Gloves, USA

Sister Pauline McGuinness, R.J.M., Athenry, Ireland

Sister Bridie Mc Inerney, R.S.M. Derrydonnell, Ireland

Sister Colette Mc Inerney, S.J.G., Derrydonnell, Australia

Sister. de Lourdes Mclaughlin, R.S.M, Derrydonnell, Lebanon

Reverend Edward Mcloughlin, Athenry, USA

Reverend Luke Mcloughlin, Athenry, USA

Reverend Nicholas Mcloughlin, Athenry, USA

Reverend Robert McNamara, C.Ss.R., Prospect, Athenry, Ireland

Sister Alphonsus Monaghan, O.S.A., Blean, England

Sister Catherine Mullins, S.M.G. Rahard, Ireland

Sister Angela Murphy, P.B.V.M., Tiaquin, Ireland

Sister Eugenia Murphy, P.B.V.M., Tiaquin, Ireland

Sister Teresa Murphy, P.B.V.M., Tiaquin, Ireland

Sister Patrick Nolan, R.S.C., Gloves, USA

Reverend Monsignor Richard O’Keeffe, Ols Church St. Athenry, USA

Sister Mary O’Regan, P.B.V.M., Swangate, Athenry, Ireland

Reverend Monsignor Joseph Pollard, Cross St. Athenry USA

Sister John Rabbitt, P.S.N., Cahertymore, Ireland

Reverend Martin Rabbitte, Castle Ellen, USA

Reverend Brian Reynolds, O.P. Prospect, Athenry, Ireland

Reverend Michael Rooney, S.M.A. Coldwood, USA

Sister Mary Francis Rooney, M.P.F Athenry, England

Sister Brendan Sherlock, O.U., Tiaquin, England

Sister Kieran Somers, Newfort, O.S.A, Athenry, England

Sister Helen Waldron, S.M.G., Mulpit, England

Sister Rosalie Walsh, D.C., Ballybackagh, Scotland

No matter who we are, where we are, or what we are, all human beings have the power to give something to someone.

In Webster’s dictionary gift is defined in four ways:

1) a notable capacity or talent;
2) something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation;
3) the act, right, or power of giving;
4) to endow with some power, quality, or attribute.

In considering a Principal within the School System as “gift” we reach beyond the professional role to the person who gives oneself to a very important ministry within the Church.

All aspects of Webster’s definitions become integrated as the person of the Principal accepts administrative tasks and leadership responsibilities as the vehicle to give to the Lord, to the school community and intrinsically to the whole Mystical Body whatever version, direction, growth, and education that person is able to reflect through his or her personhood, personality, professionalism, and promise.

I was a student at Carnaun School from 1943-1951 and I was asked to write and give some reflections on the Tim O’Regan who was principal at that time.  Studies highlighting the position of the principal have identified several key role demands, which in order of importance are.. instructional leader; manager of time and resources; communicator; observer and evaluator of staff; creator of school climate; and leader in goal setting and attainment, school-community relations, discipline, and teacher support.  The principal’s central administrative role in schools requires expertise in many diverse areas: personnel, finances, community relations, curriculum and supervision, and catholic leadership.

The main function of the principal is to take the talent of the staff, release it and put it to purpose.  As U. S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennet put it, the principal leads, inspires and brings out the best from dedicated, motivated teaching staffs.  This is an art and such an art Tim had as one of his endless qualities.

Carnaun always had a great spirit among the students.  Tim established its patterns of discipline, and gave the students a vision of what life can be.  He had no doubt about the identity of the school and it always had a real Christian presence.  Tim was not only a good administrator, a master teacher but was also very open.  St. Benedict said that the role of the abbot is to listen to every monk, including the youngest, and affirm the truth wherever it is present.  St. Ignatius in his rule for the discernment of spirits relates the same idea.  Tim was also very responsive to the needs of the students and was both pleasant and pleasing.  He was very human in his approach and always showed a great respect for the human person and the student.

It can be said that Tim was a principal and master teacher par excellence.  On two different occasions he received the Carlisle and Blake Award.  This was given by the Department of Education and was done upon the recommendation of senior inspectors of the Department of Education.  It was given because he was an efficient administrator and also for the high educational standards in the school.  It is unusual that the award be given twice to the same person but this shows the recognition and the good reputation that he had in the academic community.
I could write much about the character and personality of Tim but I would like to end this on a personal note. I will always be eternally grateful for the interest that he took in me as a student.  He was very supportive and encouraged me in my studies.  When I came home on vacation from secondary school after leaving Carnaun, he would always stop and talk to me.  He manifested a keen interest in my progress.

I remember shortly before ordination I had a letter from him and how happy he was for me.  Tim was not able to be present for my first Mass in Athenry on April 1, 1964 due to illness and hospitalisation.  However, the other teachers did attend and later that day joined us in the festivities at the family home.  Afterwards I visited him in the hospital a few times and we talked about many things. I could see that he was a man with much wisdom and charisma.  He was the first person that encouraged me to do graduate studies and told me I was capable of doing scientific research. I will always remember how he affirmed me and for that I will always be grateful.

So, Tim O’Regan was truly a gift in every sense of the word.

By Fr. Michael Higgins, M.A., D.D., D. C. L. Diocese of San Diego, California.

During my years at Carnaun School I was always impressed with the way that the teachers promoted religious vocations.  They certainly showed a great interest in the missionary activity of the Church.  The words of Jesus, “come and follow me” were very much a reality’ in the school programme.  We had talks given to us by priests and religious on vocations and the fulfillment that it can bring to a person’s life.  It was many of these talks that helped students to make a decision to follow a vocation in the priesthood or religious life.

Vocation to the priesthood and religious life is a call and decision for the Lord.  Vocation is a life of faith, leaping for a journey that will take you where you have never been.  Vocation is a life of hope, responding through prayer to a discerning call to make a difference.  Vocation is a gift of love, witnessing to the prophetic mission of gospel values.  In the light of this challenge many students of Carnaun School have responded to the call of Jesus and have played a vital part in the missionary activity of the Church not only here in Ireland but in many other countries around the world.  This is very obvious from the brief biographical sketches that follow of former students.

Delia Coffey (1922) joined the Presentation Sisters in New York.  After receiving a M. A. in Mathematics from Fordham University she taught in many different schools which are staffed by the Presentation Sisters.  Her students won many awards and scholarships as a result of her excellent teaching and are now enjoying their professional careers as mathematicians.  She also received grants for research in the field of mathematics.  Besides her many activities, she also found time in teaching “The Native American Indians”.

John Walsh (1924) studied for the priesthood in All Hallows College, Dublin.  He was ordained in the Church of the Assumption, Athenry in 1935 for the Diocese of Middlesborough.  Since then he has served in different parts of the Diocese and is presently retired.

Julia Fahy (1928) studied at the Presentation Covent, Athenry and afterwards entered the Incarnate Words Community in Dunmore.  For almost sixty years she has served the Church in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas.  She has held different positions with her community and was responsible for running an orphanage for about 20 years.  She is presently retired but still has a very active life.  She now enjoys visiting the elderly and shut-ins.

Rosalie Walsh (1936) entered the Daughters of Charity in 1942.  During her religious life she has been involved in health care and nursing in the various hospitals run by her community.  She has served as Administrator for some years in St. Mary’s Hospital, Lanark, Scotland.  However, in recent years she has become involved in pastoral ministry to those who are terminally ill and home visitation to the elderly which she enjoys.

Paddy Higgins (1943) studied for the priesthood at St. Peter’s College, Wexford.  He was ordained in 1954 for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas.  Since then he has served in different parishes of the Diocese and is presently Pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Corpus Christi.
During his term as Pastor, St. Patrick’s School was among the 230 elementary schools to receive the “National Award for Excellence in Education”.  Over 80,000 elementary schools in the United States competed for the award.  The award was presented at the White House in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan.  He has also received many other awards and in 1968 he was selected as Rural Minister of the year in the state of Texas and it is given each year by Texas A & M University.

John Corbett (1947) studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1960 in Cluain Mhuire, Galway for the Redemptorist Congregation.  Since then he has been assigned to different Redemptorist Colleges in Ireland.  However, he has spent most of his priestly life at the Marianella House of Studies in Dublin.

Richard Higgins (1948) was ordained at St. Peter’s College, Wexford in 1958 for the Diocese of Motherwell, Scotland where he served for many years.  In recent years he worked in the Diocese of Galway and was Chaplain at the University College Hospital, Galway.  He is presently assigned to the parish of Maree, Oranmore.  He has many hobbies including golf.  He has shown a keen interest in the development of the Athenry Golf Club and this past year served as its President.

Martin Rabbitt (1947) studied for the priesthood at Moyne Park, Ballyglunin.  He was ordained in 1960 for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at twenty three years of age.  He was the youngest ever to be ordained for the Order.  After two years of teaching in England, he left for Indonesia where he served the Church for six years and afterwards in the United States for twenty years.  He is presently assigned to a parish in Hertfordshire, England.

Anne Cooley (1949) and Mae Cooley (1949) were professed in the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, Ferbane, Offaly.  They have worked in different assignments in their community both in England and Australia.

Mary Finn (1950) entered the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova in the United States.  After spending some years nursing in Paris, she taught secondary school in the United States.  She is presently doing nursing and home visitation of the elderly in a parish.

Breda Rabbitt (1950) joined the Sisters of Nazareth.  She has had different assignments both in Ireland and England especially with the office of development and fund raising for her religious community.  She is presently assigned to Nazareth House, Sligo, where she works taking care of the elderly and the sick.

Michael Higgins (1951) studied for the priesthood at the University of San Diego and was ordained in 1964.  After several years in a parish, he pursued graduate studies in Canon Law and Dogmatic Theology in Washington, D.C. and Rome and obtained his Doctorate in Canon Law and Doctorate in Divinity.  After his return to the Diocese he taught Dogmatic Theology and Canon Law at the University of San Diego.  In 1979 he was chosen as one of the fifty experts out of possible thousands to meet with His Holiness, John Paul 11 when he visited the United States.  His articles and books have gained widespread recognition, especially his book on The Historical and Canonical Development of the Anointing of the Sick.

We also have had three past pupils who have died and gone to their eternal reward.

Joseph Corbett (1944) was ordained for the Redemptorist Community in November, 1955.  After an outstanding academic career, he was asked after ordination to study for the Doctorate of Canon Law in Rome which he obtained with honours.  He was appointed professor of Canon Law at Cluain Mhuire, Galway.  Later in his life he worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago doing counselling and parish work.  He passed to his eternal reward on September 10, 1977.  May he rest in peace.

Patrick Sylvie Duffy (1943) studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Carlow.  He was ordained in 1954 for the Diocese of Yakima in Washington State.
After some years in parish work, he was invited by his bishop to study civil law at Haryard University and obtained his law degree. Later he obtained a Ph.D at Stanford University in California.  As a result of his outstanding academic record at both universities, he was offered the position of Professor of Education at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. In 1976 he accepted a professorship at the University of San Francisco where he was acclaimed more than once teacher of the year.  It was here that he became ill in 1989 and passed to his eternal reward on April 22, 1990.  May he rest in peace.

John Glynn (1912) was ordained to the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome in 1926.  He studied theology at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome where he obtained his degree in theology with honours.  After his ordination he served on the staff at St. Jarlath’s College, Tuam.  Later in his life he served in different parishes in the Archdiocese of Tuam and became Parish Priest of Crossboyne where he served the parish for thirty years until his retirement in 1986.  He was admired for his humility and his great love for the poor.  He passed to his eternal reward on December 25, 1986.  May he rest in peace.

These were gifted priests and possessed exceptional qualities as loyalty to their friends; an understanding of differences; an appreciation of life and a value of time.  They had brilliant minds, constantly searching and questioning.  They were men of prayer and had a remarkable love for the priesthood and the Church.  We can definitely say that the deaths of these gifted priests will leave us and the Church poorer for their passing.

By Michael Higgins, M.A., D.D., D. C.L. Diocese of San Diego, California