By Sean Ryan - 27 July, 2015
An initiative which commenced last year in Limerick city which saw overseas students from Catholic Universities volunteer for a week as part of a Servant Leadership Programme under the auspices of Mary Immaculate University proved to be a major success again this year.
Following on the success of last summer’s Servant Leadership programme, Mary Immaculate College on the Dock Road welcomed a group of student volunteers from Seton Hall University in New Jersey as well as a group Gannon University a Catholic University from Pennsylvania in the first week of July, who spent a dedicated week volunteering in community organisations across Limerick city.
President of Mary Immaculate College Fr Michael Hayes and vice President Professor Eugene Wall welcomed the group on arrival at MIC and Professor Des McCafferty presented the group with a history of the development of urban Limerick and the persistent problems of segregation and social exclusion in some Limerick communities. The group was also welcomed to Limerick by newly-appointed mayor of Limerick , Councillor Liam Galvin, at City Hall and toured the city, visiting organisations committed to community development.
Throughout the week, the students worked with the Franciscan Friars at St Patrick’s Friary in Moyross, Limerick Youth Service, Northside Family Resource Centre, Novas Initiatives and the Butterfly Club in Rathkeale. The 14 students and 5 leaders were committed to serving the community and spent evenings and weekends painting at Our Lady of Lourdes Community Centre, working with Limerick Tidy Towns, Novas Initiatives soup run and fundraising for Rape crisis Midwest.
Speaking on local radio Disa Rollinger, an education student at Gannon University, described her experience at the Butterfly Club in Limerick . “Everything about the Club, as well as everyone involved has been absolutely amazing! The experience is so inspiring and I am extremely delighted to have had this wonderful opportunity with such wonderful children and leaders,” she said.
“It was a real treat for me to see the growth and excitement in my students,” Dr Andrew Caswell, Gannon University told Catholicireland.net. “I expected to be challenged on this trip as an educator and a leader, but I didn’t expect to be challenged as a human being. My time with the men at the shelter made me reflect on the many ways in which I have been blessed in my life and my own shortcomings in passing those blessings onto others”.
Holly Cowman, Director of the International Office at Mary Immaculate College said, The International Office took great care to organise a tailor-made programme for each member of the group, according to their interests and experience. They worked very hard and we were amazed by their energy and enthusiasm. It was an interesting experience for us to see many aspects of Limerick City from their perspective and to observe how the group made a difference to the people and communities they worked with.”