FIFTY young people from across Limerick have received special John Paul II awards for their selfless work in their local parishes and communities.
The John Paul II medals were presented by Bishop Brendan Leahy at an event at Scoil Pól in Kilfinane and were the first since the Covid outbreak and the fourth to be awarded in Limerick.
It is a non-competitive, inclusive and voluntary rewards program for young people ages 16-18, focusing on youth activity in the church as well as in community and society.
Bishop Leahy said, “The work they have done in their local areas is enormous and brings such richness to their parishes, their local communities and to themselves.”
On the community side, recipients shopped for the elderly, got involved in tidy towns, did sports coaching with young children, and visited nursing homes.
On the parish side, beneficiaries engaged in folklore groups, Ministers of the Word, Ministers of the Eucharist, decoration of the church for Christmas, Easter, stewardship, sanitation and creative liturgies.
Nine young people received the Papal Cross award, which is the highest award and can only be obtained once the person has already obtained a gold medal.
Some 32 youngsters received gold medals while six silver medals were also awarded. Three bronze medals were also awarded at the event.
Young people from the parishes of Kilfinane, Kilmallock/Ballingaddy, Ballylanders, Bulgaden/Martinstown, Hospital, Glenbrohane, Bruree, Effin/Garrienderk, Ardpatrick, Glenroe/Ballyorgan, Fedamore, Dromin/Athlacca and Holy Rosary participated.
The laureates were Sr Patricia Coughlan and Margaret Convey, supported by Principal Mike O’Hara at Scoil Pól, Kilfinane and Victor Leyden at Ardscoil Rís.
Gold medal winner Ciara O’Riordan said her participation in the program was a “pivotal moment” in her life.
“Being involved in the JPII award has been a life-changing experience.
“Realizing that I can make a difference has instilled in me a sense of pride and belonging. It’s something I will always cherish,” she said.