By Ann Marie Foley - 24 November, 2016
The Pope John Paul II Award has been launched for the first time in Clonmel, where 46 transition year students from three secondary schools have enrolled.
The students are from schools across the County Tipperary town and were commissioned at Mass on Sunday (20 November).
“Having 46 students enrol for the first year of this award in Clonmel is a wonderful number,” said Fr Michael Toomey at the Mass.
“Taking part in this award will help these young people reflect on their relationship with God, where Christ is in the everyday bits and pieces of their lives.”
Some of the young people could not be present at the Mass as they were already committed to parish ministry on that day. Fr Toomey paid tribute to all the students enrolling, saying they have committed to working in their schools and parishes and have already done a huge amount of work in their community.
“The award will show them ways in which they can they make Him (God) present among their peers, friends and family. It is a great time for these young people to step out as true witnesses to their faith by helping their parish and community in so many ways,” he said.
This is the first year the award has been in Clonmel, but it has been running across the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore for four years. It has already seen over 500 students receive a Gold Medal (penultimate) Award in Cahir, Tramore, Lismore and parts of Waterford City. Many students also continue to help in their parishes and community by achieving the Papal Cross (ultimate) Award into 5th and 6th Year.
Over the coming weeks, many of the students will become more active in the life of their local parishes in and around the town, and all students hope to achieve the Gold Award by May.
Fr Toomey wished them all the very best and thanked the students for their enthusiasm and commitment so far. He also thanked the parents, schools and principals for their encouragement and support of the award.
The Pope John Paul II Award, founded in 2006 in the Derry Diocese, Northern Ireland, is active in 20 dioceses in Ireland. It is also running in the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in the UK. It is now actively promoted in the United States.
The award is coordinated from its head office in Derry, Northern Ireland. It was created by Fr Paul Farren in his role as director of the Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre.
The Pope John Paul II Award encourages young students to go beyond their comfort zone and challenges them to give of their time, talents, intellect, and social skills for others and for the glory of God, and to contribute to the local Church.
The award is for anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 who is willing to take part in parish and social activities for at least one hour per week over eight, 14 or 20 weeks.
There are three award levels – Gold, Silver and Bronze. Those who have completed the Gold Award have a further option of completing the Papal Cross Award.
Over 20,000 young people in 21 dioceses throughout Ireland and the UK have successfully completed the Pope John Paul II Award.