A huge celebration took place at Grangemockler Camphill Community on Sunday, 12 December, marking the 21st anniversary of the founding of the Camphill community at Templemichael.
It was through the initiative of a dedicated group in the parish in 1988, spearheaded by Alice Dunne, that Camphill was invited to found a community base for adults with special needs. 21 years later a caring centre with four houses accommodating 46 people, including 21 adults with special needs, is well established in this peaceful rural setting. Adjoining the small village is Camphill's 40 acre mixed farm with fruit, vegetable and herb gardens where the villagers and co-workers all help to work the farm using organic and bio-dynamic methods. They cook with all their own home-grown produce, manage the day to day running of the village whilst encouraging and maintaining a keen interest in the care of the environment.
The Camphill community in Grangemockler was founded by the four people who came from North Yorkshire in 1988, Josef Teppan, Astrid Tiehl-Teppan, Mark Wrightson and Elizabeth Alexanderson.
This special celebration was blessed with good weather and a great attendance by all in the Camphill community, including family members, guests and their many friends from the neighbourhood who all contribute to the community's numerous activities. A beautiful Mass under a marquee was celebrated by Fr. Pat Gear P.P. with many members from Camphill taking part. Fr. Gear spoke highly of this community, the joy they brought to everyone and how he was delighted and honoured to be a part in their special celebrations.
Founder member, Josef Teppan then thanked everyone for supporting them over the years. He spoke of the early days remembering all who had been involved in the setting up of the Camphill Community especially those who had a particular deep connection to the community and had since passed on. Josef outlined the progress in the three seven-year phases from the beginning through the building up of the community, the construction of the houses and the buying of land to set up their farm. He praised the young volunteers who came to help out from all over the world, the entire resident dedicated members and the local people who supported their project wholeheartedly over the last two decades and still do which has helped make their village the vibrant centre and comfortable home for adults with special needs that it is today.
Also present was Fr. Michael Kennedy who had been in the parish in the early days when Camphill was being established. Fr. Michael had many anecdotal tales to tell from the earlier days which were enjoyed by all. He also paid tribute to the driving spirit of the local community and the Camphill members who were all eager to care for people with special needs and who remain dedicated to their role. He spoke highly of the Fs workers who had also contributed to projects over the years and talked of the roles of Fr. Matt Cunningham and Curate Fr. Jim in the early days of the community.
A father of one of the young adults who lives at Camphill, Jim Power also shared his story of how Camphill Community had welcomed his son Martin and enriched all of their lives. Jim and his wife Oonagh had nothing but praise for the Camphill community members who had provided their son with a special caring and homely environment and one which he is happy and proud to be a part of.
A special moment after the celebration speeches was the presentation by Imelda Dunne of her 30th birthday gift money to Tiffany Russi, senior co-worker in the Camphill community, as a gesture of thanks for all their care and support over the years. Imelda's kind donation will go towards ongoing projects in the community and was much appreciated.
All were treated to afternoon tea a feast of home made cakes, breads, buns and much more. Photos dating back from the early days to the present adorned the walls and albums compiled with many more photos were also on show.
The Camphill Movement, founded in 1940 by Dr. Karl Konig, a Viennese paediatrician, creates communities where children and adults with special needs can live learn and work with others "in healthy social relationships based on mutual care and respect. Camphill is inspired by Christian ideals as articulated by Rudolf Steiner and is based on the acceptance of the spiritual uniqueness of each human being, regardless of disability or religious or racial background."