More than 500 young people from the Archdiocese of Tuam received Pope John Paul II Awards last week in recognition of voluntary contributions to their parish communities over the past year. Archbishop Michael Neary presented the 545 young people with their awards at a special ceremony at Knock Shrine on Thursday 16 November.
With over 1,200 people in attendance, Archbishop Neary welcomed the young people, together with their families, friends, teachers, principals, chaplains, priests, and representatives of the various parish and diocesan bodies. Local sporting hero Ms Cora Staunton also joined on the day to support and congratulate the award recipients.
Speaking to the young people receiving their awards, Archbishop Neary said, ‘During the year I have been made aware of the very significant contribution which you yourselves have been making in so many ways throughout the length and breadth of the Archdiocese of Tuam. I have witnessed the way in which you, in your Transition Year projects, have presented various aspects of your local Church and the great pride that you take in your local Church. Your visitation of nursing homes brought great joy and hope to residents through your good humour, your music and song. At Mass and in the Sacraments many of you have been reading as ministers of the Word, involved in church choirs, others have accompanied young people as they were preparing for Confirmation in the “You Shall Be My Witnesses” programme; you have been role models for younger people who look to you for direction.’
All 545 award recipients, aged between 16-18 years, received their medal and certificate in recognition of their work in schools, parishes, and communities during the past year, including publishing a parish prayer book and teaching computers to the elderly, setting up a youth choir in their parish and caring for people with special needs on pilgrimages to Lourdes.
The MC for the occasion was 17 year old Gold Medal recipient, Darragh Kennedy, from Saint Colman’s College, Claremorris. It was Darragh’s happy duty to offer the congratulations of all to Archbishop Neary on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee as a bishop. Two award recipients, one from Rice College, Westport, and another from Saint Jarlath’s College, Tuam, presented Archbishop Neary with a specially commissioned half-and-half Galway and Mayo jersey, bearing the number 25, in recognition his years of episcopal service, and the hashtag #ourfavbishop.
Siobhán Bradley, Diocesan Coordinator of the John Paul II Awards, congratulated the award recipients saying, ‘You are a source of great hope and an inspiration to us all’.
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.