BY No Author | October 1 2010 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


An experience of a lifetime for pupils

Megan Clark and Amy MacNeil, two S5 pupils from John Ogilvie High School, Hamilton, share their experiences from the celebration of Mass with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park

In John Ogilvie High School the Pope’s visit was discussed regularly so that we were aware of its importance individually and to the wider Catholic community.

At these meetings it was stressed to  us to expect a vast amount of people at Bellahouston Park to take part in Mass. Because of the mixed media coverage building up to the Papal visit we felt a great need to support our Faith at this time. The build-up was added to by the distribution of our pilgrim packs, which only furthered our excitement for the day.

The journey to Bellahouston Park was slow moving because of the amount of traffic, giving us a preview of how many people were going to be present.


It was also at this point that we recognised the extraordinary weather and how the weeks of rain had been interrupted by a bright and warm day. We noticed that this seemed to reflect the enlightened moods and obvious Faith and prayer of the people thrilled to be a part of the occasion in  the midst of what had been a mixed media reaction over the weeks leading up to the event.

As we arrived at the park we felt the community atmosphere of many different schools, institutions and cultures coming together represented by choirs, speakers and presentations. We had not expected the festival-like atmosphere with people bringing picnics and chairs to spend the day together to share in their Faith.

The hour before the Pope’s arrival seemed very long as we anxiously waited for any sign of his appearance. Eventually, we could tell his entrance was near as hundreds of priests in white vestments began to file on to the altar. As the Pope came into sight the thousands of people not already standing at the barriers began to rush frantically towards him. Ripples of never-ending cheers and applause echoed around the park.

The atmosphere in the park changed from a festival-like mood and became very respectful and spiritually centred in reverence of His Holinesses’ presence and of the sacredness of the Holy Mass that was about to be celebrated. The Mass was accessible and exceptional as it was celebrated in English and Latin, which was especially beneficial to our generation as we had never experienced Mass with a dominant use of Latin.

The Pope’s homily was hopeful and significant from our perspective because it highlighted the importance of youth as the future of the Catholic community. We were surprised at how quickly Communion was distributed and the irony of the yellow umbrellas. Their sole purpose had been to keep off the rain but instead they were used to guide us to share Holy Communion with the congregation, as there was no rain.

Overall, the Papal visit deepened and strengthened our Faith and made us realise the importance of community and that we must support the Catholic Faith.

The media coverage not only highlighted the significance of the event but also made the experience more exciting, as if we had an important part to play in our Faith. One might wonder if our generation will be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see another Papal visit.

Immense importance

Eddie Morrison, John Ogilvie headteacher, believes the Papal visit was of ‘immense importance for our Faith community.’

“The words of the Holy Father have given us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of our Faith and on our responsibilities as Christians to play a full and active part in helping our society to meet the challenges of our times,” Mr Morrison said. “The experience at Bellahouston Park was exciting and uplifting for all of the 200 John Ogilvie pupils and staff who were there. A once in a lifetime opportunity to join with a multitude celebrating the presence of the Holy Father.

“‘Unforgettable’ and ‘life-changing’ are only two of the comments I have heard from my students.”

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