John Paul II Award Ceremonies 2018


Treacy’s West County Hotel, Ennis, Thursday, 8th of November.


Introduction and Welcome

A very warm welcome to all the recipients of the John Paul II awards, well over 100 studetns, to your parents/guardians and families, your teachers, principals, chaplains the award leaders, to Fr. Ger Jones, the JP II Director, to the team that assist Fr. Ger in the administration and organisation of the awards, to the various youth groups in the diocese and to the priests, religious and laity from your parish who have accompanied you.


New Youth Director

Special welcome to our new Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese, Ms. Joanne O’Brien.  One of the most exciting and hopeful ventures and investments in the diocese this year has been the appointment of person fully dedicated to promoting, co-ordinating and directing Youth Ministry and we wish Joanne every good wish and blessing in her important role.  She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her work in school, parish, diocese and on Clare FM with Beyond Belief.


Youth Ministry Groups

One of the things that delights me most about the diocese is the number of Youth Ministry groups who are enabling you to celebrate and enjoy the great treasure of your faith.


Growth in the Faith

This is a tremendous occasion.  It is  a celebration and recognition of your dignity, the gifts that you have, the way in which you use them and a demonstrates your generosity of spirit.  A few short years ago you received the Sacrament of Confirmation, confirming you in the faith.  Since then you have moved on to another school, matured in your faith, become involved in different interests, new relationships and friendships.  It is very exciting and enjoyable time for you as you give expression to your youthful energy, and enthusiasm and exuberance!


Specific Contributions

Over the past year and a half, I have heard, seen and experienced many of the very significant contributions which you yourselves have been making in so many ways throughout the length and breadth of the Diocese of Killaloe.  You have taken part in various Church and community activities, the great pride that you take in your local Church history, the projects that you have taken on, the many pilgrimages you have embarked upon at home and abroad, the choirs you have joined, the nursing homes that you visited, the joy and hope that you brought to residents through your good humour, your music and song.  At Mass and in the Sacraments many of you have been reading as ministers of the Word, others have accompanied young people as they were preparing for Confirmation and First Holy Communion programmes “You Shall Be My Witnesses” and “Do this in memory of Me”, “Faith Friends” for some.  You have been role models for younger people who look to you for direction.


Significant Achievement

They see you as young people who are full of the joys of life, as outgoing, ready to help others, as young people who are independent and can think for themselves, as people who recognise that faith can and does make a difference for our people.  As young people you are eager to strive for a better world.  You want to be partners in making a more just and compassionate society. Already you have recognised and responded to areas which needed attention.  You have done this because something within you prompted you and indicated that this is the right thing to do.  In your experience of working towards the John Paul II awards you have greater understanding of the fact that faith cannot be something that remains just in your head alone.  It must touch the heart and work through your hands and the gifts that you have.  Your faith in God causes you to go out and relate to others – in your family, neighbourhood, those who may not be able to enjoy the things you take for granted, like health, mobility, vision and comfortable surroundings.


The Genius of the John Paul II awards

You may not realise this, but yet older people pay huge attention to what you are doing; they are inspired by you and you provide them with great hope and courage.  The John Paul II Awards have afforded you an opportunity to give expression to your outgoing nature so that you can develop the generosity that lies within you; this you have been doing over the years. What is taking place here is related very much to the Sacrament of Confirmation that you have received.  You have now shown that you are a person who has taken responsibility and is capable of taking on even greater responsibility in the Church.  I rejoice in this.  I welcome you and I want you to know that the Church welcomes your ideas, your youthful energy, your faith and the hope that you have in your heart.  I want you to know that you are very valued members of a team here in the Diocese of Killaloe, in your own family, your school, your parish. In your sporting experience you know the way in which the team will always depend on every member.  That is why you are so important in the team that is the Diocese of Killaloe.  You have so much to offer to that team.  I congratulate you on which you have already achieved and I look forward very much to what you will achieve in the future.


The Learning Experience of the JP II awards

Already you have learned much from the John Paul II awards.  The importance of working with others, the fact that your faith prompts and propels you into action. You appreciate that the Church is not just a building but rather a group of people who are interested in the very same things as yourselves, who believe that Jesus Christ can make a huge difference in our world and improve the quality of life for all.


Congratulations and best wishes

I warmly congratulate you on your achievement, your parents and families, teachers, school, the priests and religious who accompany you.  As you are aware many people involved in the organisation of these Youth Awards have done trojan work in this whole area and has been a constant source of support to you.  I would also like to pay tribute to the Knights of St. Colmbanus and especially Mr. Brendan O’Neill and all the Knigths who have been very generous in initiating and supporting the John Paul II Awards that you receive this evening. Well done, keep up the fantastic, good work.


Mr. John Burke

Just to finish – I was delighted when I hear the guest speaker tonight is Mr. John Burke.  We are all aware of this outstanding achievments in Charity Work with Elevate, in Climbing Mount Everest and in the world of business.  I heard him speak twice and was deeply impressed by his message, once at the Community Games Awards for County Clare in this very location and last Spring when he was presented with the Clare Person of the Year award in Dublin.  On one of those occasions he spoke of the time when he was in St. Flannan’s Collge as a student like yourselves.  He spoke of the two big fears he had in life:

  • The fear of public speaking
  • The fear of heights

Here he is a number of decades later having scaled Mount Everest and speaks inspiringly all over the county and region.


I very much look forward to hearing John speak and link in with the great and heroic efforts you have done in the past years in coming to this night the presentation of Bronze, Silver or Gold or Papal Cross John Paul II awards!


Have a great evening.  Congrats and God bless to all involved.