The Muiredach Cross Award and the Pope John Paul II Award are prestigious awards in the area of faith development and to receive one is undoubtedly a thing of great honour for those who were being celebrated at this event. The Muiredach Cross Award is particularly aimed at the younger members of society throughout the schools in the Diocese. It is hoped that participation in this award will provide a solid foundation upon which to build in later life when the young adult is eligible for the Pope John Paul II Award. There is apparently great interest in participation in these two awards and this was highlighted by the sheer enthusiasm shown in attendance at the event last Thursday night.

The positive thing about these awards was that it wasn’t a passive experience for those involved. The pupils and their schools were actively involved throughout the whole ceremony, providing music and displaying the talents that are being put to such good use within their local communities. This event wasn’t only about recognising the achievements of the participants, but also to give them another platform to showcase their skills.

The event continued with a guest speaker, Reverend Thomas McHugh who read the Gospel and gave a homily. Thomas is a deacon from the Archdiocese of Armagh and so the event was local and particularly close to the heart for him. He is due to be ordained on 1st July this year and spoke of his pride at seeing the youth in the Diocese shining their light on the community. As well as talking about the recipients of the awards, he reflected on his own faith journey, the challenges to this journey and his calling to the priesthood.

According to Armagh Diocesan Youth Director Dermot Kelly: “Thomas was a great guest speaker as he stressed the importance of youth participation in the Diocese and how it was great to see young people taking risks and accepting God’s calling to participate in their faith.”

The event continued with two young people who spoke of their own experiences of faith and the projects that they had completed in their communities. To hear the testimony of two young people about the value of the awards and what they mean to themselves individually was powerful to see and gave meaning to what the celebration. To see people empowered by faith is always something positive…to see it in such large numbers within one diocese, even more so.

Following the speakers came the award ceremony where the participants were presented with their rewards for the work that they undertook. Cardinal Seán Brady and Dean Colum Curry presented the awards and there was a sense of achievement and enthusiasm in the air.

The evening concluded with more music and singing by the various schools and groups present at the ceremony and was followed by a social gathering in St. Patrick’s Grammar School Armagh. The Diocesan Youth Commission would like to thank those involved in the ceremony: leaders, parents and all who took part in what was clearly a successful and gratifying occasion.

Please follow the below link to the photo gallery: