Young Mullingar and Meath parishioners arrive in Spain
Tracey, Jemma, Janine, Hannah and Michael join Fr Padraig at World Youth Day celebrations taking place this weekend.
42 young people from 15 parishes across the Diocese of Meath are in Madrid at the moment, attending World Youth Day with Pope Benedict.
This has been a week-long celebration attracting up to 1 million young people from countries around the world to celebrate and learn about their Catholic faith. The diocesan youth team has been preparing for the WYD celebrations for a number of months, led by Fiona McCabe, Hannah Evans and Patricia McKenna.
This morning (Friday) the group attended a 'sharing faith' session, hosted by the Archbishop of New York, Mgr Timothy Dolan. Hannah Evans from Mullingar explains "It was great to meet Archbishop Dolan and to hear what he had to say to us. Being from New York, he has lots of experience of young people and life. He was encouraging us, thanking us for the example of our faith, telling us some ways we can deepen our trust in God and our caring for others. For example, he mentioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta who talked about how to find joy in life - three letters: J (Jesus first), O (others next), Y (yourself at the end). Joy comes not from having stuff but from reaching out to God and others. That's how we can become better people, and a better community".
The highlight of the faith festival will be tomorrow night's Vigil and the closing Mass on Sunday morning with Pope Benedict.
Michael and Aidan, who went to secondary school at Colaiste Mhuire, Mullingar are having a super time in Madrid. "I didn't expect it to be this much fun" said Aidan. "A lot of us sometimes think of religion as boring or outdated but this experience has shown me another side of faith. Believing in God and being part of a community gives us a much greater sense of God in our lives and helps us to see each other in a better way."
World Youth Day was initiated by John Paul II in 1985 as a way to inspire young people and to encourage them in living the teachings of Jesus. It shows the diversity and universality of the Church as young people gather from many nations and countries around the globe to celebrate their faith together. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.