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Nuncio urges students to become “ambassadors for Christ”

By Susan Gately - 06 October, 2013


Around 2,000 Transition Year students, dressed in uniforms of many colours and representing schools from all over Ireland attended a Knock Youth Gathering on Friday (4th October 2013).

“It was a little miracle to have so many there given that the event was really only launched at the beginning of September,” the Bishop of Limerick, Dr Brendan Leahy told CatholicIreland.net

Young people came from all over Ireland to a programme that included testimonies, Mass, the sacrament of Reconciliation, Benediction and the Stations of the Cross.

Archbishop Charles Brown was the main celebrant of the mass. In his homily, the papal nuncio spoke of the revolution of holiness. There is a history of holiness, he said, and a “geography of holiness” – and Knock was one of the places associated with this geography.

He urged the young people in the main basilica, who listened with great attention, to swim against the tide, and to become “ambassadors for Christ”.

“It was one of those moments where I felt maybe we were going to turn a corner in the Church,” commented Bishop Leahy of Limerick afterwards.  “I could see it becoming a regular event,” he added.


Two hundred and fifty TY students made the pilgrimage with him to the National Shrine. Early in the day, he met with them and told them the story of Chiara Luce Badano, a young Italian girl who died at the age of nineteen and was beatified a few years ago. 

“I told them I didn’t know what the day would be like, but what mattered was to love like Chiara Luce did, and in this way we can make a better world.”

Bishop Leahy said he was impressed at how the young people listened to him with “enormous attention”.

Gavin Pentony (15) was one of 50 TY students from St Patrick’s Classical School and the Mercy Girls’ School in Navan who travelled to the event. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a really good day,” he told CatholicIreland.net

The day began at 12 noon when the young people gathered in the Basilica at Knock. Ger, a young footballer, shared his experience of coming from non belief to faith through an event at Knock.

“He talked about peer pressure,” recounted Gavin Pentony. “He went with the flow, and did what everyone else did, but realised he was not happy doing that. He made a decision for faith. It meant he’d be different, but he said it was the best decision he’d ever made and through it he’d met his girlfriend.”

Then a Missionary of Charity (the order of Mother Teresa) from Poland spoke of the call to follow Jesus.

James, a leader with Youth 2000 who acted as MC for the event, spoke of the rosary as a prayer associated with the Irish through which people, over the centuries, had been greatly sustained in their faith. Copies  of the Youcat and rosaries were then distributed to all present.

After this session, came lunch, but those who wished were invited to stay behind for the sacrament of Reconciliation. Eight priests, Archbishop Brown and Bishop Leahy sat near the altar and a continuous stream of young people went to Confession to them. 

Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry and local bishop, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam were also present at the event.

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