Diocesan awards highlight Limerick youth activity

Bishop Brendan Leahy encouraged by youth involvement in the Church
Bishop Brendan Leahy

A renewed sense of civic, community and Christian spirit has flourished among young people in Kilfinane, thanks to an awards scheme being piloted by the Diocese of Limerick.

The John Paul II awards are given out to young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who commit to engaging in a mix of community and church-based activity, with 17 of them set to receive their awards at an event held in Scoil Pól, Kilfinane on Friday.

The programme was run by Scoil Pól in conjunction with Limerick Diocese and was driven and initiated by Sr. Patricia Coughlan in Kilfinane. The Knights of St Columbanus are sponsoring the launch of the initiative.

It is the latest implementation of a recommendation from the Limerick Diocesan Synod held last year to reinvigorate church and community across Limerick and face it positively to the future.

The awards are divided into four categories – bronze, silver, gold and the Papal Cross – and based on the level of activity that the students, who were mostly drawn from transition year, could commit to.

Bronze awards went to students who committed to two hours of activity in social and church-based activity for eight weeks; silver required two hours per week for 14 weeks and gold required the same level of weekly activity for 20 weeks.

The Papal Cross award is given to students who have completed an additional 26 weeks of activity having already received a gold award, with four students set to receive that on Friday night having already secured their gold in a pilot programme ran in the neighbouring Killaloe diocese.

Bishop Brendan Leahy said: “When we celebrated the Synod in 2016, we agreed it would be good to introduce these awards because they provide a structure for young people to explore practical ways in which they can play an active role in their parish and also become more aware of their community and the challenges that people face in their locality.”

Rose O’Connor, Pastoral Implementation Manager and one of the organisers of the awards programme said it renewed hope for young people and their potential to do great things.

“A huge amount of great work has been done by them across the community in Kilfinane, particularly in the likes of Tidy Towns activity and it’s no wonder that Kilfinane had such a big improvement in its standing in the competition this year.

“There has also been an upsurge in involvement in Church activity, in the choir, in reading at Mass, in more young people becoming Eucharistic Ministers. Young people have also helped older people and one of the pleasing outcomes has been to hear older people say how impressed they are with the younger generation,” she explained.

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