As I write I have just been talking to one of the young people who was in the Piazza this morning at Westminster. She, and hundreds (well, 2000) of others are all having a picnic in Hyde Park before they come into the Arena for the vigil. Fiona is representing her parish in Cockermouth, Cumbria, in the Diocese of Lancaster. She left home yesterday, and texted me from Preston around midnight. I asked her what her impressions were so far and she spoke of her joy and delight at seeing so many young Catholics gathered together from all over the country. Two-thousand is just a figure, but when you see them all gathered together in colour-coded sweatshirts, it is a very impressive sight.
I was so thrilled to hear Paschal Uche speak in front of everyone, as he welcomed the Pope. I cannot do justice to his wonderful words, his seemingly relaxed manner, his enthusiasm for what young people can do for the Church. It was the most uplifting moment of the day, so far, for me, notwithstanding the tremendously inspiring Mass that I had just watched.
Our young people are our greatest treasure. The Pope genuinely seemed reluctant to leave them. I want to get back oustide now, and talk to more of them. Before I do, here are a few of Paschal’s words:
Gathered here today are two and
a half thousand young people representing almost every parish in the country. Like many here I have been
actively involved in the Church serving the elderly in Lourdes and going on retreat. I know that others help in
Confirmation sessions, parish music groups, youth groups, and projects serving those who are disadvantaged.
We are a truly living Church that offers great opportunities for young people to encounter the love of Christ and
Pope John Paul II said that our faith is a “noble and authentic adventure” and we really want other young people
to experience this. It is our prayer that your visit inspires us to be “saints of the third millennium.”