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Gonzaga alumni on the frontline

Gonzaga College SJ in Ranelagh, Dublin, have put together a series of videos of past pupils who are exemplifying the college ethos of being ‘men and women for others’ during the Covid-19 crisis. The videos include the work of alumni in various fields such as medicine, business, mental health, law and the postal service. The school hopes that their thoughts and insights into their experiences so far might bring reassurance and inspiration to other alumni, students, and parents. In Ignatian terms, they are thought to be ‘setting the world on fire’.

David McRedmond, class of ’80 and CEO of An Post, speaks on the importance of enabling and supporting all those around us. He points out that An Post have proven that sometimes it’s the small and simple ideas – the ones from the heart – that are the most compelling and meaningful for the community at large.

He says that An Post has really discovered the new meaning of acting for the common good during the Covid-19 crisis, which is especially relevant to the ethos of Gonzaga and Jesuit schools on being persons for others. Some ideas that have been implemented include giving everybody free postcards so that, for instance, children can communicate with their grandparents; setting up a system where An Post staff can call in and check on the elderly and giving the homeless an address so that they can come in to post offices and collect their mail.

Regarding the service for the homeless, Mr McRedmond says: “It’s had a massive take up amongst the homeless people. We reckon about 40 per cent have already taken it up as a way to move forward from where they are”. For example, the service enables them to do doctor’s appointments, get letters from school and apply for jobs.

GP Dr Knut Moe, class of ’98 who has developed a GP diagnostic and screening tool, says that adapting the medical approach to patient care and capturing data is crucial in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. His tool has been adopted by hundreds of GP practices across the country and his partnership with fellow alumni (brothers Eoin and Joe Newell from GP Buddy) has resulted in the development of a GP Symptom Tracker as an early warning system for an increase in cases of Covid-19 in the community.

Brian Whelan, class of ’92, speaks to the school community on the subject of minding their mental health and the importance of looking out for others who might need support from alumni during the crisis. He represents the Copper Beech Trust which is always available for assistance to anyone who might need advice or support on any matter – financial, professional, personal and spiritual (contact [email protected] for assistance). Mr Whelan also says, “Check out mymind.org offering online video sessions for people of all ages with over 100 professional psychologists”.

Trevor Browne, class of ’89 and owner of TriBeCa restaurant in Ranelagh, discusses the challenges of running a restaurant business. He speaks to the school community on how doing right by his suppliers and staff in a real and meaningful way has motivated him to work harder than ever before. He says that adapting from an eat-in restaurant to a take-out and delivery ‘family business’ has had a positive impact, bringing his family closer and the challenging fun of working as a family team.

Gary Lee, class of ’88, is the managing solicitor in a community law centre in Ballymun and Chair of the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI). He speaks of his family’s long association with the Jesuits and the inherent good of the Jesuit ethos. He says: “What’s really encouraging for me is the effort that’s being made at a community level by Irish people and indeed in terms of the Disability Federation of Ireland the amount of people who are contacting us wanting to volunteer… and I think it is community that will get us through this.”

He also discusses emergency legislation and the chairing of mental health tribunals that are continuing to go ahead remotely under difficult circumstances. He shares his memories of teachers John Mulgrew and Fr Joe Brennan whose blackboard response to his teenage queries about the evidence for faith has stayed with him to this day.

Click here to view the videos ». More will be added in the coming days and weeks ahead.

The image features a statue of St Aloysius Gonzaga, whom the college is named after, carrying a victim of the plague in Rome.