The Best Buddies programme in St. Jarlath’s College continues to be an active force for good. Best Buddies is a non-profit organisation set up in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As Best Buddies is an American organisation, St. Jarlath’s is one of only a dozen schools in Ireland to take part, the programme having been run for several years now. Best Buddies is a blessing to people with intellectual disabilities in that it helps them foster friendships and social skills, as well as creating a fun atmosphere where they are treated as equals. For the students, it equally creates a fantastic opportunity to build friendships with their buddies, as well as opening their eyes into seeing the people behind the disability. It also inspires organisation skills, responsibility and a strong sense of empathy for people with the unfortunate burden of an intellectual disability.
Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary is an association of Catholic laity who serve the Church on a voluntary basis. It has a long-standing history in the college, the branch here being founded in 1976, being run since by teacher John B. McLoughlin. The Legion enrols students in Fourth Year and Leaving Cert into the presidium. They elect a President, a Vice President and a Secretary, who are helped along by the co-ordinator of activities John McLoughlin and spiritual advisor Fr Fintan Monaghan. They meet once a week for prayers and organising future events. They also help organise Novenas in the College, mark the month of November by saying the Rosary in Tuam Cemetary every Wednesday, do the Stations of the Cross every Wednesday during Lent and make several pilgrimages to Knock during the year. One of the most admirable acts of the Legion however is the time spent during the year helping others. Frequently in the past they’ve travelled across to England and Scotland to both do social work and discuss matters of faith. They also make regular visits to senior citizens, providing company, humour and even music to lives that might otherwise lack it.
The officers of this year’s Leaving Cert Presidium were Conor Keady as President, Colm Bushell as Vice President and Eanna Mac Donnacha as secretary.