When the Award was launched in Derry in 2006 by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Lazarotto, it was never imagined that the Award would spread beyond the diocese. It has now been introduced into 22 dioceses in Ireland and 2 in Britain – the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. In the last ten years, over 20,000 young people have enrolled in the Award. It was acknowledged recently, that the Pope John Paul II Award is the largest youth movement in the Church in Ireland today.
The day in Knock provided young people from different dioceses with the opportunity to share their experiences of participating in the Pope John Paul II Award, discuss how it impacts on their faith and recognises the special place they have in the Church. They had time to pray together, to listen to an inspirational talk by Elma Walsh, mother of Donal Walsh (http://donalwalshlivelife.org) and to celebrate the Eucharist. Chief celebrant was Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, Patron of the Award. He was joined by a number of priests from participating dioceses.
Music was provided by Elation Ministries, choirs from participating dioceses with there was a special performance from singer/songwriter Niamh McGlinchey, a former recipient of the Award.
To continue the celebrations of the tenth anniversary, there will be a Pope John Paul II Award pilgrimage to Rome at the end of October 2017. More information of this pilgrimage can be found on the events section of the Award website – http://thepopejohnpauliiaward.com/blog/news/pope-john-paul-ii-award-pilgrimage-to-rome-2017/
View images from the day here. Images courtesy of Stephen Latimer Photography