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An Easter message from Bishop Ray Browne

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Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne.

If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet,
how much more should you wash each other’s feet? Jn 13:14

What a year! Together all of us have lived through a year of the Coronavirus, each has experienced it in our own unique circumstances. The winter months have been particularly difficult. The light and new green growth of spring time has never been so welcome, and it has coincided with the season of Lent. Let us keep our spirits up and encourage one another in following public health guidance.

Thank God for the way so many people have been there for each other. Thank God for the way frontline workers have sacrificed themselves to provide essential services. We are full of gratitude and acknowledgement of how important it is to live lives of generous service. Individually we are at our best when our communities are at their best.

With Government guidance at Level 5, and with a genuine concern that we could have another major wave of the virus ahead, it is understandable, but sad, that we have our Easter ceremonies without a congregation. It is a blessing that you can join in the ceremonies so easily from your home via modern technology. What we miss is the dual presence: the presence of the community gathered in church, and together receiving the Real Presence at the altar.

Here are three points to reflect on this Easter 2021

This Holy Week and Easter, joining in Mass from home, seek nourishment at the table of God’s word. The introduction to the Roman Missal speaks of the Liturgy of the Word at Mass: “When the Sacred Scriptures are read in church, God himself speaks to his People, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel” (29). When you go forth from the Easter ceremonies carry words from the scriptures in your heart: the Last Supper, ‘you should wash each other’s feet’; the commemoration of the Passion, ‘This is my body, given up for you’; Easter morning, ‘You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, He is risen …’.
This year has reminded us that home is where we pray each day. Home is the place where we first received our faith and where we live it. In the home God is present with us. Prayer in the home is the time we spend turned towards God talking to him about our lives and asking his help; giving praise and thanks; asking forgiveness and renewing our trust. Has prayer in the home helped you and your family over the past year? It will be a great blessing if, when this virus is finally a memory, we have a new awareness of prayer in the home.
A word of thanks to our priests and deacons, and all who have contributed to the life of our parishes over the past year. A word of thanks to our schools for the great work they have done. A word of encouragement to all young people looking forward to First Confession, First Communion or Confirmation. We cannot make any plans until we know when we will have congregations in church. The situation is disappointing, but the ceremonies will be worth waiting for. Another group who have suffered are the Leaving Cert students. May they trust that all will be well and, come the autumn, they will be satisfied with the options that come their way.
Thank you to all who have continued to contribute to parish funds and the parish dues for our priests. Keep up the good work. Priests have been greatly encouraged by your faithfulness. Please remember other local charities and voluntary bodies over the Easter season, so much fundraising has not been possible. All need funds to pay for the basics like insurance, heating, and the overheads of an office. Please, let us not forget the Lenten campaign of Trócaire. If the Coronavirus has been hard on us, how much more difficult has it been for the communities Trócaire supports?
Finally, every time we pray over the Easter season let us all, people and priests, remember the deceased of the past year, and their grieving loved ones. Have a comforting word for the bereaved when you meet. In this world and in the next our hope is in Christ: “Christ is Risen, alleluia”. Be assured of my prayers.

Bishop Ray Browne
Easter 2021

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Possible return to campus for college students

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.ie. 

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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