BY Martin Dunlop | September 10 2010 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pupils cross the border to meet Pope

Scottish schoolchildren to join in a celebration of Catholic education at Twickenham

More than 100 young people from Scotland will join their counterparts from across the UK in a celebration of Catholic education with Pope Benedict XVI at Twickenham, London, on the second day of the Holy Father’s state visit to the UK next week.

Every Catholic secondary school in Scotland and each of the country’s eight dioceses will be represented at next Friday’s celebration, and three of the young people from Scotland will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of greeting the Holy Father.

The Big Assembly

The Pope’s first engagement on English soil will be a gathering of 3500 schoolchildren and students being billed as The Big Assembly, at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham on Friday September 17.

The event will be a celebration of Catholic education in the UK and the outstanding work that takes place in Catholic schools, colleges and higher education institutions across the country, with the Pope speaking to the young people about their special role within the Church.

Two children from each of the Catholic secondary schools in Scotland and two youngsters from Aberdeen and Argyll and the Isles dioceses will be part of the 140 pilgrims travelling to London from Scotland.

“It is really special that the young people have this opportunity,” Barbara Campbell, secondary RE advisor for Glasgow Archdiocese and Motherwell Diocese, said.

Ms Campbell said that the young people travelling to Twickenham, which will include pupils from special educational needs schools, had been chosen for their hard work and commitment to their Faith.

Trio to meet the Pope

As part of the celebrations three young people, Daniel Canning from Motherwell Diocese, Marie Clare Davidson from Paisley Diocese and John James Gailbraith from Barra, will have the unique opportunity of greeting the Holy Father on his arrival at Twickenham.

“I have been visiting some of the schools involved and the young people are so excited about going, they know it is a real privilege for them to be there,” Ms Campbell added. “This is not a one off event and we want to build on the young people’s attendance at the Big Assembly. We want a legacy to be created from the Papal visit.

“The young people are going as ambassadors of their schools, dioceses and their communities and they will be praying a nine-day novena together in preparation for the celebration.”

Other dioceses

Rachael Glynn and Kevin Rennie of St Joseph’s College in Dumfries will also be part of a youth delegation from Scotland at The Big Assembly.

“It is a real honour and a real privilege,” Kevin said. “It will be amazing to see the Pope and hear what he has to say about Catholic education.”

Rachael said it was an ‘honour to be chosen’ and ‘it is something I’ll never forget.’

The 17-year-olds with be accompanied by Mrs Marese Harte-Carroll, principal religious education teacher at their school.

Lasting impression

Mgr Kenneth McCaffrey, vice president of the Catholic Education Commission, will accompany the young people to Twickenham and is enthusiastic about the event and the lasting impression the audience with the Holy Father will have on the young people.

“I am very much looking forward to the celebrations as it will be a great opportunity for our young people,” he said. “Hopefully the Holy Father will praise the work of Catholic education.

“The Scottish pilgrims will also be wearing their special St Ninian’s tartan scarves.”

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