Archbishop Eamon Martin has urged exam students to hold on to hope at this time of uncertainty. In an open letter to students preparing for Leaving Certificate and A Level examinations, Archbishop Eamon said the Covid-19 emergency has “gatecrashed what is such an important and special year in your lives, and it has left you wondering: what happens next?”
Archbishop Eamon told the students, “I want to let you know that you are especially in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”
He explained that he has spoken to many students in recent weeks over the phone and he has also been contacted by students by letter and email, asking him to remember them in Mass and his prayers.
“I know that, for many of you, the uncertainty of this year has been hard to cope with,” the Archbishop said.
He added that the Covid-19 emergency has turned our world upside down and brought feelings of isolation, anxiety and helplessness.
“It has interrupted so many plans – for weddings, First Communions and Confirmations, travel and holidays. For you, it has gatecrashed what is such an important and special year in your lives, and it has left you wondering: what happens next?”
Archbishop Eamon, who taught for a number of years in Derry, stressed that the virus has not destroyed goodness and love. He said, “Our response to it has actually brought out the very best in so many people. I have seen first-hand the amazing voluntary efforts that you and many others have been making to reach out to the elderly and marginalised, and to spread a message of hope for a better and brighter future.”
He said his message to students is to hold on to hope or as Pope Francis puts it: “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope!”
The archbishop thanked the students for keeping in touch with each other and for encouraging each other and he also had a word for parents, teachers and the extended families. “Thank you to your teachers for being there for you online and for helping to keep your spirits up. Thank you to your parents, families and good friends who have been rallying around you and who will always be there for you – no matter what.”
He told the students that some day they will look back on 2020 and tell their children and grandchildren about the way the coronavirus tried to spoil their dreams. He said, “I hope you will go on to describe how the opposite happened – it actually led to a strengthening of your character, your belief in yourself, your empathy for others, and your faith in God. I promise to keep you in my prayers and I offer you my blessing and support for the days ahead.”
Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore.