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Pastoral Department Update

Pastoral Department Update

Pastoral Department Update Jan 14th

Prayer as we start a new year (from the Corrymeela Community)

God of our honest concerns, God of our lingering joy: as holidays become memories and our resumption of work falls back into rhythm, may we not forget the moments that restore us, nor put away the gifts that give a healthy balance to our life. May we bring into this new year a pattern of self–care that keeps Christmas continuing, as a glimpse of something better, as a way to live today.

As a Christian faith community ‘rooted in a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ’ (see our mission statement (Our Vision, Mission and Values - Belvedere College S.J.), we celebrate all that we do to give life to our Vision and Mission. Our Values of Community, Jesuit Tradition, Justice and The Magis (The More) guide our every step and this was very evident in our Advent and Christmas programmes where, as a whole school community of students, staff, parents and past pupils, we raised over €186,000 for a variety of charities – our efforts to ‘walk with and advocate for those on the margins, locally and we recognise the urgent need to respond to the pandemic of poverty and climate change’. (from our Justice Values Statement). On behalf of the whole College Community, thank you for supporting our efforts and all you do to support our students become ‘men for others’.

We wish to share with you some insights from some of these programmes:

Sleep Out 2020

(Members of the Sleepout 2020 Team)
This year above all years was the most challenging of the 37 years that Sleep Out has happened. Even up to 2 days before it was due to start it was touch and go as to how we could safely and responsibly run Sleep Out. In the end it became a combination of a physical sleep out at students homes rather than at the GPO and all our fundraising went online instead of shaking buckets on the streets. As we write money is still coming in, but to date we have raised over €125,000 for our 3 charity partners working to combat homelessness – Focus Ireland, Peter McVerry Trust and Home Again.

But as important as raising money is for these charities, it is equally (if not more) important that our students get to ‘walk in the shoes’ of what it might feel like to be homeless and to deeply reflect on that experience. This is also at the heart of what it means to be in a Jesuit school. Many students did a 24 hour fast to deepen their experience. Here is just a snapshot of the many some reflections from students:

Why is Sleep Out important?
The Sleepout is important for students of the college as we pass homeless people on the street every day walking in and out of school. It is important therefore that we experience this for ourselves to see how hard it is and to be able to understand and empathise with homeless people more than we had been able to.
It is important to understand the lives of homeless people at an early age and to be active in helping
It is a really eye-opening experience for the students as it shows them the privilege we have and how we need to try our best and continue to help others the best we can. It gives us an extremely important physical example of how to be "Men for Others" in our lives

What did you learn about yourself?
I have learned a newfound respect for homeless people as the sleep outside was horrible I was afraid of noise and couldn't sleep and they would be worse in town. The fast was hard as well and that was only one day.
When I slept out my back garden, I felt lonely. My parents and brothers came out a few times to say hello, but it really kicked in how isolated you feel. I fell asleep at about 10:30pm and then woke up at 4am absolutely frozen. I now really know how these homeless people feel sleeping out.
I was worried about sleeping out, outside alone, however it was tough but really worth doing to get an idea of what homeless people have to go through. The sleep out definitely made me appreciate things we take for granted like a roof over our heads.
I learned more about how much I take for granted and it gave me some perspective as to how things are for these people. It’s made me a lot more grateful for what I have, and it really pointed out the mental strength homeless people have to do that every day and carry on with life.

What did you learn about homelessness?
I felt this loneliness doing my sleepout. One week after my sleep out I was walking down a road where I saw a homeless man who was asking everyone that went by for money. He asked me and I said sorry I don’t have any on me. He replied, ‘thanks for answering me’. It was only afterwards that I realized how it can impact homeless people just to talk to them
All I knew was that homeless people slept outside or stayed in hostels. Sleeping outside has given me a small understanding of what it’s like to be homeless.
I have learned the magnitude of my ignorance with regards to homelessness. I always thought I knew the struggle to some extent, and in experiencing just a fraction of what the homeless go through every day, I have learnt that I knew nothing, and I still know very little. I will take this information and try my best to understand better what the homeless go through, while acknowledging that I will never fully understand. I am informed on what our charity partners do but I have learnt just how important it is through my sleepout experience.
From doing the soup run I’ve always felt I have a rough understanding of what it would be like to be homeless, but I was very wrong. Just from sleeping out in my back garden and waking up and being frozen i realised that homeless do this every day of the year and I realised how privileged I am.

What did it mean to do to fast?
I learned how difficult it was to fast for just one day, so it really shows how hard it would be to continue on with your day-to-day life without knowing when you will have your next meal
I wanted to contribute all I could to this event to make it as authentic as possible.
I did it because I felt if I had the luxury of warm clothes and a fancy sleeping bag, I should have that extra thing to fully challenge myself. I was definitely more grateful for my dinner the next night!
It was tougher than expected and I was definitely feeling more tired than I would on a regular day which would have been even worse if I was outside in the cold all day on the street

One final comment which is a good overall summary of the experience:
My sleepout experience has forced me to reflect on my many privileges. I sometimes find myself thinking that I can understand the struggle of those who aren’t as lucky as I am, and this experience has erased that idea from my mind. I will continue to educate myself as much as I can and to do what I can to use my position of privilege in a positive way to help those who are less fortunate that I am. The sleepout was a wakeup call of sorts for me in such a manic time.

To all the students who took part in Sleep Out 2020 we say a huge thank you for putting yourself out there and advocating on behalf of homeless people and our 3 charity partners. A huge debt of gratitude also goes to the Board and staff who supported Sleep Out from behind, but especially Liam Hennelly and Stephen Carey who have led Sleep Out for over the last 15 years and deservedly hang up their Hi-Vis vests for now. Sleep Out 2021 and beyond will continue their legacy. Thank you, Stephen and Liam. Sleep Out could not happen without this incredible commitment and service from staff who also share the ‘men / persons for others’ vision which is at the heart of the College.

We normally have past pupils joining students for their own sleep out and we invited them again along with any parents who wished to also do a ‘virtual sleep out’. We were delighted that past pupil Brian Moss (OB95) and his son Isaac who attends Blackrock College, and a whole family of a Poetry student (who asked not to be named) also did the Sleep Out. Both families raised a lot of money through their Just Giving fundraising pages. To them we say a big thank you.

View our Sleepout Gallery here

Our other programmes which we supported:

(Bharat Mohan)
Bharat Mohan in TY raised €4,207 from the sale of Christmas trees for Temple St Childrens hospital 

Students from TY led by Garrett Molloy and Matthew Nolan raised almost €3,000 for Belvedere Youth Club from a virtual cycle of the Camino in lieu of the normal TY trip to the Camino in Oct. 

(Bailey Scanlan and Mr.C. McCarthy)
Students from Elements raised €4,924.76 from a Gift Appeal for children living in direct provision supported by our partners Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS)
We also raised €1,068 from a non-uniform Christmas attire day for the Hope hospital in Kolkata and a group of Poetry students have raised an additional €10,503 to support the Kolkata project charity partners.

€10,548.41 was raised for the St Vincent de Paul conference in the school from monthly collections and other donations. In addition, the Ladies Committee raised a whopping €17,090 for the SVP from their Christmas raffle. Again, a huge thanks to them for this amazing contribution. 

Through this generosity of so many we were able to distribute 50 food hampers and €4,000 in shopping vouchers to support families living in the inner city. We also distributed some funds to the past pupils Christmas Soup Run to assist their work. Thank you for making this possible.

The Parents Ignatian Group continued their relationship and support of the inmates in Shelton Abbey open prison by donating Christmas gifts to help inmates know they are not forgotten at Christmas. Many of them could not have visits from family due to the pandemic so this simple outreach from our parents helped make Christmas a little brighter and it also provided an opportunity for our parents to practically live out their shared connection with our collective vision to be ‘persons for others’. 

Reflection spaces
As the latest lockdown can physically isolate us from others and resort to a virtual community, we are all in need of a space to nourish ourselves and help our wellbeing, a sacred space. Here are a list of resources that might assist you find such a space....
Pray as you go (audio daily prayer) 
Sacred Space (visual daily prayer) 
Examen Prayer of consciousness (reflection method to help focus on and reflect on your day) The Daily Examen- Examen | Pathways to God

Other Resources of interest:
Pathways to God Pathways to God |
Manresa Retreat Centre, Dublin Welcome to Manresa | Manresa
Nutrition for the Soul "Nutrition for the Soul"

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