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LETTER TO THE MEDIA

This letter was written in March 2009 by the World Service of Alcoholics Anonymous addressed to the media and thanking them for there support since 1935. Click here

WORKING WITH THE PROFESSIONAL

If you are a professional AA wants to work with you. We are seeking to strengthen and expand our communication with the helping professional and we welcome your comments and suggestions. They help us to work more effectively with you in achieving our common purpose… To help the still suffering alcoholic. Please read the attached (PDF) leaflet Working with you the Professional….

About AA for the professional. The current newsletter

THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL

Many health care professionals have found effective ways to refer people to Alcoholics Anonymous. Please read this leaflet about how we can support each others objectives to help the alcoholic. Click here for pdf leaflet..

THE PRISON SERVICE

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking . AA has no dues or fees. It is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. Does not wish to engage in any controversy. Neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

A message for the prisons service from AA… leaflet

THE CLERGY

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious society, however we are deeply indebted to members of the clergy of many faiths, who have befriended the fellowship since its founding in 1935. As a member of the clergy, you may have some questions about Alcoholics Anonymous. We have prepared this leaflet to answer most of your questions and if you need more answers we will try to satisfy your request. Questions answered for the Clergy

COOPERATION NOT AFFILIATION

To: Judges, attorneys, probation officers, court-appointed counselors and other referring professionals

Cooperation with the professional community has been an objective of A.A. since our beginnings. We are always seeking to strengthen and expand our communication with you and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Many local A.A. service committees will, upon request, provide informational presentations to you.

How Alcoholics Anonymous Can Be A Resource • What A.A. does • What A.A. does not do

 

Preamble

THE A.A. PREAMBLE

The original version of the “current preamble” as it was first introduced to AA in the June, 1947, Grapevine.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking . AA has no dues or fees. It is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. Does not wish to engage in any controversy. Neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Written by the then editor to describe AA to the Grapevine’s non-AA readers, it has become a part of AA literature. It came to be called the “preamble” because it is so often read at the opening of AA meetings.

Much of the phrasing was borrowed from the foreword to the original edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” where “an honest desire to stop drinking” is described as “the only requirement for membership.”

In the September, 1958, Grapevine, the preamble was first published in its present form. It now appears in much of our literature to tell what AA is and does, as well as what it is not and does not. The Twelve Traditions present a fuller development of most of these ideas.

The current version of the preamble appears on the inside front cover of each Grapevine issue.

Serenity Prayer

THE ORIGIN OF OUR SERENITY PRAYER

As published in BOX-459, August/September, 1992

With Additional Information

For many years, long after the Serenity Prayer became attached to the very fabric of the Fellowship’s life and thought, its exact origin, its actual author, have played a tantalizing game of hide and seek with researchers, both in and out of A.A. The facts of how it came to be used by A.A. a half century ago are much easier to pinpoint.

Early in 1942, writes Bill W., in A.A. Comes of Age, a New York member, Jack, brought to everyone’s attention a caption in a routine New York Herald Tribune obituary that read:

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Everyone in A.A.’s burgeoning office on Manhattan’s Vesey Street was struck by the power and wisdom contained in the prayer’s thoughts. “Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words,” Bill writes. Someone suggested that the prayer be printed on a small, wallet-sized card, to be included in every piece of outgoing mail.

Ruth Hock, the Fellowship’s first (and nonalcoholic) secretary, contacted Henry S., a Washington D.C. member, and a professional printer, asking him what it would cost to order a bulk printing.

Henry’s enthusiastic response was to print 500 copies of the prayer, with the remark: “Incidentally, I am only a heel when I’m drunk .. . so naturally, there could be no charge for anything of this nature.”

“With amazing speed,” writes Bill, “the Serenity Prayer came into general use and took its place alongside our two other favorites, the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis.”

Thus did the “accidental” noticing of an unattributed prayer, printed alongside a simple obituary of an unknown individual, open the way toward the prayer’s daily use by thousands upon thousands of A.A.s worldwide.

But despite years of research by numerous individuals, the exact origin of the prayer is shrouded in overlays of history, even mystery.

Moreover, every time a researcher appears to uncover the definitive source, another one crops up to refute the former’s claim, at the same time that it raises new, intriguing facts. What is undisputed is the claim of authorship by the theologian Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr, who recounted to interviewers on several occasions that he had written the prayer as a “tag line” to a sermon he had delivered on Practical Christianity. Yet even Dr. Niebuhr added at least a touch of doubt to his claim, when he told one interviewer, “Of course, it may have been spooking around for years, even centuries, but I don’t think so. I honestly do believe that I wrote it myself.”

Early in World War II, with Dr. Niebuhr’s permission, the prayer was printed on cards and distributed to the troops by the U.S.O. By then it had also been reprinted by the National Council of Churches, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dr. Niebuhr was quite accurate in suggesting that the prayer may have been “spooking around” for centuries. “No one can tell for sure who first wrote the Serenity Prayer,” writes Bill in A.A. Comes of Age. “Some say it came from the early Greeks; others think it was from the pen of an anonymous English poet; still others claim it was written by an American Naval officer… .” Other attributions have gone as far afield as ancient Sanskrit texts, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and Spinoza. One A.A. member came across the Roman philosopher Cicero’s Six Mistakes of Man, one of which reads: “The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.”

No one has actually found the prayer’s text among the writings of these alleged, original sources. What are probably truly ancient, as with the above quote from Cicero, are the prayer’s themes of acceptance, courage to change what can be changed and the free letting go of what is out of one’s ability to change.

The search for pinpointing origins of the prayer has been like the peeling of an onion. For example, in July 1964, the A.A. Grapevine received a clipping of an article that had appeared in the Paris Herald Tribune, by the paper’s correspondent in Koblenz, then in West Germany. “In a rather dreary hall of a converted hotel, overlooking the Rhine at Koblenz,” the correspondent wrote, is a tablet inscribed with the following words:

“God give me the detachment to accept those things I cannot alter; the courage to alter those things I can alter; and the wisdom to distinguish the one thing from the other.”

These words were attributed, the correspondent wrote, to an 18th century pietist, Friedrich Oetinger (1702-1782). Moreover, the plaque was affixed to a wall in a hall where modern day troops and company commanders of the new German army were trained “in the principles of management and . . . behavior of the soldier citizen in a democratic state.”

Here, at last, thought A.A. researchers, was concrete evidence – quote, author, date – of the Serenity Prayer’s original source. That conviction went unchallenged for fifteen years. Then in 1979 came material, shared with G.S.O.’s Beth K., by Peter T., of Berlin. Peter’s research threw the authenticity of 18th century authorship out the window. But it also added more tantalizing facts about the plaque’s origin.

“The first form of the prayer,” Beth wrote back, originated with Boethius, the Roman philosopher (480-524 A.D.), and author of the book, Consolations of Philosophy. The prayer’s thoughts were used from then on by “religious-like people who had to suffer first by the English, later the Prussian puritans. . . then the Pietists from southwest Germany . . . then A.A.s . . . and through them, the West Germans after the Second World War.

Moreover, Beth continued, after the war, a north German University professor, Dr. Theodor Wilhelm, who had started a revival of spiritual life in West Germany, had acquired the “little prayer” from Canadian soldiers. He had written a book in which he had included the prayer, without attribution, but which resulted in the prayer’s appearance in many different places, such as army officer’s halls, schools and other institutions. The professor’s nom de plume? Friedrich Oetinger, the 18th century pietist! Wilhelm had apparently selected the pseudonym Oetinger out of admiration of his south German forebears.

Back in 1957, another G.S.O. staff member, Anita R., browsing in a New York bookstore, came upon a beautifully bordered card, on which was printed:

“Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, give us Serenity to accept what cannot be changed, Courage to change what should be changed, and Wisdom to know the one from the other; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

The card, which came from a bookshop in England, called it the “General’s Prayer,” dating it back to the fourteenth century! There are still other claims, and no doubt more unearthings will continue for years to come.

In any event, Mrs. Reinhold Niebuhr told an interviewer that her husband was definitely the prayer’s author, that she had seen the piece of paper on which he had written it, and that her husband — now that there were numerous variations of wording – “used and preferred” the following form:

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

While all of these searchings are intriguing, challenging, even mysterious, they pale in significance when compared to the fact that, for fifty years, the prayer has become so deeply imbedded into the heart and soul of A.A. thinking, living, as well as its philosophy, that one could almost believe that the prayer originated in the A.A. experience itself.

Bill made this very point years ago, in thanking an A.A. friend for the plaque upon which the prayer was inscribed: “In creating A.A., the Serenity Prayer has been a most valuable building block – indeed a corner-stone.”

And speaking of cornerstones, and mysteries and “coincidences” — the building where Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office is now located at 475 Riverside Drive borders on a stretch of New York City’s 120th St., between Riverside Drive and Broadway that is now named Reinhold Niebuhr Place.

(A long version of the Prayer)

God grant me the SERENITY to

accept the things I cannot change;

COURAGE to change the things I can;

and WISDOM to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it:

Trusting that He will make all things

right if I surrender to His Will;

that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen

(Another long version of the Prayer from Ireland)

God take and receive my liberty,

my memory, my understanding and will,

All that I am and have He has given me

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time

Enjoying one moment at a time

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right

If I surrender to his will

That I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy in the next. AMEN

Meeting Types

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPEN AND CLOSED A.A. MEETINGS

The purpose of all A.A. group meetings, as the Preamble states, is for A.A. members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” Toward this end, A.A. groups have both open and closed meetings.

CLOSED MEETINGS

Closed meetings are for A.A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and “have a desire to stop drinking.”

OPEN MEETINGS

Open meetings are available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from alcoholism. Non-alcoholics may attend open meetings as observers.

Reprinted from The A.A. Group…Where It All Begins, p. 11, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

AA History in Ireland

Ireland — the first European nation to accept the Message of Alcoholics Anonymous

Sackville O’C. Millens and Conor Flynn., the founder of Irish AA

In 1943, after immigrating to the U.S., Conor F., from Roscommon in the west of Ireland, and a tavern owner, joined A.A. in Philadelphia. This same year saw AA spread to Australia and an A.A. with an group was formed in Sydney. Those two happenings led to the start of A.A. in Ireland and the formation of the first A.A. group of native Europeans, run by themselves, in Dublin.

Fr. Tom Dunlea, an Irish priest running a Boy’s Town Home in Sydney, had noticed and been impressed with the gradual growth and success of the Sydney group and in 1946 when he came back to Ireland on holiday and, while in Dublin, was asked by the Dublin “EVENING MAIL” to give an interview on his Boys Home.

Not alone did Fr.Tom give an account of his project, but he also spoke at some length on the success of the Sydney group of A.A.

Conor F. returned to Ireland on vacation the same year, three years sober and determined to set up an AA group in Dublin before his return to America in January 1947. It was known as the First Dublin Group or The Country Shop Group, the name of the restaurant where they met. This first closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and, one week later, on 25 November, the first Open Public Meeting was held, also in Dublin.

From the outset Conor F. discovered that his task would be a difficult one. He ran into stone walls everywhere. He was even told at one stage that there were no alcoholics in southern Ireland — but he would probably find them in Northern Ireland.

It was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms that if people had problems with the “demon drink” all they had to do was join The Pioneer Association — Ireland’s highly respected temperance society, and not waste time with some new and unusual idea taught by Americans.

He also gave an interview to the Evening Mail newspaper outlining AA’s endeavours to help people suffering from alcoholism “to overcome the obsession which compels them to drink against their will.” The article also included a Box Number for people to write for information.

He received a few replies — one from a man telling him that he should contact his brother. He made contact with a few people but nothing concrete came from any of them.

He was just about to give up and with time running out fate played its hand — as it did with Bill W. in Akron eleven years earlier — when once again, and in more or less similar circumstances, an understanding non-alcoholic woman played a part in the birth of AA, this time in Ireland.

Her name was Eva Jennings and she was staying in the same hotel as Conor and over breakfast he confided in her his many problems in getting AA set up in Dublin.

She was very sympathetic towards his plight and arranged for him to meet a Dr. Norman Moore from St. Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin whom she believed would be of some help.

Dr. Moore was quite enthusiastic and listened to what Conor had to say, as he had already read about AA in a Readers Digest article. He informed Conor that he had a patient in the hospital “whom he feared he might be saddled with for life” and was willing to introduce them both stating: “If you can help this man, I’ll believe in AA 100 percent.”

The patient, Richard P. from County Down in Northern Ireland, was sent under escort to Conor’s hotel and immediately they “clicked” and Richard was released from hospital.

Both men then set about arranging the first closed meeting in Dublin, which took place two weeks later on Monday, November 18th, 1946. The following Saturday they placed a notice in The Evening Mail for the first public “open” meeting the next Monday. Neither man was ever to drink again. Richard died sober December 19th, 1982, and Conor F. died in Philadelphia on July 8th, 1993, 50 years sober.

Sackville attended his first A.A. meeting there on a Monday night, April 28, 1947, and never took another drink. He was a “retired” major from the British Army, having served for twenty-six years. A British officer – that is, until brandy “retired” him. This proved only a temporary setback. He survived to become a mainstay of A.A. in Ireland.

Sackville M’s story appeared in the 2nd and 3rd editions of Alcoholics Anonymous as “The Career Officer.”

Getting off to a shaky start, the group secretary and a dozen others got drunk in the summer of 1947. Three remained sober, Sackville among them, who had joined in April. They re-formed the group in August with Sackville as secretary.

Sackville was a good organizer who had clear and definite ideas of what they should do. He suggested they switch the open public information meeting from Friday to Monday, the better to catch men coming off a weekend drunk. He also worked hard to get information about A.A. to the newspapers.

Since the vast majority of the Irish population was Roman Catholic, Sackville knew it was important to win the goodwill of the Catholic clergy. He convinced a professor of theology at St. Patrick’s College, Mayhooth, to publish an article favorable to A.A. in the college paper The Furrow. Bill W. later referred to the publication of this article as an impressive step forward in A.A.’s relations with the churches.

In 1948 Sackville began a small group paper, The Road Back, which did much to give the group a sense of identity. A bi-monthly group newsletter celebrating birthdays and group news, it also carried recovery sharing in a simple unpretentious five-page format. He edited it for more than twenty-eight years. The Road Back magazine is still being printed, similar to the Grapevine magazine in the U.S. Sackville died in 1979, 32 years sober

In April 1948 the second Irish Group was formed in Bundoran, and in May a Group was formed in Belfast. July saw the start of the first Limerick Group and a year later, in October 1949, a Group was started in Cork.

In 1950 a Group started in Galway and today (2011) there are over sixty AA Groups between City and County with over a 100 meetings


Dublin Evening Mail
Saturday, November 23, 1946

ALCOHOLICS FORM NEW BODY

The Alcoholics Anonymous Association, formed to help sufferers from the dreaded disease of alcoholism, has recently established a small group in Dublin. Several private meetings have already been held as a result of which those who attended have derived considerable benefit and have become convinced that they have not been able to find any other way. The first public meeting of the Association will be held on Monday at 7:45 p.m., in the Country Shop, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Three of the speakers will be alcoholics and members of the Dublin group.

DOCTOR TO SPEAK

In addition, a doctor who is one of Dublin’s leading psychiatrists and who has made a deep study of alcoholism, will give the meeting the benefit of his professional knowledge on this important subject. True to the name of the Society all will remain anonymous. It is hoped that all who have a sincere desire to stop drinking and to lead a normal, useful life will take this opportunity of learning what the Association offers as a constructive policy of recovery. It is also hoped that any who are interested directly attend with the object of hearing what the Association has done and is daily doing for alcoholics.

 

AA History Galway

This is a work in progress and I hope all interested parties get in touch to contribute or contradict the historical data here. This is a vital part of AA in Galway and there is very little data available that can be corroborated by living members.

We are informed that AA started in Galway in the year 1950.

Hotel Enda

There was a meeting in the Hotel Enda in Dominick Street, Galway. In 1967, Martin Hession bought the building and changed the name to The Coachman. There is some speculation that this meeting stopped and a meeting was started in Tuam.

Odeon Hotel

The Odeon Hotel in Eyre Square was a place frequented by many members after a meeting for a cuppa and a continuation of the earlier meeting.

 Tuam

A meeting started in Tuam just after the closing of the meeting in Hotel Enda.

 Sources

Alcoholics Anonymous in Ireland: AA’s first European experience: Shane Butler, Tony Jordan

Alcohol, Drugs and Health Promotion in Modern Ireland (see page 25 – 29). Google Books.

Barefootworld website – History of AA in Ireland: click here.

Galway AA Chronology by Date

 ? December 1950 Sackville writes about the Mallow and Galway meetings starting…. Click here
? December 1950 Sackville announces the Public meeting in Galway to the national press. Click here
? December 1950 December 1950 in the Connaught Tribune, there was an article announcing that “A Public Meeting” will be held in Galway City in the Town Hall on 8th December 1950. Click here
8th December 1950 First Public Meeting held in Galway Town Hall
 ? December 1950 December 1950 in the Connaught Sentinel, there was an article about the AA meeting held on 8th December 1050. Click here

Group Information Changes

Circumstances change all the time, AA is an organic, active and evolving fellowship. Things change and we need to tell everyone else about these changes, such as:

  • The times of a meeting
  • The Address of the meeting
  • Contact details for 12 step service

If your group has such a change, please let us know, so that we can inform everyone who may need to know.

The Group Information Sheet.

This sheet is used by Alcoholics Anonymous to keep the National Directory up to date. As you may know, the names and numbers in the Directory are used by GSO and the Telephone Services to contact Group Members when a suffering alcoholic in your area calls looking for help.

Presently, the Directory contains the names and contact numbers of deceased members, members who have gone back out there, and members who no longer belong to the groups they are listed for.

In an attempt to address this problem, Galway Areas, East and West, have set up a PO Box Number to which these Group Information Sheets can be returned.

Please print out the Group Information Sheet, complete it and return your sheet with up to date information as soon as possible.

Alcoholics Anonymous Galway
PO Box 411
Mail Services Centre
Tuam Road
Galway

Your meeting details will be updated on the meeting lists  and passed on to GSO, via the Intergroup Secretary.

12 Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through . . .

  1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  3. We will comprehend the word serenity.
  4. We will know peace.
  5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
  6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
  8. Self-seeking will slip away.
  9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
  10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
  11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fullfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

 

12 Traditions

12 Traditions Of Alcoholics Anonymous

  1. Our common welfare should come first: personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our Group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our Group Conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; – they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non – professional, but our service centres may employ special workers.
  9. A.A. as such, ought never be organised; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion: we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Further reading. 12 Traditions in Long Form