Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry and Award Patron led the National Pope John Paul II Award Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine on Friday, 27 September 2019.
Over 600 young people traveled from across Ireland, to participate in the third National Pope John Paul II Award Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine. The theme of the pilgrimage was Life To The Full, Positive Friendships, Your Parish Needs You Now! The young people in attendance took part in prayers, readings, dance performance and activities all with the message of encouragement to become involved in your parish and grow your faith.
Young people from nine diocese across Ireland joined the pilgrimage to Knock Shrine
Speaking to over 600 young people who travelled to the National Shrine, Bishop McKeown acknowledged the courage and initiative they show by participating and completing the Pope John Paul II faith achievement award.
He recognises that doing the Award is not cool in many circles.
He told those in attendance: “Faith in Jesus is sometimes laughed at because it is not cool or is silly. Faith in Jesus is also criticised because it dares to ask awkward questions about who we are as human beings and how we can construct a just and more equal society.” Bishop McKeown went on to say “The Pope John Paul II Award will be merely a gong with no real value unless you take seriously how the Gospel can help us understand where our society is damaging itself”
“Participate in the Award if you want to become involved with others in a prophetic journey of prayer, faith community building and hope building. Doing the Award is without much sense if you are unhappy with the right questions rather than happy with the wrong answers.”
“The world is facing many crises, fighting and mudslinging, ecological damage and challenges to human ecology. It will not be changed by just preparing to take part in the rat race. It will be changed by those who are not afraid to be critical and to develop alternative ways of living.”
Listen to reactions to the Pilgrimage
Click the play button on the recordings below to hear the reactions and thoughts of the pilgrimage from some of the young people who took part.
The welcome Liturgical Dance on the theme ‘Life To The Full’
Dance performance by girls from St Cecilia’s College, Derry.
The pilgrimage in pictures
Young people from the diocese of Armagh, Derry, Dromore, Kilmore, Kildare & Leighlin, Limerick, Tuam and Waterford & Lismore took part in the pilgrimage along with school and parish leaders.
Photographs by JanaPix
Guest speaker Elma Walsh of #LiveLife Foundation
Guest speaker was Elma Walsh of the #LiveLife foundation. Elma spoke of her son Donal who sadly died of cancer at the age of sixteen. In the final months before his death Donal spoke on RTE of mental health, hospice conditions and faith for teenagers.
Elma told those in attendance how Donal knew how to live life and live it to the full. Donal used to tell his friends that “God has me in the palm of His hands and when I die I will be in His arms”. He also said “Use me when I’m gone”.
After Donal’s death the Walsh family started the #LifeLife foundation. To date the foundation has raised over €500,00 for mental health, hospice conditions and faith for teenagers.
Music during the pilgrimage was performed by Elation Ministries with choirs and dancers from St Mary’s and St Cecilia’s Colleges, Derry.
Bishop McKeown celebrated the Pilgrimage Mass with Bishop Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford & Lismore.