Fifty years of dignity at Celbridge’s St. Raphael’s celebrated

THE people who have played a leading role in supporting the patients at St. Raphael’s in Celbridge for the past fifty years celebrated their efforts when they officially opened a special garden on Sunday, writes Henry Bauress.

THE people who have played a leading role in supporting the patients at St. Raphael’s in Celbridge for the past fifty years celebrated their efforts when they officially opened a special garden on Sunday, writes Henry Bauress.

Celbridge native, Bishop Eamon Walsh, celebrated a mass in the packed St. Raphael’s Church on Sunday morning before honorary life President, Cathal O’Feinneadha officially opened the Serenity Garden.

While St. Raphael’s was established in 1952 as a school for intellectually disabled boys, it was not until 1962 when the St. Raphael’s Parents and Friends Association (PFA) was formed.

Then Prior, Brother Ansalem Mangan convened a meeting of parents and friends.

The PFA has been active since.

With the aid of the community it has been heavily involved in support including fundraising and its famous Annual Fete continues to be a big event in the calendar.

At 11.00 am mass in the Church, St. Raphael’s Director of Services, Clare Dempsey, praised the “unique contribution” and “extraordinary commitment” of the PFA.

Bishop Walsh said the group had taken “a giant step” on 9 September 1962.

Speaking of the gospel miracle in which Jesus cured a deaf and dumb man, he said the story was also about us have the encourage to speak out about what we say and hear. “We have to have the courage to speak out the truth,” he said.

Bishop Walsh said St. Raphael’s was all about respect and dignity of those who used its services. “It is a living sermon.”

Cathal O’Feinneahda spoke of the history of the PFA, and, received applause when he thanked the St. John of God brothers and staff.

The order’s Irish Provincial, Brother Laurence Kearns O.H spoke of “the pricesless gift” of the PFA.

Liam McNamee, current PFA chairman, said that rather than put up a plaque they decided to create a nice garden, located just inside the Clane road gates, which was designed by Dunboyne based landscape artist, Lisa Murphy.

He described staff at St. Raphael’s as “fantastic.”

Mr. McNamee said there was a lot of voluntary contribution towards the garden.

The St. John of God order gave €5,000 and the overall cost is in the region of €10,000.

- Henry Bauress