A special Service of Thanksgiving was held for the donors, volunteers and supporters of the Edmund Rice Beyond 250 Appeal at the end of June at the Edmund Rice Chapel in Mount Sion, Waterford . It was a poignant day shared by friends – a wonderful celebration of what can be achieved when a community comes together. The spirit of Blessed Edmund seemed to fill the chapel that morning as the sun shone brightly throughout proceedings.
The service began with an opening prayer of solidarity with the poor and vulnerable around the world read out by Br. Dermot Ambrose. It was followed by a presentation of symbols by members of each organisation involved in coordinating the Appeal: Br. Rupert O’Sullivan of Edmund Rice International presented a wooden carving of a figure supporting the world with raised hands symbolising a dream for our world and to support the work of the Edmund Rice community in giving a voice to the vulnerable. Ms. Fiona Dowling from Edmund Rice Development presented the special Beyond 250 Appeal wristbands, which were handmade by a group of local women in Mukuru, Kenya as a way of providing them with a source of income to allow their children to attend school. Br. Phil Ryan, Br. Adi Pinto and Ms. Anne Nolan of Edmund Rice International Heritage Centres presented a United Nations Flag representing the multicultural people using the centre through the work of the ISU, and a list of all the users in the International Heritage Centre reflecting the variety of groups that use the centre such as religious, educational, businesses, community, recreational and support groups. Br. Dan O’Keeffe of Edmund Rice Bicentennial Trust presented the ERBT investment report to reflect the depth and breadth of the Trust’s financial support of their developing world projects.
A warm tribute was then paid by the Beyond 250 Appeal chairman, Br. Francis Hall to all of those gathered and all of those who had played a part in making the Appeal such a success, raising over €1.2 million to help empower the poor and give a voice to the vulnerable. Speaking on the impact of the Appeal Br. Francis said:
“I can see that through coming together during this Appeal that Edmund Rice people across the world are in greater solidarity than ever before. It has been a putting into action of the challenge made by Edmund Rice Network members at the Brothers’ Chapter in 2008 in India: “Imagine your future with us rather than without us”.
His words were followed by a short video from a number of the projects that the Appeal has supported in Sierra Leone. Students and other beneficiaries sent a special message of thanks to all who had supported the Appeal. Mr. Reuben Chongo, visitor from Zambia and coordinator of the Brothers’ African missions also spoke on behalf of the projects in Africa and how they had benefited so much from the support of the global Appeal. Br. Seamus Whelan and Br. Rupert O’Sullivan spoke on behalf of Edmund Rice International Heritage Centres and Edmund Rice International, explaining how the Appeal had helped their organisations to continue their critical work.
A musical performance by the harpist, Aisling Connelly provided a few moments meditation on the significance of everyone’s contribution. Ms. Emma Hennessy and Br. John Hearne presented the special dedications of Appeal supporters from around the world at the tomb of Blessed Edmund Rice. Ms. Jenni Barrett chief executive of Edmund Rice Development introduced the commemorative sculpture by Irish artist Vivian Hansbury: a bronze of two hands passing an olive branch between them. Speaking about the piece she said:
“The symbol of the hands, one an adult, one a child, depicts the passing on of the seed of empowerment to the next generation – the image is inspired by Edmund’s own words when he says: have courage the good seed will grow up in the children’s hearts later on”.
The sculpture was unveiled by Br. Francis Hall and local pupil Bill. You can view photos of the event on our Flickr page.
The year-long Edmund Rice Beyond 250 Appeal was launched in May 2012. During the year over €1.2 million was raised to help support the work of the Brothers and Edmund Rice global community in four key areas: developing world ministries; the new calling to human rights and advocacy on behalf of the poor; the professional and spiritual training of young Brothers; and the continued preservation of the heritage and legacy of Edmund Rice. A special Edmund Rice Beyond 250 Appeal report will be produced within the next few months. It will be distributed to all those involved in the Appeal and made available on the Edmund Rice Development website www.edmundricedevelopment.org for all to review.