Inspiration in St. John of Gods, Celbridge

CHANGE has been highlighted at St. Raphael’s in Celbridge where the hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities are supported by the St. John of God Kildare Services.

CHANGE has been highlighted at St. Raphael’s in Celbridge where the hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities are supported by the St. John of God Kildare Services.

A recent Celbridge Provincial Gathering, held on Tuesday, June 11, was, in part a tribute to the retiring Provinicial, Brother Laurence Kearns, and a welcome for new CEO, John Pepper, who congratulate Director of Services, Clare Dempsey and her team.

Occasions such as these lend themselves congratulations almost by their nature but the work at St. Raphael’s to make life as normal and enjoyable for so many was evident.

In particular, a film of the many activities and the people involved them, “Moving Forward – A Celebration of Achievements 2011-2013,” was both informative and entertaining.

It was enlivened by the outstanding host on the day, Mark Smith, whose own life story reflects many of the good things about St. Raphael’s.

In 2003, the Leader interviewed Mark on a number of occasions as he competed for Ireland in the World Special Olympics Games.

It was always a possibility that those influential Games would have been the only or main highlight for Mark but thanks to Ms. Demspey and the “more creative than ever” team, as Mr. Pepper put it, a decade later, Mark has had a very full life which includes attending NUI Maynooth as an anthropology student.

As Brother Laurence, the retiring Director of Services, put it: “There is a great sense of real community here.

“It is a pity the whole of Ireland doesn’t have the sense of community you have here,” he added.

- Henry Bauress