I am currently participating in the John Paul II Awards. These awards recognise young people’s commitment to faith and community. I was told about the Kilmore Diocesan Youth Day and was encouraged to attend. My sister Caoimhe, who is a first year in my school Loreto College Cavan, also attended with me. I was a bit sceptical about the day, but decided to go as it would gain me some hours towards my John Paul II Award. The day itself couldn’t have been any more different to what I was expecting. I thought it would be long, boring and just praying for the afternoon. How wrong I was…
On September 30 over 70 young people from all over the Diocese of Kilmore congregated in the pastoral centre in Cavan to celebrate the first annual diocesan youth day. As we gathered in the pastoral centre we came to celebrate the same faith, and to join in friendships from all around the diocese.
A total of 12 parishes were represented on the day. Young people from as far away as Kilmainhamwood (a parish in Co. Meath) to Kinlough (a parish in Co. Sligo) attended. A Redemptorist team from Esker in Galway were invited to partake in the day with us.
The day consisted of a variety of workshops including crafts, meditation, videos about love and acceptance, a workshop with the band I am Worship and ending with a most enjoyable pizza party.
First of all we were split into groups according to the various ages. My sister was in a different group to me. I think that was a good idea because Transition Year students are much more mature than first years.
I really enjoyed working with the clay and reminiscing about my childhood, this led us to meditation and a reflection on our journey of faith. The band I Am Worship travelled from Derry to be with us. The group consisted of three girls and one boy. They were amazing and talked about how we can express our faith through music.
I am not a great singer myself, but that did not matter at all. The group was so enthusiastic, and full of energy and fun that it was infectious.
We also had great fun practicing the various songs for Mass later in the day. Everyone was clapping and getting into a joyous mood. It showed me that you can sing in a group without being a great singer. All my friends said that they would go to Mass every weekend if we got to listen to a band like them.
The youth day concluded with the celebration of Mass in the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Felim. Around seven o’clock all the young people walked in a procession from the pastoral centre to the cathedral. I got to leave 15 minutes before the main group with five of my friends as we were all serving or reading at Mass.
It was a lovely crisp autumnal evening and we laughed all the way into town. I felt very privileged to be serving such a big occasion and my younger sister was reading. It’s always a big deal to serve a Mass said by the bishop.
The front of the cathedral had seats reserved for all the young people who attended the youth day. Four students brought a big banner to the altar and secured it to the railings to make the congregation aware of what was going on.
Mass started with a procession of all the young people along with many priests from the diocese, servers and readers. Bishop Leo O’Reilly was the main celebrant. We felt blessed to have the bishop present as he loves young people and usually has great stories to tell us. He is always interested to hear what we are up to.
Fr Patrick Cahill, co-founder of the Holy Family Mission in Waterford, addressed the packed cathedral and had the congregation intrigued with his homily. He spoke in a very intriguing way. He told a story about an apple and a stone.
The stone was painted green and looked just like an apple. He went down to the front seats and asked a number of young people did he have one or two apples in his hand. Some said two, others said one. In actual fact he had one apple and one stone.
The painted stone was designed to trick you into thinking it was an apple. It showed us how passive our faith can be. The beautiful music was provided once again by I Am Worship, who really enriched the Mass liturgy.
The youth day celebrations gave young people a chance to grow together in their faith, sharing their hopes, prayers and aspirations in the company of others who are there to offer encouragement, strength and support. I had an amazing day and I would encourage young people to attend next year.
Niamh Brady is a Transition Year student in Loreto College Cavan.