On Tuesday 20th February the Down & Connor Youth Commission – Living Youth held the second of this year’s two Pope John Paul II Award Ceremonies, in St Killian’s College, Carnlough. There were 57 recipients of the Award from schools and parishes in the area. The theme of the celebration was again ‘Family.’ During the ceremony, the Director Pauline Dowd expressed her satisfaction that the numbers completing the Award had increased to the point that a second award ceremony was now required. During the Award Ceremony 3 young people Christina from St Killian’s College, David from Larne Parish and Olivia from Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle, outlined the volunteering they had done in their schools, communities and parishes to achieve the Award.
Christina undertook many activities to achieve the Award, she was in the parish folk group and the St Killian’s senior choir, she helped out with the Parish GIFT programme, the Christmas Toy Appeal and she was a Minister of the Word. She was a member of the Lourdes Youth team and thoroughly enjoyed the pilgrimage experience. Christina thanked Living Youth for the opportunity to be involved in the Award, which she described as ‘a wonderful experience and an immense privilege.’
David from Larne parish became a Minister of the Word and got involved in the parish ministry of welcome. He also took part in the Easter ceremonies, participated in the Stations of the Cross and led the novena prayers. David was also a Parish Gift leader and really enjoyed ‘helping to nurture the faith in next generation.’ He spent a week in orphanages in Romania and is grateful for this experience. David also represented his parish with Precious Life at the rally for life in Dublin where he ‘stood up for what is right.’
Olivia from Ramoan Parish took part in a number of activities in her parish including the offertory procession, the choir and children’s liturgy. This enabled Olivia to develop new relationships not only with the children but also with other members of her parish community. At Cross and Passion School Olivia was involved in sending Christmas Cards to the residents of the local care home and packing boxes for refugees. She explained how the Award had helped boost her confidence and given her an opportunity to take a welcome break from A Level study. She is pleased that the Award challenged her and helped her develop patience and kindness.
Pauline Dowd invited the gathering of young people, parents, Award Leaders and friends to join in the prayer of the World Meeting of Families to celebrate school families, parish families and families at home. Pauline congratulated the Award recipients and encouraged them to stay involved with youth and young adult ministry and to keep volunteering. She outlined the many programmes they could progress onto including, Nua, Altaration, Light the Blue Touch Paper, summer pilgrimage to Taize and volunteering a part of the Living Youth Team at the World Meeting of Families gathering in Dublin at the end of August.