2017 sees the Pope John Paul II Award celebrating its 10th anniversary. To mark this special occasion, and to celebrate the achievements of over 25,000 young people who have received the award, the Pope John Paul II Award has organised a pilgrimage to Rome which is taking place this week from Sunday 29 October until Friday 3 November.
More than 180 young pilgrims from 11 dioceses across Ireland are taking part in the pilgrimage to Rome. Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry and Patron of the Pope John Paul II Award, is leading the pilgrimage, joined by youth leaders and priests from the participating dioceses.
The 180 pilgrims are made up of award participants from the last ten years from the dioceses of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Armagh, Clogher, Cloyne, Derry, Dromore, Elphin, Ferns, Kilmore and Leighlin, Tuam and Waterford and Lismore.
The group began their pilgrimage with a celebration of Mass at the Santa Maria degli Angeli. During their visit, the group undertook a walking pilgrimage of the ‘seven churches of Rome’ led by Bishop McKeown as well as a night tour of the city, and visited the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum and the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.
Yesterday, on the feast of All Saints, Bishop McKeown celebrated Mass with the pilgrims at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Afterwards the pilgrims participated in a procession at the tomb of Saint John Paul II.
The group later gathered at Saint Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis, during which the Pope offered a special welcome to the pilgrims from Ireland. The day ended with a visit to the tomb of Saint Paul and evening prayer at the Cathedral of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls. The pilgrims will return to Ireland tomorrow.
The Pope John Paul II Award was created to commemorate Saint John Paul II. The award celebrates those who take an active part in the life of their parish, in the life of their community and in society. Over 25,000 young people, in 22 dioceses throughout Ireland, as well as in the UK, have successfully completed the Pope John Paul II Award since it was created in 2006. For more information, visit www.thepopejohnpauliiaward.com.