Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, launched the John Paul II awards last night, 22 June, in the Diocese of Meath. 15 young people from St Ciarán’s Community School in Kells were awarded the Pope John Paul II Gold Award by Bishop Smith in recognition of their active participation in the life of their parish and community.
The awarding ceremony was held at 7pm in the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells. Guests attended from the parishes and schools in the Diocese along with students from a number of parish youth groups and representatives from the national offices of Trocaire and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Diocesan Director Sean Wright led the evening which saw Barry McMahon, Supreme Knight of the Knights of St Columbanus, speak on the orders commitment to young people expressed through their support of the John Paul II awards. Keynote speaker at the event was Elma Walsh, mother of the late Donal Walsh, who spoke to the group on the impact that her son has had as a result of just a few minutes of air time and of the great things that all can accomplish. Other speakers at the event included Fr Paul Farren from the Diocese of Derry, the founder of the awards, and Jeanette Carry, the Programme Awards Leader in St Ciarans Community School.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Bishop Michael Smith said, “I welcome the setting up of the diocesan structure for the Pope John Paul II Award, involving young people in second level schools. All belong to the family of God, including the young, and all are called to respect and cherish the giftedness of their lives in the sight of God. Pope John Paul II, among many other initiatives, began the worldwide gathering of young people known as World Youth Days. His initiative, which has evoked an enormous response, was a call and a challenge as well as an affirmation of the contribution young people can make to their families, their local community, the Church and wider society.
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. For more information about the award, visit www.thepopejohnpauliiaward.com.