Speaking as he presented 50 John Paul II Awards to young people from across Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy said that the young people stepped up during COVID to support others and this was particularly encouraging.

Bishop Leahy spoke of the valuable work done by the young people of the Diocese of Limerick. He said, “I was delighted to be able to present these John Paul II Awards to such inspirational young people.  The work they have been doing in their local areas is tremendous and brings such richness to their parishes, their local communities and to themselves.  For many there is a realisation that young people have a significant role to play in the Church, this gives me great hope for the future.”

The John Paul II medals were presented by Bishop Leahy at a recent event in Scoil Pól in Kilfinane, and were the first since the outbreak of COVID. The award programme, which is sponsored by the Knights of Saint Columbanus, is coordinated by the pastoral outreach team in the Limerick Diocesan Centre.

The Pope John Paul II Award, which is one of many commemorations of Pope Saint John Paul II and his commitment to and belief in young people, is a participation achievement award for young people typically aged between 16 and 18 but, due to postponement of activity over the past two years due to COVID, this year’s awards involved young people up to the age of 20. It is a non-competitive, inclusive, flexible and voluntary award programme and very much focused on youth activity in church as well as in community and society.

On the community side, the award recipients engaged in activities such as shopping for neighbours & elderly, tidy towns, sports coaching with younger kids, visiting nursing homes – music, volunteering at community events, flag bearers at St Patrick’s Day parade. Specifically on the ‘parish’ side, the recipients were engaged in folk groups, Ministers of the Word, Ministers of the Eucharist, decorating the Church for Christmas, Easter, stewarding and creative liturgies.

Nine young people received the Papal Cross Award, which is the highest-level Award and can only be achieved once the person has already achieved a Gold Medal.

Gold Medal recipient Ciara O’Riordan said that participating in the programme has been a pivotal moment in her life. “Being involved in the JPII Award has been a life changing experience for me. Realising that I can make a difference has awakened a sense of pride and belonging in me. This is something I will always treasure,” she said.

For further information on how to participate in the next programme, please contact: Rose O’Connor at 061 950 000 or email: jp2award@limerickdiocese.org

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