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Service offers support for Belles

Bridget Feeney | Thursday, October 6, 2011

Members of the Saint Mary’s community gathered on Library Green for a prayer service to remember all of those impacted by mental illness as a part of “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” Week on Wednesday evening.

“The prayer service was a very moving experience,” senior Katie Ciresi said.

The event was one of several during the week that was sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) to promote awareness for and assist students who may be suffering from mental illness, anxiety and depression.

Upon arrival, participants were given a candle and instructed to stand in a circle. The service began with the song “Christ Be Our Light.” Following the opening song, scripture passages and petitions were read.

Participants were then asked to offer up their own prayers in front of the group in order to honor the memory of loved ones who experience mental illnesses. The service concluded with attendees exchanging the sign of peace.

Senior and chief of staff for SGA Emily Skirtich said the Week was launched because SGA wanted to address some of the major issues students face.

“This week was piloted by SGA to respond to the needs of students of Saint Mary’s,” she said. “We wanted to highlight the resources already available to students. We weren’t creating anything new, but playing up the services the different departments already offer.”

In addition to the prayer service, SGA also sponsored a variety of activities on campus to spread awareness about the mission of “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” Week. SGA members passed out yellow ribbons, placed remembrance cards in the Dining Hall, sponsored a meet and greet for students with college counselors and hosted a picnic on Library Green on Tuesday evening.

Sophomore and committee member Kat Sullivan said the events were chosen to make students aware of what resources are available.

“It’s good we shed light on the services students can use, like Women’s Health, Campus Ministry and Residence Life,” she said. “A lot of my friends I have talked to said this Week was very necessary at Saint Mary’s. I hope we continue this in the future.”

Though this is the first year for “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” Week, Skirtich said she also hoped it would become a regular weeklong event at Saint Mary’s.

“Hopefully in the next couple of years, it will become tradition,” she said. “We want each new group of students to understand Saint Mary’s is here for them.”

Today’s events include a pledge signing and special breakfast at 9 a.m. Students will also have a special opportunity to speak with Women’s Health at 5 p.m. outside the Dining Hall.

“This is not just for current students,” Skirtich said. “It is really for all Belles — past, present and future. We want them to know they can rely on the sisterhood and heritage for help. Once a Belle, always a Belle. That is really important to remember.”