From 26th-28th July, staff from St Joseph’s College, Stoke-on-Trent, took part in a ‘domestic immersion experience’ at the Westcourt Centre in Belfast, an Edmund Rice ministry managed and directed by Cormac McArt.
The Westcourt Centre has forged strong links with local community groups and organisations seeking to support the most vulnerable social groups in the city. Accompanied by Tom Murray, Roisin Maguire and Br Fergus Reilly from the Edmund Rice Network in England, staff members Kelly Jackson, Scott Birchall and Claire Rooney experience the diverse nature of the incredible work undertaken by Cormac.
As well as off-site visits to the Rosemount Hostel and the Welcome Organisation, the immersion included time spent with the Link Centre Pupil Support Service and the Belfast Hospital School and then culminated in an incredibly powerful and inspirational season with the Strengthening Families group at the Westcourt Centre. This has inspired the staff to explore the possibility of starting their own family support group back home in Stoke.
The whole experience is only possible because of the passion and warmth of Cormac McArt and the leaders of the organisations with which he works. For Cormac, receiving such groups and sharing the work of the Westcourt Centre is a fulfilment of the vision of Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders. Through this initiative, Edmund Rice offices and organisations in all parts of the European Province have become fundamentally linked and now offer mutual support in addressing social injustice.
Kelly, Scott and Claire were the fortunate few to have the opportunity to take part in this great experience this year. However, the Edmund Rice Office, with Cormac’s support, intend to offer a similar itinerary to staff from all the English schools next year.
O God, we thank you for the life of Edmund Rice.
He opened his heart to Christ present in those oppressed by poverty and injustice.
May we follow his example of faith and generosity.
Grant us the courage and compassion of Edmund as we seek to live lives of love and service.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.