St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley, makes a difference

The Peregrini (Pilgrims) Movement from St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley, Co

Peregrini is from the Latin for pilgrim, which refers to going on pilgrimage to move from our vision of the world and discover something new.Peregrini is from the Latin for pilgrim, which refers to going on pilgrimage to move from our vision of the world and discover something new.

Tyrone, have been visiting Zambia since the 1990’s, meeting many Irish SMA priests working there. It is a missionary outreach of the College’s Religious Education Department, under the guidance of Tyrone all-Ireland Senior Football star, Pascal Canavan.

During these annual visits, the students and staff from St Ciaran’s teach English, Maths etc. to the school children and also help with some basic building work (painting classrooms etc.).

Mulenga has an estimated 26,000 population, 50% of them under 15 years of age. Living conditions are very challenging, with many basic amenities in short supply: education, job opportunities, medical care, food, shelter, etc. The parish is made up of six Small Christian Communities who send members to the Parish Council. Through the Christian communities the Parishioners discuss and decide on what they issues they want to address in order to build a better future for all. Their first project was the construction of St Ciaran’s PreSchool, which opened in January 2012.

The Zambian people are deeply spiritual and, for them, one of the most important things they wanted was a place to worship God. And so, after six long years, their Holy Trinity Church was blessed and opened on 25 May 2013. Prior to that, they gathered for prayer and to celebrate the Mass in the PreSchool.  
The idea of having an SMA Centre goes back to the first Peregrini visit in 2009. Conscious of the need to foster spiritual, cultural and social values among the young people, they offered to help with improving educational and other opportunities in Mulenga. And, over the last 13 years, they have been the essential cog in making this ‘idea’ a reality.

The Mulenga youth rose to the challenge and, since 2016, under the supervision of qualified builders, they completed the building in time for its official opening last Easter Monday. Some of those involved in the construction work have acquired basic construction skills which could open the door for job opportunities. The Centre, about 5kms from the parish church and preschool, has accommodation for 120 people, kitchens, meeting rooms, with most of the funding provided by the students, staff, parents etc. of St Ciaran’s College. It will also give poor people who couldn’t afford a holiday in hotels etc. an opportunity to have a few days away from their homes and have a time of relaxation, rest and some spiritual exercises.  

The furniture was funded through Direct Aid for Africa (DAFA); the BEIT Trust provided the solar energy system and the Irish Government funded a second-hand vehicle.
DAFA was founded by the late Barney Curley, better known for some famous betting coups, and over the last 20 years has transformed the lives of thousands of Africans, children and adults.

It is a fitting time for the opening as Easter Monday is often called ‘Galilee day’ because that is where the disciples were to meet the Jesus after His Resurrection. And the Lord Jesus brings each of us Life, Life to the fullest.

The Programmes presented by the Centre will be based on the principle of self-reflection and, to quote the philosopher Socrates: “an unexamined life is not worth living.” To achieve this, programme organisers will use participatory practise and reflection, to develop faith and a sense of well-being in the participants, aiming at the holistic development of the person so that they may achieve their full potential.

The Centre has created 5 jobs: Mr Bright Kalaba, a recently-qualified teacher who is awaiting his School appointment from the Education Ministry, manages the Centre and four other staff look after visitors, rooms, meetings, catering etc. It already had many bookings prior to its blessing and opening by the Bishop of Ndola Diocese, Most Rev Benjamin Phiri, on Easter Monday last, 18 April 2022.

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