More than 500 young people from the Diocese of Derry received Pope John Paul II Awards yesterday 6 February in recognition of voluntary contributions to their parish communities over the past year.]
His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, presented the 564 young people with their awards at the 11th annual awards ceremony held last night in the Millennium Forum in Derry City.
Archbishop Okolo and Bishop McKeown were joined at the packed Millennium Forum by the 564 students and their families, as well as staff and teachers from secondary schools across the diocese.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Archbishop Okolo said to the young people, ‘If I am here today to participate in your achievement, it is to encourage you and it is to tell you that the Holy Father Pope Francis, who is a successor of John Paul II, supports you.’
While in Derry, Archbishop Okolo celebrated Mass in Saint Columba’s Long Tower Church, and afterwards joined Bishop McKeown in visiting the garden of reflection dedicated to the late Bishop Edward Daly. The Papal Nuncio paid tribute to Bishop Daly’s commitment to peace and reconciliation and service to the diocese and planted a shrub in his memory.
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.