Saturday, 2 October 2010

More on Bernie and the Holy Father

Bernie, (17) was chosen as one of our diocesan youth representatives to go to London to see the Holy Father. She was one of a (relatively) small crowd in the piazza outside Westminster Cathedral for the Pope’s Mass there and then marched to Hyde Park to be one of the huge crowd for the Papal Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

She came back absolutely buzzing: “the Holy Father’s a legend!” she proclaimed.

She was already secure in her Faith, and I think likely to remain so, but that pilgrimage has been a huge boost for her, so I was interested in her reflections.

“Well, of course, it was meeting the Holy Father himself!” He is so evidently a good and holy man, and his well-chosen words at Mass, after Mass and at Hyde Park made a huge impact. Essentially his message to young people was a call to personal sanctity.

“But also it was all the people: the crowd was immense – and really Catholic. We roared for the Holy Father, but you could have heard a pin drop during Adoration.” Clearly, there is something here about community. Practicing Catholics are in a small minority in most parts of the UK; certainly where we live. So it is easy to feel that we are insignificant and have little impact. Being part of a crowd of 80000 all cheering the Holy Father - and then all absolutely silent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – was incredibly exciting and affirming for her.

“And the kids on the coach were great, too. I made a couple of new friends. And outside the Cathedral was fantastic: all those kids desperate to hear what the Pope had to say.” So a particular aspect of this is about peer relationships. In the area where we live, we are one of very few Catholic families. Bernie doesn’t meet many people her own age who practice the Faith on a regular basis. But as part of the Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage, she travelled to London on a coach full of other young committed Catholics. Then at Westminster, their coach-load from our diocese met all the other coach-loads from every other diocese in England and Wales.

“And of course going with Fr Philip made it really special.” This aspect is perhaps more unique: the chaplain for the trip was a priest whom we have known for a long time. Many years ago, we spiritually adopted a seminarian: we promised to include him in our family prayers every day, and invited him to dinner occasionally etc. So for as long as they could remember, the kids have been praying for ‘Philip our seminarian.’ We went to his ordination, of course, and since then pray for Fr Philip. So it was a real treat for Bernie to have his spiritual direction for the trip.

But because of his spiritual leadership, the other distinguishing feature of the trip was that it was a pilgrimage, not just an excursion. The young people were praying, discussing their Faith and so on, not just chatting idly.


Ttony said...

How many Bernies are there around the country, and how do we make sure that this seed corn bears the right fruit in the future?

Thanks for all of this.

Ben Trovato said...


I don't know how many, but perhaps more than we think. The main thing is that there are some.

As for ensuring it bears the right fruit, I guess prayer is the principle means. And then support and encouragement for any Bernies we may know.

Glad you find it interesting!

Mac McLernon said...

There are lots - I am fortunate to meet many of them each year through the Faith Movement's conferences.

Sadly, all of them are inspired by their parents or their priests - almost never by their schools.

Something seriously wrong there: it should be all three!