From Canon to Canonisation
At the annual Aisling Bursaries presentation on Tuesday evening, West Belfast MP Paul Maskey threw out a bold challenge to the assembled businesses.
Noting that the bursaries, founded in the year 2000 by the Belfast Media Group and the West Belfast Partnership Board, had contributed almost £600,000 to third-level students, the MP raised the bar.
“Imagine if we were to take it upon ourselves to hit the £1m target by 2020,” he said.
The gauntlet has been thrown down and I have no doubt that the businesses across West Belfast will step up to the plate.
For 17 years, the £1,000 bursaries from businesses both large and small have represented a wise investment in the future of our young people.
Of course, it’s only a small amount of money when set against the overall costs of obtaining a third level education but it does make a difference to a young person wishing to buy a computer or make a downpayment on digs as the adventure of university education beckons. It also reflects the best values of the people of Belfast — both business people and students alike. One group wanting to ensure the community in which they do business prospers, the other aspiring to empower themselves through education.
Around £45,000 in bursaries were disbursed on Tuesday evening in the wonderful St Mary’s University College after an address by Education Minister Peter Weir in which he acknowledged the pioneering role of the West Belfast Partnership Board in working to enhance educational achievement.
To hit the one million mark by 2020 means doubling the contributions to the bursary kitty each year between now and 2020. That’s an ambitious target but one which a focused and united community could achieve. Let’s do it.
Mother Teresa’s nuns came to Springhill, West Belfast, at the invitation of people’s priest Fr Des Wilson in the early 1970s to help the refugees put out of their homes in the Belfast pogroms of 1969. However, when local Catholic priest Canon Pádraig Murphy felt the nuns were impinging on his patch, he ordered them out. All of which gave the fledgling Andersonstown News its most memorable-ever headline: ‘Nun fired by Canon’. And to think this week, Mother Teresa moved from canon to canonisation when Pope Francis declared Blessed Teresa of Calcutta a saint at the Vatican. The event was marked back in Springhill too and it was a treat to see Fr Des Wilson, now over 90, who had welcomed the sisters to Belfast over four decades ago, present for that community celebration. A living saint if ever there was one.