Days Of Grace
By Cian Loakman and Stephen Mulpeter
The Pope John Paul II Award is an Award which is given to students who have participated in Parish and Social Involvement within their Parish. This year there will be 14 students who attend Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge Co. Kildare receiving this Award. These students come from Newbridge Parish, Allen and Milltown Parish and the Curragh Parish. This Award is given to encourage students to develop their sense of faith and to get involved more in their local area.
Our Pope John Paul II leader in school is Ms Clare Molloy. After finishing my Gold Award for the JPII, some of us really wanted to continue on our involvement in the activities within the community and the parish. We were looking for something special to do and were asked if we would get involved in Sacramental preparation in the Parish Centre. We were honoured to be asked but we were also looking forward to the challenge ahead. We prepared the students who had not baptised, we taught them all about the church. We set a date to have them baptised.
We enjoyed making resources for the workshops and we felt that they worked very well in the class. We also were able to get to know the group better and the personalities that were there. It was such a tremendous feeling to share our faith with the youth of the parish. The parents were very thankful for everything that we had done with the students over the 12 week programme. It was important to be there every week to show the continuity that was required for your faith and faith development.
Some of us travelled to Kenya as part of the Cara Projects Programme. We had heard about this programme from other students and the lure of adventure made us want to travel to this far away place. We were interested in Kenya as we have a Patrician Brothers School over there also. We had to fundraise a lot to get there but when we arrived, it was a very different space. A totally different world where poverty was very common. Our task to was to work building fish ponds so that the orphanage could be financially sustainable. They bought baby fish for 5 shillings and sold them when fully grown for 500 shillings. It was important that they had the correct ponds for them to grow in. We were there for two week and it was an eye opening experience, it was located in one of the biggest slums in the world. We think it is very important to give our time as volunteers as we felt very privileged and grateful for the things that we have. By volunteering we were giving back to others who are less privileged. Our voluntary work is something that we will always remember and has helped to shape us as people.
Jumping Jellybeans is a fitness programme for young people who have a physical and mental disability run by Roisin Malone the JP11 award leader in Allen/Milltown. Some of us asked us to participate in this programme. We attended once a week and were assigned a young person to work with. We are there to support and encourage these young people so they can become physically independent. We are now more educated about the disabilities that young people are born with and encounter and we feel that being involved in this programme has enriched us.
It was a once in a lifetime experience to travel to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. We feel that our faith has strengthened from this experience and we were present with Pope Francis at a number of occasions throughout World Youth Day Week. The theme of World Youth Day was “Blessed are the merciful” which was associated with the image of the Divine Mercy. Ms Molloy brought us to the Convent of Sister Faustina, where the image of the Divine Mercy is kept. There were crowds of people at the convent as Sister Faustina was the Patron Saint of World Youth Day, it was very special and an honour to see where she lived and her tomb. We then went to the Pope John Paul II Centre which was factory where John Paul worked during World War II. The factory is now the JPII Centre.
We would like to say that the Pope John Paul II Award has been such a positive and a life changing experience. We have travelled to Medjugorje and climbed Croagh Patrick and we got to get involved in so many things within the parish and within the school community. We have got to know so many people and so many friends who we will treasure and take with us for life. I have matured and I have also developed my communication skills. I have definitely come out of my shell and I will always know that Pope John Paul II will be my friend forever.